Nativism Watch

The 3 Men Behind Americans for Sheriff Joe: Profile of William Saracino (Part 3)

Imagine 2050 Staff • Jul 25, 2012

Brandstater (l) & Saracino (r)

Over the past two days, we’ve published three other pieces (links below) exploring the controversial histories of the 3 men behind Americans for Sheriff Joe (AfSJ), an independent expenditure committee that in its first quarter of existence has raised $1 million for a vast-reaching direct mail campaign in support of Arpaio’s reelection.

What follows are some of William Saracino’s connections to extremists and the far-Religious Right:

The Council for National Policy (CNP):

  • Saracino became a member of CNP in 1984. In his book the The Coors Connection, Russ Bellant writes, “The Council is a secretive group of the foremost right-wing activists and funders in the United States. Morton Blackwell of CNP has said, ‘The policy [of CNP] is that we don’t discuss who attends the meetings or what is said.” According to an ABC News story profiling CNP, Steve Baldwin, its executive director at the time, said, “We control everything in the world.” Bellant illustrates further: “The origins of the CNP are not found in mainstream Conservatism or the traditional Republican party but in the nativist and reactionary circles of the Radical right, including the John Birch Society.”
  • CNP launches in 1981. Apparently, after submitting a biography and a resume, its executive committee must vote unanimously to accept an applicant.
  • Thomas F. Ellis was its president from 1982-83 and was an executive committee member when Saracino was accepted in 1984. Thomas F. Ellis was a top fundraiser and campaign head for Jesse Helms, and is the former director of the Pioneer Fund. Founded in 1937, the Pioneer fund is a foundation that exists solely to promote the virulently racist pseudo-science of eugenics. According to Bellant’s book, “Ellis has said, ‘The eventual goal of this movement […] is the disappearance of the Negro race’.” Pioneer Fund has heavily financed English white nationalist and Nazi Northern League member Roger Pearson, who in his book Eugenics and Race wrote, “If a nation with a more advanced, more specialized, or in any way superior set of genes mingles with, instead of exterminating, an inferior tribe, then it commits racial suicide.” Pioneer has, of course, also backed the efforts of the white nationalist, eugenics proponent John Tanton, the progenitor of the contemporary anti-immigrant movement.
  • Some past board and/or executive committee members of CNP include: Richard Schoff (former KKK member), Oliver North (Contra scandal), Rev. Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly (Eagle Forum), and many others.
  • This Human Events article from January 30, 1981, seems to almost accidently “out” many early CNP’ers. Saracino’s name can be found there.

Gun Owners of California (GOC)/Gun Owners of America(GOA):

  • In a July 2004 issue of the California Political Review, Saracino pens an article in which he describes himself “as a political action committee director (Gun Owners of California, Gun Owners of America) from 1977 to 1984.” In an April 2, 1998, letter addressed to “All [California] Legislative Candidates” from Bill Saracino himself, he is listed as executive director of GOC. According to the LA Times and California Journal, Saracino acted as executive director of both groups from at least August 1982 to November 1984, operating the two separately from one office space across the street from the CA state capitol building in Sacramento.
  • GOA’s founder is the infamous Larry Pratt, an inspirational figurehead who, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “played a crucial role in introducing the concept of citizen militias to the radical right.” In recent years, SPLC has reported that Pratt has spoken at events with Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers, who SPLC identifies as a fringe-group with extreme anti-government beliefs.
  • Famously to some, Pratt spoke at a 3-day gathering of extremists, the significance of which will outlive all attendees—the 1992 Estes Park, Colorado meeting. Pratt was invited by the gathering’s organizer, Pete Peters, a leading pastor in the racist Christian Identity movement. Other speakers included Richard Butler, leader of the neo-Nazi/Christian Identity group Aryan Nations; and Louis Beam, a former KKK leader and Aryan Nations member who coined the notion of “leaderless resistance” within America’s circles of organized white-racists.
  • In a blog from February 2003 posted on the GOA website, Pratt uses the case of Wayne Lockridge in Arizona as evidence as to why ordinary citizens should be allowed to defend America’s southern border with arms, and to shoot immigrants if necessary because the government won’t ever “prosecute such illegals.”

The California Political Review (CPR):

  • Saracino has been on the editorial board of CPR since its start in 1990, and remains a regular contributor across its 20 plus years in existence. CPR has functioned as an intellectual hub of debate and essaying for dozens of far-right thinkers and activists.
  • Just some of those whose names and work have passed across the desk of Saracino include: David Horowitz, founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center which funds much of the leadership of America’s organized Islamophobia movement; Joseph Farah, founder of World Net Daily; Rush Limbaugh; Pat Nolan (see Part 4); Newt Gingrich; Ronald Reagan; Sam Paredes, future executive director of Guns Owners of America; HL Richardson, founder of Gun Owners of California; Steve Baldwin of CNP, and Allen Brandstater, now of Americans for Sheriff Joe.
  • Pat Nolan penned a tribute article titled, “Political Difference Maker: Bill Saracino’s quarter century quietly shaping Sacramento politics,” which appeared in the March 2001 issue of CPR. According to Nolan, Saracino worked for Jesse Helms’ 1st Senate campaign in 1972. Thomas F. Ellis (referred to above) was running Helm’s campaign at the time.

Past Campaign Misdeeds:

  • In 1997 Saracino was fined $36,000 by California’s Campaign Ethics Commission for 26 counts of violations, including failing “to collect and maintain required records for payments to himself between 1993 and 1996” when he was serving as treasurer for 3 different PACs.


Read: Part 1Part 2Part 4

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