Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Down and dirty on Wayne Root

No messing around here: This is an attack piece. There's no other way to describe it, and I'm not going to waste time trying to convince you that it's something else. That said, the factual claims in this attack piece are properly sourced and will withstand your scrutiny. Don't believe me. Check for yourself.

If the Libertarian Party was treated as a "major party" in the mainstream media, the material below would be news. Real reporters would spend their time and their employers' money digging for the gory details. Since the LP isn't considered a "major party" by the MSM, opposition research doesn't have much chance of being effectively leaked through, say, the New York Times. If the dirty laundry is going to get aired, we have to hang it out on the line ourselves.

As a candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination, Wayne Allyn Root has promoted himself as a "business mogul and entrepreneur extraordinaire." And let's face it, in the LP, that kind of image sells. Lately, Root has shifted toward a "small business" image, and that plays well with Libertarians, too.

But how accurate are either of these images? And are they based on the kind of record that the LP wants in a presidential candidate? The answer to both questions is a resounding "no."

Let's tackle the "mogul" angle first.

At this time, Root's company (W Technologies, Inc., formerly Winning Edge Technologies, Inc., formerly GWIN, Inc.) is apparently a dead stick. Here are some highlights from the company's Business Week profile:

- The company sold its operating assets in September of 2007.

- In November of 2007, the company's auditor reported to the SEC "an unqualified opinion expressing doubt that the company can continue as a going concern."

- Late last month the company defaulted on a payment due of more than $90,000 against promissory notes of more than $450,000. The profile is pessimistic: "If the Company cannot reach a restructuring of the notes, which have an outstanding balance of approximately $456,522, the Company may have to seek bankruptcy protection."

- The company's market cap of about $390k is less than the outstanding debt it's trying to restructure (is there other debt? Well, the company's best performance in the last four years has been a $1.2 million net loss, so ...). Its 52-week high stock price -- which it hit last May -- was 3 cents per share, and as of Valentine's day it stood at eight one hundredths of one cent per share.

I'd say we're waaaaaaay out of "mogul" territory here. The business is neither huge -- its market cap, if liquidated, wouldn't buy a nice house in the Bay Area -- nor successful. It's a bust.

But, it's a small bust (if we concentrate only on the profits and ignore the debt and losses), so maybe we should take Root's new "small businessman" rhetoric to heart. Ah, small business! Main Street USA! Mom and Pop and good old-fashioned American values like honesty, thrift and hard work.

Except, well, it's not really much like that. The Las Vegas Better Business Bureau lists 14 complaints versus Root's company over a period of 36 months, with only five of those complaints resolved to the BBB's satisfaction and none of them resolved to the customer's satisfaction. Among the complaints are one for "deceptive sales practices," two for "unauthorized credit card charges," and one for "unauthorized bank debits."

Scratch the cheap gold paint Root has dipped himself in, and what you find beneath doesn't look much like a "business mogul" or an "entrepreneur" or a "small businessman." It looks a lot more like a con artist -- specifically the kind known in the sports betting world as a "scamdicapper."

Unfortunately a considerable percentage of Libertarians seem to be falling for Root's latest, greatest scam: His presidential campaign. That's understandable -- we're eager to be seen as successful, and to be represented by candidates with "success" in their image profiles. But it's important to scrutinize such image profiles. The truth about Root is important -- and it's more, not less, important since he's used his alleged business success as a selling point for his candidacy.

None of the other candidates for the LP's presidential nomination make the kind of self-promotional claims that Wayne Root makes. On the other hand, the claims they do make stand up to scrutiny.

George Phillies has plausibly claimed modest wealth based on wise savings and investment decisions over the course of a successful academic career, and he's invested thousands of dollars of that honestly earned wealth in his campaign.

Steve Kubby plausibly describes his past business successes -- and in the last two years he has come out of an unjustified imprisonment with $110 to his name, worked his way through a protracted divorce proceeding, paid off his debts, paid off all fines and costs related to his probation and earned early termination of that probation, secured a residence and built back his life while continuing to fight successfully for freedom.

Those accomplishments may not be "mogul" stuff, but they're real and true accomplishments, and the candidates who claim them also have long records of dedicated activism in the Libertarian Party. They're the real thing.

It's time to wise up, folks. We can't fool the American people with a candidate like Wayne Allyn Root -- and we shouldn't fool ourselves with him either.

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