The following report, first released on August 30, has been updated for the benefit of journalists who may be looking into the LaRouche organization as a result of Avi Klein's article, "Publish and Perish," in the November issue of The Washington Monthly and Chip Berlet's online interview with Kenneth Kronberg's widow. Both were published late last week. Given LaRouche's success in recent years in building a highly visible youth movement on college campuses throughout the United States, the current controversy swirling around him deserves national media attention.
OCTOBER 29, 2007--Anger in and around Lyndon LaRouche's National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC)--a formerly wealthy political cult based in Leesburg, Va.--may be approaching the boiling point since LaRouche and top aides released a string of memos blaming the widow of a longtime NCLC member for her husband's suicide last spring, and accusing her of working for the "enemy cause." (LaRouche, 84, is a convicted felon and eight-time Presidential candidate best known for his claim that the Queen of England pushes drugs.)
The suicide was 58-year-old Kenneth Kronberg, a follower of LaRouche for most of his adult life who jumped from a highway overpass in Sterling, Va. last April 11--only hours after LaRouche issued a briefing to the NCLC membership that singled out the printing company Mr. Kronberg ran as the "worst" example of ideological laxness in the organization, and suggested that those responsible either shape up or kill themselves.
After months of behind-the-scenes tension following the suicide, Mr. Kronberg's widow, Marielle (Molly) Kronberg, came under open attack from the LaRouche organization in August. The first of the memos attacking her was dated Aug. 18. It was obtained by author and longtime LaRouche critic Dennis King and released on his LaRouche Watch website (click HERE), along with a second memo, dated Aug. 19, which was originally made public on a FACT Net message board where ex-LaRouche supporters discuss their former leader's misdeeds.
LaRouche announced in the Aug. 18 memo, which he himself wrote, that "honest" members of the organization (i.e., LaRouche himself and those who follow him unquestioningly) "have no reason to feel any guilt" over the fate of Mr. Kronberg. The memo, whose circulation was restricted to members of the NCLC's National Committee, also alluded to an "enemy who is guilty of contributing to that misfortune" (Mr. Kronberg's suicide), and implied that contributions to the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign by "Bush-League Molly," as LaRouche characterized Mrs. Kronberg, were somehow responsible for her husband's decision--three years later--to take his own life.
The Aug. 19 memo--an unsigned item in the Ops Bulletin section of the LaRouche organization's daily briefing--revealed to the membership as a whole that the new enemy is Mrs. Kronberg, herself a long-time member of the National Committee. (Friends and relatives of the Kronbergs say that Mrs. Kronberg grew disillusioned with LaRouche and his worldview at the end of the 1980s and subsequently became active in the local Episcopal church in Leesburg, where she has served as a lay reader, as co-director of the Sunday School, and in other capacities. She remained in the NCLC and on its National Committee, those close to her say, in order to stand by her husband and to try to help shield him from increasingly abusive attacks by LaRouche's inner circle--attacks that would have grown even sharper if she had left the organization.)
Mrs. Kronberg was accused in the Aug. 19 memo of supporting "fascism" because she had made donations to the Republicans in the last Presidential election cycle. Characterizing these donations as a betrayal of the LaRouche organization's, and supposedly her own husband's, "all-out war" against "Bush-Cheney," the memo concluded, "Does anything more need be said in the matter of Ken's suicide?"
Former members of the LaRouche organization dissected the two August memos on the FACT Net discussion board for over a week (click HERE for a selection of the postings). Participants in the online discussion wrote that LaRouche's attack on Mrs. Kronberg was preceded by several unsuccessful attempts to absolve the NCLC of any responsibility for her husband's suicide by blaming it on a number of factors, among them plots involving several high-level defectors from the organization including Uwe Friesecke, a former leader of the German branch.
According to former members, LaRouche singled out Ken Kronberg a number of years ago as a scapegoat for the organization's financial difficulties--and subjected him to incessant verbal abuse and ideological denunciations, while withholding payments on printing bills to such an extent that PMR Printing Company, the firm that Mr. Kronberg had built to help the LaRouche movement, ended up with crippling debts. One posting by a friend of Mr. Kronberg said that LaRouche had subjected the PMR owner to "unbearable financial, legal, and psychological pressure."
To demonstrate LaRouche's role in driving Mr. Kronberg to suicide, a former LaRouche follower posted on FACT Net the transcript of a Nov. 21, 2005 conference call between LaRouche and his National Committee members, with Mr. Kronberg (himself a National Committee member) participating, that contained harsh remarks by the NCLC chairman regarding PMR and its management. The person posting the transcript described LaRouche's comments therein as "absolutely typical of the kind of abuse Lyndon LaRouche was heaping on Kenneth Kronberg for years."
In the transcript LaRouche alludes to an alleged "scam" at PMR. "They almost bankrupted us....they went deeply into debt, and they dragged us into debt," he complains.
FACT Net discussion participants with direct knowledge of the LaRouche movement's history say it was LaRouche himself, through his nonpayment of huge printing bills for his political tracts, who created the financial bind that forced PMR to close its doors only two days after Mr. Kronberg's suicide.
LaRouche's feelings of hostility towards Mr. Kronberg apparently were not allayed by the latter's death. In an April 19 letter (supposedly of condolence) to Mrs. Kronberg, LaRouche asserted that "we either cling to that dedication [to the LaRouche movement] of our living, or we were no more than virtually beasts." LaRouche also advised Mrs. Kronberg that, "the ugly, horror-stricken moment must pass."
Two months later, in a daily briefing statement entitled "A Mother F_____'s Fears," LaRouche claimed that the "PMR leaders" (i.e., Mr. Kronberg) had refused to heed LaRouche's financial advice at key points in the firm's history. LaRouche referred to this alleged failure to heed his advice as "psychopathological denial."
"As our own experience of the results of such cases has shown us," LaRouche added ominously, in a clear allusion to Mr. Kronberg's death, "such forms of hysterical denial of reality can be deadly."
As to Mrs. Kronberg's support for Republican candidates, ex-LaRouchians say this has been known for years by many in the organization, and was never made into a public issue until now. They assert that Mr. and Mrs. Kronberg had a live-and-let-live attitude toward their political differences. One posting on FACT Net compared them to James Carville and Mary Matalin, the well-known Washington couple of whom the former is a close adviser to the Clintons, and the latter a close adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Former NCLC members noted, in a series of FACT Net postings on Aug. 26 (see edited version HERE), that the biggest supporter, historically, of Republican Party candidates within the LaRouche movement is LaRouche himself, not Mrs. Kronberg. An individual who was active in the NCLC during the 1970s and 1980s and posts under the user name "xlcr4life" described LaRouche's vigorous support in past years for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George Herbert Walker Bush, alleging that this support ended only when the first President Bush failed to give LaRouche a pardon after the latter's 1988 Federal conviction for mail fraud and conspiracy. (See Chapter 15 of Dennis King's Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism for further details of LaRouche's attempts to curry favor with top Republicans.)
One of the Aug. 26 postings on FACT Net claims that LaRouche's now-defunct U.S. Labor Party courted future Vice President Cheney back in the 1970s, and names the LaRouche follower who allegedly was the contact person. Today, Cheney is LaRouche's number-one hate figure and is referred to as a "beast man" and a British agent of influence in the LaRouche movement's publications.
LaRouche's attempt to put a conspiracy-laced spin on the Kronberg suicide took an even more contradictory twist in September and October. In a Sept. 10 internal document that was leaked to outsiders and posted on FACT Net the following day, LaRouche wrote:
Some people were shocked by the evidence...that [Mrs. Kronberg] had gone over to the political enemy. Why? I was already aware of this by about 1990....[H]er perfervid devotion to ways and things Brutish [a sarcastic allusion to LaRouche's favorite enemy, the British--ed.] marked her as the wife of a loyal member who had gone over to intellectual affiliation with the enemy cause.
But a FACT Net participant asked in a posting two days later: Why, if LaRouche was aware of Mrs. Kronberg's treachery as early as 1990, did he allow her to continue working as an editor for the NCLC's twice-a-week newspaper--and why had he never removed her from the NCLC's National Committee (even after the suicide of her husband which she had supposedly caused)? The posting also asked why LaRouche was suddenly referring to the late Mr. Kronberg as a "loyal member" after months of suggesting the opposite.
The NCLC chairman returned to the subject in an Oct. 21 speech by electronic hookup to LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) cadre schools in Houston and Los Angeles. Addressing an audience of young people who lack any personal acquaintance with the Kronbergs or any knowledge of the byzantine world of the NCLC's Leesburg headquarters, LaRouche again attacked Mrs. Kronberg while continuing to allege that Mr. Kronberg had remained a loyalist to the end.
Claiming in his speech that the NCLC had long been under attack by "certain sections of British intelligence," LaRouche named Mrs. Kronberg as an example of people who were
being controlled by these circuits, and had been controlled by them for some time. Although her husband, Ken, who had committed suicide recently, was quite loyal to the organization, she was an enemy, actually. So, there wasn't much loss.
As of last weekend, the FACT Net participants had not yet commented on LaRouche's latest rant, and they scarcely needed to: The November issue of The Washington Monthly had just hit the newsstands with evidence that makes clear to any rational person that the NCLC's current financial problems and the dissension among its older members are due to the actions of one person and one person alone: not Molly Kronberg, not Ken Kronberg, but Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr.