Wanted: A real criminal

Looking for scandal, a Buchanan organizer claims another campaign is harboring a fugitive.


Anthony York
July 24, 2000 11:39PM (UTC)

Politics is a dirty business, fraught with name-calling, back-stabbing and dirty tricks. Nowhere has this been more apparent than over at the Reform Party, where former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and Natural Law Party member John Hagelin are gunning for the party's nomination, and its $12.6 million in federal matching funds.

The Buchanan folks call Hagelin a cult leader, no doubt because of his close ties to the so-called "giggling guru," Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Hagelin's supporters call Buchanan a fascist using Gestapo tactics to wrest control of the Reform Party. The name-calling makes for entertaining politics, if nothing else. But it looks as though some Buchanan supporters crossed over the line when they accused Hagelin's press secretary of being a fugitive. A Buchanan supporter and organizer said Hagelin's spokesman is a former member of the FBI's most wanted list, though no evidence exists to support her charge.

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In an e-mail sent out by Linda Muller, Buchanan's unofficial but widely influential grass-roots organizer, she claims that Hagelin press secretary Robert Roth was the same Robert Roth who spent time on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in the 1970s for his affiliation with the leftist terrorist organization the Weathermen.

"Did you know that Rob Roth, Hagelin's press secretary spent seven years on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list?" Muller asked members of Buchanan's Internet Brigade in a July 14 e-mail. "Back in sixties old Rob was a member of the revolutionary 'Weather Underground.' -- Keep that in mind as [Reform Party secretary and Hagelin supporter Jim] Mangia and the Crew continue the rape of this party."

Reached by Salon on Friday, Roth said: "I was never a member of the Weathermen. I was actually in jail for an hour once when I was in college because I cut through the backyard of an abandoned house and a neighbor called the cops. I was released right away and all the charges were dropped. That's about the extent of my run-ins with the law."

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Muller's charge was also picked up by Justin Raimondo, a columnist for the Web site antiwar.com. "I called him up after his column ran," Roth said. "I asked him how he could possibly have done that without calling me. He said the picture on the back of my book looked like the picture from the New York Times story about the other Robert Roth in 1977, so he figured I was the same guy."

Robert Roth, the fugitive, graduated from high school in New York in 1966. Robert Roth, Hagelin spokesman, graduated from Redwood High School in Larkspur, Calif., in 1968. Robert Roth, the fugitive, graduated from Columbia University. Robert Roth, the Hagelin spokesman, from the University of California at Berkeley.

Roth says that while Raimondo capitulated and apologized for falsely accusing the press secretary, Muller "continues to propagate those lies."

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"I went to Berkeley, I admit that, but I never blew up any buildings," says Roth. Muller was traveling Friday, and could not be reached for comment.


Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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