National Alliance Loses Key Leaders
The National Alliance, for decades the powerhouse of the neo-Nazi radical right, is on the ropes. It has lost almost all of its key leaders, most of its income and its prestige. Its chairman recently stepped down under fire. And, with a hemorrhage of followers flowing into other groups, the Alliance's dues-paying membership has plunged to under 200 people, less than a seventh its size just three years ago.
The rapid-fire developments this spring came after almost three years of worsening political chaos unleashed by the unexpected July 2002 death of Alliance founder William Pierce. A series of embarrassing revelations, highlighted by the marriage of Chairman Erich Gliebe to a former stripper, has reduced the once-proud group to a menagerie of squabbling gossips desperate to hold onto power.
"The revolt against misrule by two people at the top that began when David Pringle resigned in protest as our Membership Coordinator in August of 2004 has now expanded to what must be over 90% of us," Jamie Kelso, an ex-member well-connected to other radical leaders, wrote in a late April Internet essay.
Gliebe, a former boxer who replaced Pierce after the founder's death, was already widely disliked at the time of Pringle's resignation. He had managed to alienate constantly increasing numbers of Alliance members, invited strippers to pose for an Alliance calendar and to attend a semi-annual "leadership conference," earned enmity by paying himself far more money than other staffers, and won a reputation for lying to his followers and wrecking the group's formerly successful businesses.
It didn't help that Pringle was popular in many quarters, or that he released an essay entitled "Demand an Audit" after his departure that detailed money wasted by Gliebe and Shaun Walker, the Alliance's chief operating officer, in a series of failed business ventures. "The days of Erich Josef Gliebe telling people to 'keep quiet' about internal problems because 'our enemies' might exploit the situation are over," Pringle wrote. "In the last year, 'our enemies' have not made disastrous decisions that have cost us most of our cash savings. Our leaders have. Our enemies have not caused us to lose more than half of our rank-and-file membership and almost two thirds of our organizational revenue in the last year. Our leaders have."
The 'Dues Brothers'
Late in the year, attempting to stop what threatened to become a mass exodus, Gliebe and Walker set up an executive committee composed of Alliance officials — Kevin Strom, Rich Lindstrom, Charles Ellis, Robert Pate and Roger Williams — in a bid to give the group a more democratic look. But, as Gliebe explained months later, it had only advisory powers. It did almost nothing to stem mounting criticism. On one Web forum after another (see list), Gliebe and Walker were pilloried as self-interested money-grubbers — the "Dues Brothers" of the neo-Nazi right.
Things got worse. In November, most of the North Carolina contingent quit, lamenting that the state had once been among the Alliance's strongest units. In early December, the coordinator of a Washington state unit left, saying he could no longer work under the current "unethical" leadership. A month later, the coordinator of a Tennessee unit departed, too, writing that he had "lost faith" in the Alliance.
In New Jersey, Gliebe was met with a nearly open revolt when he went to address a local unit and was peppered with questions about his then-girlfriend, ex-Playboy model and lap dancer Erika Snyder, and "moral character." Member Robert Minnerly, who initiated the confrontation, was expelled afterward. Not long after that, well-known New Jersey member Hal Turner wrote an essay entitled, "Knowing When it is Time to Step Down." He was ejected from the group within days.
Through it all, as the situation threatened to turn into a full-scale revolt, Kevin Alfred Strom, the group's house "intellectual" and host of its "American Dissident Voices" radio program since Pierce's death, kept quiet. Seen as a reliable Gliebe stalwart, he didn't speak up when his pay was docked for being late on deadlines for several Alliance publications he was supposed to edit. Then came April.