Frank VanderSloot, the Idaho billionaire who, along with his employees and relatives, continues to pump more than $1 million into Mitt Romney's campaign bank account and super PACs supporting Romney, has had a volatile week in the national media.
Monday night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow likened VanderSloot, founder of Malaleuca (a manufacturer of cosmetic, nutritional and skin-care products) to a 19th century copper baron. Maddow referred to salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald's recent essay that accused VanderSloot of using "thuggish" tactics to silence gay-friendly journalists. Greenwald, a recent guest of the ACLU Idaho, wrote the column after meeting with Idaho journalist and regular BW reporter Jody May-Chang.
"[May-Chang] mentioned to me the series of threats issued to local LGBT journalists and bloggers by VanderSloot," wrote Greenwald. "Unbenknownst to May-Chang at the time, she, too, had been targeted for the crime of speaking critically of the Idaho CEO."
May-Chang, in the wake of her 2007 reporting of VanderSloot's political support of then-Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, received a series of communications from Melaleuca's legal team saying she had reported "inflammatory rhetoric" with "false accusations of bigotry." May-Chang said VanderSloot's lawyers continued to badger her at home.
"But May-Chang is determined not to succumb to this bullying," wrote Greenwald. "Or to relinquish her right to opine and report on the conduct of a very significant political figure in her state."
Additionally, VanderSloot's wife reportedly made a $100,000 donation to the Prop 8 campaign, the effort the ban gay marriage in California. KIFI-TV in Idaho Falls also reported that VanderSloot had attempted to "out" a gay Idaho Falls reporter, which he denied, but made certain to mention the reporter's name in his statement of denial.
"It was public knowledge that [he] was gay," said VanderSloot.
In a lengthy statement released on Tuesday, VanderSloot contended that he was gay-friendly.
"I have many gay friends who I love and respect," he wrote. "And I believe they love and respect me."