Veterans In Politics International Response to Las Vegas Review Journal Columnist Glenn Cook!

The RJ’s reporters are notoriously biased, and egregiously ignorant at best, and criminally libelous at worst. The most recent case that has come to my attention was forwarded to me by a citizen who knows of VIPI and Mr. Sanson (I personally don’t bother to read the trash that serves as “reporting” in the RJ). This citizen was concerned about the drivel of an article that spouted not only erroneous, but downright vile commentary, about VIPI and Mr. Sanson. After reading the article, it became clear to me this reporter obviously harbors deep jealousy of Mr. Sanson, is incredibly and amusingly childish, and is apparently incapable of doing any kind of fact finding, or perhaps he’s simply lazy and desperately grasping for readership by producing something scandalous and what he sees as sensational. All the facts regarding VIPI are readily available on line.

In the interest of integrity and truth, I have addressed each false statement individually, for clarity’s sake.

“…Veterans in Politics International, a decidedly local organization barely connected to veterans and severely lacking in legitimacy…”
I don’t know “who” decided this. VIPI has State chapters in Hawaii, Michigan, California, Northern Nevada, Missouri, South Carolina, and we are in the process of training International Presidents for our England and Australia chapters. “…barely connected to veterans…” Every single administrative officer of VIPI, in all chapters, is military veterans of their country. Can’t be much more connected. “…severely lacking in legitimacy…” VIPI is an official organization filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, and enjoys a “non-profit” tax status. How much more legitimacy does an organization need?

“…an outfit that appears to represent the political consensus of the valley’s growing veteran community…”

VIPI has never made this claim. VIPI is not a veteran’s advocacy group, though we do advocate for veterans issues in the law as a matter of course…VIPI is a group of veterans involved in the political process…hence the name “Veterans In Politics, International”. Our mission statement is readily available on our website and includes the following:
“To educate, organize, and awaken our veterans and their families to select, support and intelligently vote for those candidates whom would help create a better world, to protect ourselves from our own government(s) in a culture of corruption, and to be the political voice for those in other groups who do not have one.”

With these further stated goals and values:
“We address the future of politics as warriors and juggernauts, poised as the political ‘sword of Damocles’ in the body politic, acting in a combative rather than reactive capacity.

Through a stringent evaluation process, Veterans In Politics, International, Inc. openly interviews, selects, and then endorses political candidates.

Chosen candidates are publicly presented the VIPI endorsement, and then promoted by VIPI membership.

These procedures are conducted to ensure that only people of the highest quality of character occupies our elected seats, and to obtain the VIP mission statement.

We continue to fight for the freedom our country, to uphold our vow to protect and defend our Country and our United States Constitution, beyond our military service.”

“In reality, Veterans in Politics carries out its endorsement process primarily to attract donor support and boost the ego of its president, Steve Sanson.”

I find this statement so absurd it’s laughable, except that it was said by a reporter in a newspaper and presented as factual. How on earth would a RJ reporter know the motives of VIPI’s endorsement process, which its donors are, or what satisfies Steve Sanson’s ego? Does he present any evidence as to the results of his investigation, like a financial statement from the Secretary of State’s office? Is he psychic? There’s no other way he could know. I’m sure he’s never spent any time with Steve to learn anything about him or ask questions about sponsorship. He’s certainly never asked me. I could have saved him some time and told him that until recently, VIPI did not actively seek donor support of any kind. In fact, it wasn’t until I became a part of VIPI, about 3 years ago, that I mentioned to Steve that we should seek sponsorship to assist in the cost of what we do, which gets pricey quickly.

“In an email exchange with Sanson that Harter shared with me, Harter wrote…”

How astounding that what I have to assume to be an intelligent sitting judge would submit an email exchange to a newspaper reporter, regardless of what that exchange was. Shouldn’t a person holding that level of office be mature and capable enough to deal with any obstacle that might be presented by a political group? Although in this particular exchange, Sanson is merely adhering to the rules of the VIPI interview process. No candidate is allowed special consideration in the interview process, but especially based on an obviously false claim of religious consideration. It does make one wonder what is the motivation behind turning this over to a reporter. Clearly this was driven by fear. Why would a grown adult act so childishly as to “tattle” on VIPI to a reporter, on an issue that was in no way inappropriate on the part of VIPI? It’s also convenient that much of the email exchange was left out of the report. This is hardly newsworthy, so it begs the question why the RJ would be so keen to make a mountain out of it at the behest of a judge. The fact that the reporter grasped so desperately at the race card to accuse Sanson is ludicrous and laughable. I giggle every time I read it.

“I wonder: Does Veterans in Politics pre-screen judges and candidates who have the endorsement of the Asian Chamber of Commerce? Will Sanson personally question District Judge Jerry Tao, who was scheduled to interview this Saturday, about his heritage (Tao was born in Taiwan) to verify that he values democracy? And what other activities by judges and judicial candidates might prompt Veterans in Politics to investigate their activities?”

This series of questions is obviously meant to discredit Steve and the VIPI endorsement process, but not only fails miserably to raise any serious questions, it’s so fantastically infantile and asinine in its urgent attempt to sound smart I can barely address it. Honestly…

“I reached Sanson on Friday to ask.”

And conveniently left out any of the conversation that could be twisted and used as anything resembling anything sensational.

“As I wrote in September, Veterans in Politics hosted a meet-and-greet with valley judges that were sponsored by Nevada Judicial Watch, an anonymous Facebook page and Twitter account that purported to be a group of lawyers and judges who served as courtroom watchdogs.
That wasn’t the case. Nevada Judicial Watch was the creation of Lisa Willardson,”

Yes, we hosted a meet and greet, with the goal of educating the public and giving the judges and citizens a chance to meet face to face. In attendance were 32 sitting judges, City of North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, and CCSD Trustee Dr. Linda Young. Hardly the work of an illegitimate hack outfit that only uses its endorsement process to boost Sanson’s ego.

We had several sponsors, not just Nevada Judicial Watch. They included; attorney Andre Lagomarsino, attorney Craig Mueller, attorney Paul S. Padda, attorney Richard F. Scotti, Clark County Judge James Bixler Department 24, Clark County Judge Gloria O’Malley Department B, AND Nevada Judicial Watch.

Nevada Judicial Watch was INDEED a group of lawyers/judges who served as judicial watchdogs. Their identity is their business, and without their permission, shouldn’t be divulged by anyone, if they wish to remain anonymous to avoid retaliation. Lisa Willardson may or may not have created Nevada Judicial Watch, only she can say, and how convenient for this reporter that she can’t speak for herself. However, I do know for a fact she was not its only member.

“After I unraveled Willardson’s role in Nevada Judicial Watch…”

Nothing was unraveled, it’s not a huge secret in the political activist community. We just don’t like sharing details with ignorant reporters.

“Who was behind Nevada Judicial Watch?

“I wish I could tell you, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy,” he said. (A news release promoting this weekend’s endorsement interviews said “Veterans In Politics take [sic] pride in transparency.” Ha!)”

Everything that is done on behalf of VIPI by Steve or any of VIPI’s officers or members is done with COMPLETE transparency. Not divulging the identity of the members of a group what wishes to remain anonymous and has nothing to do with VIPI was Steve’s personal right, and has nothing to do with VIPI business. Adding “Ha!” to the end of that statement reveals the childish emotions driving this personal attack.

“I asked him if Lisa Willardson and Steven Jones were running the group. After a long pause, Sanson said, “You’re killing me, Glenn Cook!””

Again, creative omission of conversational content for artistic purposes rules this so-called “report”.

“The sponsorship was substantial enough to nearly buy Willardson a spot on the Veterans in Politics panel that’s interviewing judges and judicial candidates and helps decide endorsements. Sanson’s confirmation of Willardson’s potential role in his endorsement process was a classic:

“How the (expletive) did you know that?” he said. “That was a conversation I had just with her! Are you bugging my phone?””

This statement by the RJ reporter is idiotic at best and completes fabrication at worst. Where is the evidence that this reporter has ANY idea what the amount of sponsorship was from Nevada Judicial Watch or any of the other sponsors, he has no place to speak about how substantial any of them might have been. NOBODY buys a spot on the interview panel and that this reporter claims this while never having questioned any of the panel members or sponsors makes this statement criminally libelous. Not to mention that interview panels are completely random and different at each interview, vary greatly in number, and are of a sufficient number that any single panel members vote has relatively little influence on the rest of the panels voting. This information is readily available on the website, and that this reporter made these claims without interviewing any of the participants or checking his facts with the VIPI website brings into serious question his motives and integrity.

The reporter may have made a wild guess about Willardson’s participation on the interview panel, but there was a substantial portion of this conversation that was left out of this report, and the fact that most of it was said jokingly. Again. However, even so, Willardson’s appearance on an interview panel in no way guarantee’s the endorsement of any candidate.

“Southern Nevada’s judges and judicial candidates should ask themselves whether they want the endorsement of a hack outfit that would partner with Jones and Willardson and all but accuse a sitting judge of being a communist.”

Hack outfit? How is this objective reporting? An opinion is one thing, but spewing vile hatred like that in a public forum indicates an overly emotional reaction that is not warranted by the actions of VIPI. It does make one wonder what causes such a vehement emotional reaction.
Having a sponsor is hardly “partnering”. I will send the RJ a dictionary…they seem to be in short supply.

Accuse a sitting of being a communist? WTH? LOL!!!! At BEST the only accusation made was that a candidate was asking for preferential treatment and for VIPI to disregard its own rules to accommodate him, using false statements about his inability to commit to events due to religious concerns as an excuse. All of which was proven with the fact that evidence shows he attended a political function for a special interest group on a day he had claimed he could not. The fact that this group was Chinese is immaterial. Attendance by the candidate to ANY groups event on a day the candidate claimed he could not would have suggested that the candidate found that group more important or deserving of his time. The reporter trying to turn this into a race issue is weak and baseless.

Really, RJ, this is the best in reporting you have to offer? No wonder readership has fallen to dismal levels. However, desperately making up what passes as sensational stories to drum up interest will only backfire when the facts are laid out. I find it deplorable that this reporter attacks Steve in such a personal manner, even if it was at the suggestion of a judicial candidate. Steve is a combat veteran with more than 14 years of service. He was born in Jamaica, and believes in this country enough to have pledged to give his life for it if need be. He continues to fight for freedom through VIPI, working hard every day to bring political education to veterans…and the public at large is free to take advantage of the tools that are provided. He never touts his own accomplishments, there are many…which dispels the rumors that he uses VIPI to feed his ego. VIPI was founded in 1993 by Castle P. Anderson and Steve was voted into the Presidency position by the then membership. Nobody in VIPI can imagine a better President to lead VIPI to meet its mission.

VIPI’s process is absolutely open to everyone, and all are welcome to witness/participate in the process. We work EVERY DAY to make sure we all live in a world where justice and freedom are truly available to all, equally. All information is available on the website and contact information of all officers are freely given. Anyone is free to contact all of us at any time, for any reason.

Karen Steelmon
VIPI Auxiliary Coordinator/Events Coordinator

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