Alan Gottlieb

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Alan Gottlieb is the founder and Director of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE), Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the Executive Director of the Second Amendment Foundation.

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

Wise Use Movement

Since the late 1980's, CDFE has been at the center of the Wise Use Movement.

Mr. Gottlieb founded CDFE in 1974, along with two anti-gun control groups; the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Second Amendment Foundation. Other Gottlieb ventures include the Free Enterprise Press (book publisher), the American Press Syndicate and the American Broadcasting Network. CDFE's Free Enterprise Press has published several books by Ron Arnold, CDFE's Executive Vice President, including Ecology Wars (1987) and Ecoterror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature, the World of the Unabomber (1997). [1]

In the last days of the 1992 presidential campaign, George H.W. Bush denounced "environmental extremists". At the heart of this imagined green conspiracy was the "Ozone Man", Senator Al Gore Jr., author of Earth in the Balance. Bush's attack on environmentalism failed to save his candidacy, but it was a high water mark for the wise use movement, a network of loosely allied right-wing, astroturf and corporate interest groups which attack environmentalism in order to promote unfettered resource exploitation. They are often funded by timber, mining, and chemical companies. In return, they loudly claim that the well-documented hole in the ozone layer doesn't exist; carcinogenic chemicals in the air and water don't harm anyone and trees won't grow properly without (government subsidized) clear cutting. Proponents were temporarily slowed by Bush's defeat and media exposure of the movement's founders' connections to Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church network. However, it quickly rebounded with relentless disinformation campaigns about the purpose and meaning of environmental laws in every state. According to wise users, environmentalists are pagans, eco-nazis and communists to be fought with shouts and threats. [2]

Business Practices & Tax Evasion

Mr. Gottlieb seemed to possess a genius for dancing along the edge of legal business practices. He purchased the CDFE headquarters with money from two of his own non-profit foundations, then transferred the building title to his own name. He then charged his own foundations over $8,000 per month in rent.

He also spent seven months in prison for tax evasion. [3] In 1984, Mr. Gottlieb pleaded guilty to underpaying income tax returns by $17,000 and served ten months in Federal prison. [4]

Right-Wing Publishing & Communications Complex

Mr. Gottlieb is the sole proprietor of a profitable right wing publishing complex which writes, edits and distributes conservative books and magazines. He is also owner of KBNP, a business radio station in Portland, Oregon and Chairman of the Board of the Talk America Radio Network and its affiliated stations nationwide.

In addition to the one anti-environmental and pro-gun non-profits, his Liberty Park complex in Bellevue, Washington houses Merril Associates, of which he is a sole proprietor; the for-profit corporation, Merril Mail Marketing, Inc. (which funds his other organizations); and The Service Bureau, Inc.; a non-profit cooperative corporation that provides fund raising, accounting and other services to members. [5]

Conservative Fundraising

Alan Gottlieb is an entrepreneur with a knack for cashing in on right-wing causes. According to Mr. Gottlieb in an October 26, 1994 interview with Eastside Week:

"I am the premiere anti-communist, free-enterprise, laissez-faire capitalist."

CDFE launched the Wise Use Movement in 1988, becoming the most powerful anti-environmental force in the country, with active member groups in every state. Its clout in Congress has also been able to halt pending environmental legislation. He is also the president of two non-profit corporations which form the most potent pro-gun force in the country, outside of the National Rifle Association.

He is considered one of most successful right wing fund raisers outside of Washington, DC. [6]

Direct Mail

According to Outside Magazine:

"The letters he composes are not long on subtlety or literary polish, but they are extremely adept at pinpointing the recipients' deepest anxieties and eliciting floods of righteous indignation."

In his 1993 book Trashing the Economy, he and CDFE Vice President Ron Arnold, write with startling frankness that:

"The message of the direct mail letter must appeal to three base emotions; Fear, Hate and Revenge... (The) fund raising mailer must present you with a crisis -- a problem won't do...That crisis must frighten you...If you are not frightened, you won't send money.
Then the direct mail letter must present you with a bogeyman against whom to focus your anger... Once you've been frightened and made to hate the bogeyman, the successful direct mail appeal must offer you a way to get revenge against the bogeyman -- the payoff for your contribution. The more soul-satisfying the revenge, the better the letter pulls. All this must be dressed up in an appeal that appears to have a high moral tone, but which -- without you realizing it -- works on your lower emotions." [7]

Gottlieb and Arnold are describing environmental direct-mail pitches, however in an interview on CDFE, Mr. Arnold added "in direct mail, fear, hate and revenge go a long way." According to Mr. Gottlieb, $2.25 comes back for dollar invested in direct response letters. He may have had this in mind when he told a reporter that:

"All I have to do is turn the spigot on and the money just flows."

Direct mail profits subsidize his three foundations as well as organizations where he serves as a director or board member. Remaining revenue is raised for client conservative organizations and candidates who contract for his services. He also generates income from publishing Wise Use and anti-gun control books through the Free Enterprise Press and the for-profit Merril Press. He also gives political-action and fund-raising seminars to Wise-Use groups. For a fee, he instructs groups on direct-response cash drives, recruiting new members and utilizing the media.

Fake letter from Congressman

In June of 1994, Alan Gottlieb sent a mass mailing which appeared to be from Rep. Philip M. Crane, a Republican from Illinois, though the postmark was Bellevue. The envelope bore a replica of the Congressional seal and in large, bold letters identified the sender as: The Honorable Philip M. Crane, Rep. Crane, Member of Congress and bore his signature:

"Dear Friends,
I recently asked Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, for the names of a few selected Americans with whom I could communicate directly on a matter of great importance to our gun rights. ...Yours was one of the names Alan gave me. Will you join with me and U. S. Senators Bob Dole, Orrin Hatch, Trent Lott, Don Nickles and other distinguished Americans as a member of the National Advisory Council of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?" [8]

Other interviews & quotes

New York Times

For conservative fundraisers like Mr. Gottlieb, the enemies were Senator Edward M. Kennedy and gun control. However, he realized the potential financial rewards of opposing environmentalism. According to Mr. Gottlieb in a December 1991 article in the New York Times by reporter Timothy Egan:

"For us ...the environmental movement has become the perfect bogeyman." [9]

Memberships & Chairs

Mr. Gottlieb has been a member of the board of governors on the powerful and ultra-secretive Council for National Policy.

Other ultra conservative groups where Mr. Gottlieb has served as a director or board member, include the American Conservative Union, Young Americans for Freedom, American Political Action Committee and the Council for National Policy. [10]

Articles & Sources


  1. Center for Defense of Free Enterprise, Spin Profiles, accessed January 2010
  2. William Kevin Burke The Wise Use Movement: Right-Wing Anti-Environmentalism, The Public Eye, 1993
  3. William Kevin Burke The Wise Use Movement: Right-Wing Anti-Environmentalism, The Public Eye, 1993
  4. Jim Halpin, Paul de Armond Alan Gottlieb: The Merchant of Fear, Sweet Liberty, 1994, 1995
  5. Jim Halpin, Paul de Armond Alan Gottlieb: The Merchant of Fear, Sweet Liberty, 1994, 1995
  6. Jim Halpin, Paul de Armond Alan Gottlieb: The Merchant of Fear, Sweet Liberty, 1994, 1995
  7. Ron Arnold, Alan Alan Gottlieb, Trashing the Economy: How Runaway Environmentalism is Wrecking America, Free Enterprise Press, page 75, 1994
  8. Jim Halpin, Paul de Armond Alan Gottlieb: The Merchant of Fear, Sweet Liberty, 1994, 1995
  9. Timothy Egan Fund Raisers Tap Anti- Environmentalism, New York Times, pg 1, December 19, 1991
  10. Jim Halpin, Paul de Armond Alan Gottlieb: The Merchant of Fear, Sweet Liberty, 1994, 1995

External Resources

Books by Alan Gottlieb