Willis Carto archive

Including information about his associates

The Carto-IHR Dispute: A Response to Elisabeth Carto

By Mark Weber (weber@ihr.org) — July 29, 2002

Dear Fredrick,

Thank you for initiating a discussion about the “crisis” of revisionism. Soon I will send you an essay explaining why I am optimistic about the future of revisionism. But first I want to respond here to the messages by Elisabeth Carto that you've recently circulated.

You have repeatedly told me that you prefer to remain publicly neutral about the Carto-IHR dispute. I was therefore surprised to see that you circulated to your list Elizabeth Carto’s messages of July 22, and then of July 25-26 and July 29, in which she alleged that Greg Raven and I have been carrying out a plan to destroy the Institute for Historical Review and revisionism. This allegation is not new, of course. Since late 1993, when the IHR severed its relationship with Elisabeth and her husband Willis, they have proclaiming that Greg and I, together with others, have been acting as agents of the Zionist ADL, the Israeli Mossad, and the CIA to destroy the IHR and revisionism. No serious person, not even those who are sympathetic to the Cartos, publicly endorses this view. I doubt if the Cartos themselves really believe these claims.

The bitter, protracted and costly Carto-IHR dispute has unquestionably harmed the revisionist cause. Currently the IHR has six law firms — five in the US and one in Europe — representing us in this seemingly endless battle. The money we have been obliged to pay to lawyers for nearly ten years in this terrible dispute has been a heavy burden.

For many people, the dispute between the Cartos, including The Spotlight and Liberty Lobby, on the one hand, and the Institute for Historical Review, on the other, has been confusing and disheartening. Quite a few revisionists have, quite understandably, expressed the hope that the two sides might negotiate an agreement to end the fighting. You expressed this view in your address at the recent IHR Conference.

But what many well-intentioned people do not realize is that the two sides have, in fact, concluded two such agreements — and that both were broken by the Cartos and Liberty Lobby.

The first was signed by all the involved parties in July-August 1999. After the California Superior Court ruled that Carto and Liberty Lobby had broken this agreement, the case went to a mediator who, on April 5, 2001, helped the two sides to work out another formal agreement. Within weeks of signing, Carto and Liberty Lobby broke this second agreement, failing even to comply even with its non-financial provisions. This brought the matter back into courts in both California and Washington, DC, and put both Liberty Lobby and The Spotlight out of business. Eventually the Cartos even lost their southern California home (which, typically, they held through a dummy corporation based in Panama).

Much of the Carto-IHR dispute involves millions of dollars from the estate of Jean Farrel, an American-born woman who died in Switzerland in 1984. The Cartos contend that Jean Farrel intended her money to go to Willis Carto, to disperse as he saw fit. We contend that she intended this money to go to the IHR, and that the Cartos, together with their friend Henry Fischer (who has fled the United States), and others, illegally took this money for their own uses.

Until late 1993, Willis Carto himself repeatedly confirmed, both in writing and in statements made under oath, that the Farrel money was meant for the IHR. Even private letters from Jean Farrel to Willis Carto, which he submitted in evidence in the 1996 trial before Judge Maino, confirmed that she intended her money to go to the IHR. In her letter to Carto of August 31, 1983, for example, Farrel explained what she meant by turning over money to him: “Of course, I mean the IHR,” she wrote.

In that crucial 1996 trial in California Superior Court (north San Diego County), Judge Runston Maino considered voluminous evidence, including detailed testimony by the Cartos, and hundreds of pages of documents. Regarding that case, Elisabeth Carto writes: “Even Judge Maino who did the bidding of the destroyers ruled that there was no crime committed. Just a misunderstanding as to who could dispense the money!”

This is a grotesque misrepresentation of the facts. At the conclusion of the exhaustive trial, Judge Maino found that $7.5 million from the Farrel estate belonged to plaintiff LSF (parent corporation of the IHR), and that “all defendants,” that is, including Willis and Elisabeth Carto, “have substantially interfered with the plaintiff’s [IHR/LSF's] property rights as to this $7.5 million.” The defendants, Maino also declared, “were grossly reckless and grossly negligent in their handling of the Farrel estate,” and their “interference was intentional and without any justification.”

Judge Maino ordered the Cartos and the other defendants to pay LSF/IHR $6.43 million, plus ten percent annual interest from January 1991, and co-defendant Liberty Lobby to pay LSF/IHR $2.65 million, plus ten percent annual interest from January 1993. (Maino had allowed a deduction of $1.07 million in “reasonable, necessary and provable” costs incurred by defendants in securing Farrel estate assets.)

In his detailed November 1996 evaluation of the evidence presented in the trial, the Judge was scathing in his assessment of Willis Carto. “I did not find him to be a witness who can be relied upon,” Maino wrote. “His demeanor when he testified was evasive and argumentative.”

Judge Maino continued: “I found that much of his [Carto’s] testimony made no sense; much of his testimony in court was different from his previous testimony; much of his testimony was contradicted by other witnesses or by documents. By the end of the trial I was of the opinion that Mr. Carto lacked candor, lacked memory, and lacked the ability to be forthright about what he did honestly remember.”

"Mr. Carto intentionally lied to the Furrs and other actual and purported members of the Board of Directors of the Legion [LSF/IHR] so nobody would know of his illegal acts,” the Judge also declared. As evidence presented in the case made clear, these “illegal acts” include Carto’s forgery of fraudulent corporate documents, and his handling of corporate funds as if they were his personal property.

Carto’s “entire attitude” during the trial, the Judge wrote, was “one of arrogance, deceit, evasiveness, and convenient memory.”

Readers of the Carto-controlled Spotlight weekly were predictably told that Judge Maino was biased and unfair. They were not told that “populist” Carto himself had decided to dispense with a jury in this crucial trial, and instead to let Judge Maino alone decide his fate.

Elisabeth Carto writes that her husband “put” Harvey Taylor on the board of directors of LSF, the IHR parent corporation. First, Willis Carto had no authority to put Taylor, or anyone, on the LSF board. He was neither an officer nor a director. (He called himself an “agent” of the LSF board of directors.) Several courts have confirmed Carto’s lack of legal authority. For example, California Judge Polis declared in his tentative ruling of December 31, 1993 (which was subsequently re-affirmed in April 1994, and upheld on appeal in August 1996), that Willis Carto “was exercising substantial control over the Legion [LSF corporation] without any apparent legal authority.”

Second, during the “Carto era,” Willis Carto took care to make sure that Harvey Taylor, along with Jack Riner, Noel Merrihew and I, was a member of the LSF (IHR) board in name only. Neither Taylor, Riner, Merrihew nor I was ever notified by Carto, or anyone, of any LSF board meeting. In fact, the Cartos used Taylor, Riner, Merrihew, me and others to divert IHR/LSF funds for their own uses.

Willis Carto routinely wrote up fraudulent “minutes” of LSF board meetings that never took place, and had the pliant Lavonne Furr sign them. One of the most important of these documents are the phony “minutes,” written up by Carto, of an board meeting that supposedly took place on March 5, 1991. At this fictitious meeting, Harvey Taylor supposedly voted to turn over millions of dollars from the IHR (LSF) — that is, the Jean Farrel money — to “a suitable independent organization” controlled by Carto. Harvey Taylor did not participate in any such meeting. Carto’s claim that he did is not only a lie, it was a fraud that he used to steal millions of dollars meant for the IHR.

The Cartos point out that they have not been convicted of any crime. Strictly speaking, this is true, but it is also misleading. The courts have repeatedly found that the Cartos' actions have been illegal. In one case, Judge John J. Hargrove of US Bankruptcy Court in southern California specifically declared in his judgment of January 27, 2000: “The Court hereby further determines that Defendants Carto are liable to Plaintiff LSF [IHR] for embezzlement.”

The Cartos have repeatedly insisted that the courts are biased against them. Willis Carto has even claimed that we have prevailed in the courts only because the judges are part of a far-flung conspiracy directed against them that has involved me, Greg Raven, and the CIA. But it is difficult to accept that the Cartos really believe that, given that the Cartos themselves have, for years, filed one lawsuit after another against IHR/LSF, and against me and others personally, in these same supposedly “biased” courts.

It is a telling fact that we are by no means the only targets of the Cartos' rage. Over the years they have also viciously attacked Ernst Zündel, Bradley Smith, Don Wassal, William Pierce, Ed Fields, and many others. It is also worth noting that the Cartos' relationship with every IHR director and every IHR Journal editor has ended in acrimony.

To sum up: The basic facts of the Carto-IHR dispute are clear. Willis and Elizabeth Carto, together with others, secretly diverted millions of dollars that belonged to the IHR and its parent corporation and used this money for their own purposes. The Cartos broke the two signed agreements they concluded with us to resolve this dispute. Through The Spotlight and its successor American Free Press, the Cartos have for years engaged in a smear campaign against the IHR and individuals associated with it. Their claims that we are CIA, ADL and/or Mossad agents are absurd lies.

For those who care to look further into all this, a library of information, including dozens of documents and voluminous court testimony, can be found on the “Willis A. Carto Information Site.”

The misfortunes suffered by the Cartos in recent years, including the demise of Liberty Lobby and The Spotlight, and the loss of their residence, are due entirely to their own deceit, inept management, arrogance, and refusal to live up to their solemn commitments. By the same token, it is difficult to see what more the IHR could have done to resolve this regrettable dispute.

Cordially,

Mark