Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why So Secretive C Street?

The Family has long been a secretive organization.[22][23] It maintains no public website and conducts no public fundraising activities.

Prominent political figures have insisted that secrecy and/or privacy are essential to the Family's operation. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan said about the Family, "I wish I could say more about it, but it's working precisely because it is private."[24]

At the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, President George H.W. Bush praised Doug Coe for what he described as “quiet diplomacy, I wouldn’t say secret diplomacy.”[4]

In 2009, Chris Halverson, son of Fellowship co-founder Richard C. Halverson, said that a culture of secrecy is essential to their mission: "If you talked about it, you would destroy that fellowship."[1]

From the 1930s to the 1960s it was organized as a more traditional religious association. In 1966, Fellowship founder Abraham Vereide became concerned about his organization's growing publicity and declared in a letter that it was time to “submerge the institutional image of [the Family].”[25] Author Jeff Sharlet describes this shift in operation:

Thereafter, the Fellowship would avoid at all costs any appearance of an organization... Business would be conducted on the letterhead of public men, who would testify that Fellowship initiatives were their own. Finances would be more ‘man-to-man,’ which is to say, off the books.[26]

In 1975, a member of the Family's inner circle wrote to the group's chief South African member, that their political initiatives

...have always been misunderstood by 'outsiders.' As a result of very bitter experiences, therefore, we have learned never to commit to paper any discussions or negotiations that are taking place. There is no such thing as a 'confidential' memorandum, and leakage always seems to occur. Thus, I would urge you not to put on paper anything relating to any of the work that you are doing...[unless] you know the recipient well enough to put at the top of the page 'PLEASE DESTROY AFTER READING.'

The recipient made copies of this memo for other Family members in Africa, one of which survives.[27][28]

In 1974, after several Watergate conspirators had joined the Family, an LA Times columnist discouraged further inquiries into Washington's "underground prayer movement", i.e. the Fellowship: “They genuinely avoid publicity...they shun it.”[29]

In 2002, Doug Coe denied that the Fellowship sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast, and a Fellowship employeed said, "there is no such thing as the Fellowship."[14]

Former Republican Senator William Armstrong said the group has “made a fetish of being invisible.”[30]

In the 1960s, when the organization first went "underground," the Fellowship began distributing, to involved members of Congress, confidential memos which stressed that “the group, as such, never takes any formal action, but individuals who participate in the group through their initiative have made possible the activities mentioned.”[31]

Family Member and Senator Sam Brownback describes Family members' method of operation: “Typically, one person grows desirous of pursuing an action”—-a piece of legislation, a diplomatic strategy—-“and the others pull in behind.” [32] Indeed, Brownback has often joined with fellow Family members in pursuing legislation. For example, in 1999 he joined together with fellow Family members, Senators Strom Thurmond and Don Nickles to demand a criminal investigation of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and in 2005 Brownback joined with Family member Sen. Tom Coburn to promote the Houses of Worship Act.[33]

C Street "Family"

Rachel Maddow runs down the list for us of C-Street family members who also voted for Bart Stupak’s anti-abortion amendment yesterday. Nothing like having what amounts to a secretive religious cult making health care policy for women in the United States.

Now I want to know. Who are these men who plan to run the world and where are they planted in the government? I think this is one of the most disturbing things I've ever heard. A right wing religious and misogynistic cult is pulling the strings of governmental power. This amounts to a shadow government. And they don't have my interests in mind.

Name Position Notoriety
Sam Brownback[1][80] Sen. (R-KS) Chair of Senate Values Action Team
James Inhofe[1][80] Sen. (R-OK)
Jim DeMint[1][80] Sen. (R-SC) Chairman of Steering Committee
Chuck Grassley[80] Sen. (R-IA) Former Chairman of Finance Committee
Richard Lugar[4] Sen. (R-IN) Former Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee
John Ensign[1][80] Sen. (R-NV) Involved in sex scandal
Tom Coburn[1][80] Sen. (R-OK)
Mark Pryor[1][80] Sen. (D-AR)
Bill Nelson[1][80] Sen. (D-FL)
John Thune[80] Sen. (R-SD)
Mike Enzi[80] Sen. (R-WY)
Joe Pitts[1][80] Rep. (R-PA) Chair of House Values Action Team; Member Committees on Energy & Commerce, Sec. & Coop in Europe
Todd Tiahrt[81] Rep. (R-KS)
Frank Wolf[24] Rep. (R-VA) Member of House Appropriations Panel[1]
Zach Wamp[1][24] Rep. (R-TN)
Mike McIntyre[24] Rep.(D-NC)
Bart Stupak[1] Rep. (D-MI) Author of the Stupak Amendment for the "Affordable Health Care for America Act" that would ban federal funding for abortions.
Michael F. Doyle[1] Rep. (D-PA)
Heath Shuler[1] Rep.(D-NC)
Jerry Moran[1] Rep. (R-KA)

[edit] Members currently serving as state governors

Name Position Notoriety
Mark Sanford[68] Gov. (R-SC) Involved in sex scandal

[edit] Current Family members formerly serving in the executive branch

Name Position Notoriety
John Ashcroft[82] Attorney General AG under G.W. Bush; Also Sen. (R-MO), Member CNP
Dan Quayle[83] Vice President Also former Sen. (R-IN)
James Baker[4] Secretary of State Served under G.H.W. Bush
Robert "Bud" McFarlane[84] National Security Adviser Iran-Contra conspirator; served under Reagan
Ed Meese[85] Attorney General Served under Reagan; also Member CNP
Charles Colson[86] Special Counsel Watergate conspirator; served under Nixon
Melvin Laird[24] Secretary of Defense Persuaded Ford to Pardon Nixon[24]

[edit] Current Family members formerly in the US Congress

Name Position Notoriety
Don Nickles[33] Sen. (R-OK) Also Member Council for National Policy
Mark Hatfield[4] Sen. (R-OR) Chairman of Appropriations Committee
Pete Domenici[80] Sen. (R-NM)
Dan Coats[82] Sen. (R-IN) Promoted Faith-Based Initiatives
Chip Pickering[68] Rep. (R-MS) Involved in sex scandal
Tony P. Hall[87] Rep. (D-OH) Also UN ambassador for hunger issues under G.W. Bush

[edit] Current Family members formerly in the US military

Name Rank Notoriety
John W. Vessey[4] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
David C. Jones[88] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Also member Council on Foreign Relations

[edit] Historical members

The following Family members are all deceased.

Name Position Notoriety
Richard C. Halverson[1] US Senate chaplain "[O]ne of the first to join the Fellowship under found Abraham Vereide in the 1950s."[1]
Richard Nixon[84] US President Joined Family after presidency[84]
Gerald R. Ford[89] US President Pardoned Richard Nixon; also Member CFR
Strom Thurmond[24] Sen. (R-SC) opponent of civil rights
Herman Talmadge[24] Sen. (D-GA) opponent of civil rights
John C. Stennis[4] Sen. (D-MS) opponent of civil rights
Absalom Willis Robertson[24] Sen. (D-VA) Father of Pat Robertson
Arthur F. Burns[89] Chief of Federal Reserve Served under Nixon
Frank Carlson[90] Sen. (R-KS) Kingmaker for Eisenhower
Harold K. Johnson[91] Gen., Chief of Staff of the Army

[edit] Property holdings

The Family owns many properties.

[edit] Fellowship House

(133 C Street SE, Washington, DC. Three-story brick 7,914-square-foot (735.2 m2) rowhouse.)

Known as the "C Street Center" or "Fellowship House," this 1890 townhouse, located behind the Madison Annex of the Library of Congress and near the United States Capitol, has 12 bedrooms, nine bathrooms, five living rooms, four dining rooms, three offices, a kitchen, and a small "chapel".[14]

Rooms are rented to United States Senators and members of Congress who stay there as resident members of the Fellowship, reportedly paying $600 a month in room and board.[14][61]

The house is also the locale for:

  • The Family's Wednesday prayer breakfasts for United States Senators, which has been attended by Senators Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, James Inhofe, John Ensign and Susan Collins
  • A Tuesday night dinner for members of Congress and other Fellowship associates.
  • An annual Ambassador Luncheon.[92] The 2006 event was attended by ambassadors from Turkey, Macedonia, Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Belarus, Mongolia, Latvia, and Moldova.

The property is exempt from real property taxes because it is classified as a "special purpose" use. District of Columbia law exempts from taxation "buildings belonging to religious corporations or societies primarily and regularly used for religious worship, study, training, and missionary activities" and "buildings belonging to organizations which are charged with the administration, coordination, or unification of activities, locally or otherwise, of institutions or organizations entitled to exemption."

Formerly used as a convent for nearby St. Peter's Catholic Church, 133 C Street was the headquarters of Ralph Nader's Congress Watch in the 1970s.[93] In 1980, the building was purchased by Youth with a Mission, Washington, D.C., Inc. (also known as Youth with a Mission National Christian Center, Inc.) YWAM took a note from Alexandro Palau in the principal amount of $448,873.33 to purchase the property. A 1981 modification of the note was signed by Fellowship member Ron Boehme in his capacity as President of YWAM, Washington, D.C. and witnessed by Michael Davidson as its secretary.

Asked about YWAM in 2009, Richard Carver, a retired Air Force general and the President of the Fellowship Foundation, told the Washington Post that his Fellowship group is affiliated with the house, but that he has never heard of Youth With a Mission of Washington, DC, and that he did not have a phone number for it. Carver later said that he had spoken with someone who "at one time was involved with the house" and had "heard secondhand" that the organization that runs the house is "subscribing to the no-comment."[61]

[edit] The Woodmont enclave

The Fellowship owns a number of properties, including the estate known as the Cedars (Doubleday Mansion) located at 2301 North Uhle Street (2145 24th Street North) in the Woodmont neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia. This property, which was purchased by the Fellowship in 1978, includes two additional residences known as the "well house" and "carriage house," the latter of which is used by Doug Coe. The Cedars was determined to be a "place of worship" by the Zoning Administrator in 1976.[94]

Coe has described Cedars as a place "committed to the care of the underprivileged, even though it looks very wealthy." He noted that people might say, "Why don't you sell a chandelier and help poor people?" Answering his own question, Coe said, "The people who come here have tremendous influence over kids." Private Fellowship documents indicate that Cedars was purchased so that "people throughout the world who carry heavy responsibilities could meet in Washington to think together, plan together and pray together about personal and public problems and opportunities."[14] The Cedars hosts a prayer breakfast for foreign ambassadors on Tuesday morning.

In March 1990, YWAM (which also owns the C Street Center) purchased a nearby property located at 2200 24th Street North for $580,000.[95] The property, now known as Potomac Point, is used as a women's dormitory. Ownership of Potomac Point was transferred to the C Street Center on May 6, 1992, and again to the Fellowship Foundation on October 25, 2002. Potomac Point had been owned by Doug Coe's son, Timothy, who sold the property to his parents on November 30, 1989, for $580,000.

A second property, known as Ivanwald, located at 2224 24th Street North and assessed at $916,000, is used as a men's dormitory by the Fellowship. This property was purchased by Jerome A. Lewis and Co. in 1986, and sold to the Wilberforce Foundation in 1987. In 2007, the Wilberforce Foundation transferred Ivanwald to the Fellowship Foundation for $1 million. Jerome A. Lewis is a trustee emeritus of the Trinity Forum and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Petro-Lewis Corporation.[96]

At one time, Doug Coe and his wife, Janice, owned nearby 2560 North 23rd Road, which they sold to Congressman Tony P. Hall (D-OH) and his wife on September 22, 1987, for $100,000.[97] Hall donated $20,000 to the Fellowship Foundation on September 4, 2002,[98], $1,500 to the Wilberforce Foundation,[99] and $1,000 to the Jonathan Coe Memorial of Annapolis, Maryland during the 2001 campaign cycle.[100]

The residence located at 2244 24th Street North, and assessed at $1,458,800, is owned by Merle Morgan, whose wife, Edita, is a director of the Fellowship.[101] It also is identified as the offices of the Fellowship Foundation and Morgan Bros. Corp. (d/b/a Capitol Publishing). Fellow Fellowship director and member Fred Heyn and his wife own 2206 24th Street North.

LeRoy Rooker, the one-time treasurer of the Fellowship and former Director of the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education, and his wife own 2222 24th Street North.[102]

Arthur Lindsley, a Senior Fellow at the C.S. Lewis Institute owns 2226 24th Street North.[103]

[edit] Cedar Point Farm

According to White House records dating from 1978, President Jimmy Carter traveled to Cedar Point Farm by Marine helicopter on November 12, 1978, to attend a Fellowship prayer and discussion group.[48] President Carter placed a call to Menachim Begin while at Cedar Point Farm.[48] The White House records reflect that Cedar Point Farm was owned by Harold Hughes, a former Senator from Iowa and the President of the Fellowship Foundation.[48] Cedar Point Farm was later used by the Wilberforce Foundation.

[edit] Other Family properties

  • "Southeast White House", located at 2909 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, which is used by various community-based organizations.[104] This property is assessed at $736,310 for 2009 tax year.[105]
  • "19th Street House," a two-story, brick apartment building located at 859 19th Street NE,[1] in the Trinidad neighborhood of northeast Washington, D.C., which is assessed at $358,250 for the 2009 tax year.[106] The 19th Street Center is used for afterschool activities.
  • Mount Oak Estates, Annapolis, Maryland. One residential property, formerly owned by Timothy Coe, was sold to Wilberforce Foundation, Inc. for $1.1 million. A second residence is owned by David and Alden Coe and a third is owned by Fellowship associate Marty Sherman. Another nearby property, 1701 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard, is owned by the Fellowship Foundation.
  • Until 1994, the Fellowship operated from the "Fellowship House", a large estate located at 2817 Woodland Drive in Washington, D.C., which was sold to the Ourisman family for more than $2.5 million.