Sure, you've been told that Carto will steal you blind while presenting himself as a friend (or at least, a fellow-traveler), and that you'd be well advised to count your fingers anytime you shake hands with him, but if you've never done business with him, you couldn't possibly be prepared for the breathtakingly duplicity in Carto’s dealings. Here is just one documented instance (see also our undocumented instance):
Carto, in an attempt to hide assets from LSF after losing a multi-million dollar suit, sells (that’s right, “sells,” not “rents” or “leases") the mailing list for Liberty Lobby’s tabloid The Spotlight to advertising wizard Todd Blodgett, who at that time was a trusted part of the Liberty Lobby team. This deal not only gained Carto/Liberty Lobby a great deal of cash, but it also left them with an “out:” If Liberty Lobby were to be seized as part of the collections process, Carto would have a “legal” copy of The Spotlight mailing list available to him for any future venture. That is, he could jettison Liberty Lobby like an old garment and be back in business within hours, bilking yet more money from his sucker (I mean, “mailing") list.
Carto outlines the deal in an October 28, 1996, letter to Blodgett, which reads:
This will confirm our agreement to sell to your our SPOTLIGHT active names, expires and Board of Policy expires and all other direct mail lists presently owned.
The price we have agreed on is $85,000. Payments of $5,000 monthly are to commence January 1, 1997 and will end on May 1, 1998. DX and promotional consulting work may be substituted for cash payments at our discretion.
Willis A. Carto
It is interesting to note that Carto claimed under penalty of perjury in Liberty Lobby’s bankruptcy filings that these names, which he is selling to Blodgett for $85,000, are actually worth in excess of $7 million!
As often happens when Carto works with people who are themselves capable (as opposed to the spiritless drudges with which he normally surrounds himself), Carto and Blodgett had a falling out, although this one was minor compared with what was to come. Carto immediately began demanding that Blodgett disclaim any ownership of The Spotlight mailing list. Note that Carto is so keen on preventing Blodgett from exercising his rights under the agreement of October 1996, that he is willing to acknowledge in writing on May 4, 1998, that this action was taken to defraud a creditor (the Legion):
This is the third — and FINAL — time I will ask you for a written statement purporting that our deal is merely a means by which you are assisting Liberty Lobby to avoid being further victimized by the Calif. vultures, as we have discussed.
I have credited you with fulfilling your 1997 obligations as regards this matter, and all that’s left to do now is for you to take care of the payments which are due for 1998, which you can do — as previously agreed — when we meet in Phoenix later this month.
Willis A. Carto
In other words, Carto is telling Blodgett that even though Carto/Liberty Lobby have received all necessary payments for 1997, the list really isn't Blodgett’s to use: The whole deal is a sham. Oddly, there is no mention of returning money to Blodgett, and in fact Carto is arranging to receive the final payoff.
When Blodgett agreed to this course of action, he was accepted by Carto back into the Liberty Lobby fold — temporarily.
The “payments for 1998” which Blodgett was instructed to give to Carto “when we [Carto and Blodgett] meet in Phoenix later this month” took place as scheduled on Memorial Day weekend, when Blodgett delivered $25,000 in cash to Carto in a hotel room, AFTER Liberty Lobby had filed for bankruptcy protection. Blodgett later testified in open court:
Q [Atty Clark]. Do you or TAB Agency [Blodgett’s advertising firm] have any agreements with Liberty Lobby?
A [Blodgett]. Yeah. I mean, I had deals with them, I made deals with Willis, I made deals with — all kinds of deals.
Q. I'm going to show you what’s been marked as Exhibit 2, it’s the second one down in the pile. Can you identify this for me, please?
A. (Reviewing document.) This is a deal that Willis and I put together for me, not TAB Agency, but me to purchase copies — not the originals, but copies of the lists. [This is the October 1996 agreement, shown above.]
Q. Is that Mr. Carto’s signature at the bottom?
Q. What stationery is this one?
A. Liberty Lobby.
Q. Mr. Carto, acting on behalf of Liberty Lobby?
Q. This is a Liberty Lobby mailing list?
A. Well, among them, yes. Several of them, yes.
Q. How much were you to pay for the mailing list?
Q. What were the financial terms of the agreement?
A. Well, I could either — what it was, was I was going to buy a copy of the list and in fact did and basically, I could own a copy and I could then make money off this.
Q. At the time that Liberty Lobby filed bankruptcy, May 13, 1998, did you owe any money on this agreement?
Q. How much did you owe?
Q. Did you pay the $25,000?
Q. When did you pay the $25,000?
A. Like Memorial Day or the day after Memorial Day last year.
Q. How did you pay the $25,000?
A. To Mr. Carto.
Q. Did you pay by check?
Q. How did you pay?
Q. What were the denominations?
A. Hundred dollar bills.
Q. You gave him 250 $100 bills?
THE COURT: And that was last summer, the day after Labor Day?
THE WITNESS: It was in Phoenix, Arizona, the day after Memorial Day. Or maybe it was Memorial Day. It was the Monday of Memorial Day.
BY MR. CLARK:
Q. What year was that?
Q. It was after the filing of the bankruptcy petition?
THE COURT: And it had to do with this October 28, 1996 letter?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
BY MR. CLARK:
Q. Who told you to pay in cash?
A. It was just agreed that that’s how I would pay. Willis and I had agreed I would pay the final $25,000 in cash.
Q. What did Mr. Carto do with the money?
A. I don't know.
Q. Where were you when you gave it to him?
A. In my hotel. We had a hotel room — I had a — there was a conference call to Jubilation put on by The Jubilee Newspaper and this transaction took place at the hotel in Costello, Arizona. I think it was John Gardner’s hotel or something like that.
To the best of my knowledge, this cash was never seen again.
As Carto and Liberty Lobby were put under increasing pressure by Legion’s collection attorneys, Carto became even more irritable and difficult to deal with than normal. After a minor disagreement between Carto and Blodgett escalated to a shouting match, with Blodgett being banned from the offices of Liberty Lobby, Carto quickly fired off this September 28, 1998, fax to Blodgett, intent on safeguarding the mailing list he had “sold” Blodgett, and for which he had already been paid in full:
To: Todd Blodgett
- Our appointment for tomorrow is canceled.
- AAA Lists. I want all documentation and lists returned ASAP. No list is to be used without my specific permission. All requests to use it must be in writing and approval will also be in writing.
- SPOTLIGHT list. Our agreement of 10/28/96, if it ever existed, is canceled and you are specifically not authorized to use it or any part of it. Any list belonging to The SPOTLIGHT or LIBERTY LOBBY is to be returned to Lois Hodges.
Regretfully but sincerely,
Willis A. Carto
So, after being paid in full, as per the October 1996 agreement he himself proposed, Carto unilaterally “cancels” Blodgett’s right to use the mailing lists, with no mention of a refund for Blodgett. Can you begin to see the arrogance of this man? Of course, there’s more!
Knowing full well what actually happened, Carto then roused Liberty Lobby “chairman” Vince Ryan from his near-permanent state of slumber for the purpose of sending this September 30, 1998, letter to Blodgett:
Dear Mr. Blodgett:
In Re. our agreement of October 28, 1996, as no consideration on your part has ever tendered, the contract was void as of January 1, 1997.
We have to know if our list was ever used by you and if so to whom, when and the exact description of the run.
Also, how much money you have collected from the use of our lists.
This letter also instructs you to return all of our mailing lists immediately.
None of our lists, including the AAA lists, are to be used by you at any time.
Where Carto previously made it seem as if the agreement of October 1996 might be a phantasm, Ryan acknowledges its existence, but where Carto acknowledges that monies have been paid, Ryan claims that Blodgett never paid anything! The bottom line at all times, however, is the same: The mailing list — paid for or not — must be returned immediately.
Postscript: Because Blodgett testified (shown in part above), Carto is threatening to sue him for nearly one-quarter of a million dollars on the flimsiest of pretexts. Carto’s attorneys are assisting in this latest example of barratry.