September 14, 1994
Willis Carto, founder and head of the right-wing Washington, DC-based Liberty Lobby organization, is fighting a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by the parent corporation of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a “revisionist” history educational and publishing enterprise with which he was once closely affiliated.
In a civil suit (No. N64584) filed July 22, the IHR’s parent corporation — Legion for the Survival of Freedom, Inc. — charges that Carto, together with crony Henry J. Fischer and Carto’s wife, Elisabeth, have been improperly withholding as much as seven million dollars from the corporation.
At dispute are millions of dollars from the estate of Jean Farrel, a grand-niece of inventor Thomas Edison who died in August 1985. At a meeting in March 1984, Farrel told IHR Director Thomas Marcellus that she intended to leave her estate to further the work of the IHR. Acting as agent for the Legion, Carto in Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 17, 1990, signed legal papers, including a “Distribution Agreement,” whereby more than seven million dollars of the Farrel estate (45 percent of the total) was to go to the Legion.
Representing the plaintiff in the current lawsuit are two Century City attorneys, Jacques Beugelmans and Thomas Musselman. Defendant Carto is being represented by Newport Beach attorney Randall Waier.
Willis A. Carto, 68, founded and controls Liberty Lobby, a self-described “populist” organization that publishes The Spotlight, a nationally-circulated weekly tabloid paper.
Founded in 1978 with Carto’s help, the Institute for Historical Review is a non-partisan, not-for-profit educational and publishing enterprise dedicated to “historical revisionism.” It is based in Orange County, southern California.
Among those who have publicly supported the IHR have been Pulitzer Prize laureate American historian John Toland and acclaimed, best-selling British historian David Irving.
The IHR is perhaps best known for publishing controversial books and articles questioning aspects of the Holocaust extermination story. A recent Los Angeles Times article described the Institute as “a right-wing think tank that critics call the 'spine of the international Holocaust denial movement'” (Los Angeles Times, Orange County ed., May 8.)
Carto’s relationship as “agent” for the IHR/Legion was terminated by its Board of Directors in September 1993. Since then, he has refused to turn over corporate records to the lawful corporate officers and directors.
Carto sought unsuccessfully to gain control of the LSF/IHR in a lawsuit decided in December by Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Polis. Carto “was exercising substantial control over the Legion without any apparent legal authority,” Polis stated in his December 31 ruling, which he reaffirmed in his April 13 “Statement of Decision” and “Judgment After Trial by Court.”
Henry Fischer, a Carto associate and resident of north San Diego County, in August 1993 transferred $100,000 from a Legion bank account in Switzerland to Liberty Lobby. Carto acknowledged under oath on May 24 that he authorized or initiated that transfer by Fischer, claiming that he had “total discretion” to dispose of money from the Farrel estate as he alone saw fit.
Carto has repeatedly rejected offers by the LSF/IHR peacefully to settle the dispute. Instead, since November 1993 he has been waging a furious propaganda campaign against the IHR. In The Spotlight and in several mailings, he has repeatedly charged that the Institute for Historical Review has been “taken over” and is now “controlled” by the Anti-Defamation League. At the same time, and in spite of Judge Polis' ruling, Carto also continues to insist that he represents and controls the “real” IHR.