In the last two years, Chris Temple became a star of the financial press, despite his neo-Nazi ties; he has now been indicted on federal charges of mail fraud and money laundering.
Things began looking up for Chris Temple in late 2001. Suddenly, after a November mention in a column on Forbes Newsletter Watch, the investment adviser who operates from a farm in Spooner, Wis., found himself regularly sought out for his prognostications by some of the leading organs of the U.S. financial press.
In the next two years, Temple's views on gold and other markets were prominently featured in Forbes' on-line publications. He was quoted by Barron's Online, CBS Marketwatch, Gold News Weekly and other financial commentators. Forbes.com even published an "Adviser " entitled "The Sage of Spooner."
But Temple's crowning glory may have come when his own financial newsletter, The National Investor, was added to those tracked by the respected Hulbert Financial Digest (HFD). HFD is probably the leading rater of market newsletters in the United States and tracks a selection of the best-rated newsletters' recommendations.
All of these financial experts apparently had overlooked a key fact: For almost 20 years, Temple, 42, has been a prominent member of the radical right.
He has worked for former Klan leader David Duke and Holocaust denier Willis Carto. He has marched alongside neo-Nazis and quoted Hitler approvingly in his writings. He is a close friend of Louis Beam, a former Texas Klan leader who was once on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. He has spoken at several gatherings of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations and written for or edited anti-Semitic publications.
He has even described himself, according to one watchdog group, as "very much a National Socialist."
That might be reason enough to leave the publications that have spotlighted Temple red-faced. But there is more.
On Sept. 17, a federal grand jury in Wisconsin indicted Christopher L. Temple on 67 counts of mail fraud and money laundering — charges that could bring him a maximum of 1,340 years in prison and perhaps $20 million in fines. Temple is charged with stealing $1.6 million from his clients.
From Whiz Kid to Jew-Hater
Raised in Binghamton, N.Y., Chris Temple boasts on his Web page (nationalinvestor.com) that he was recruited by a local financial planning firm shortly after leaving high school.
At the age of 18, he was licensed to work in the New York insurance industry; just a few months later, he was licensed to market investment securities through his firm. Within two years, at age 20, Temple became a firm principal and took over its brokerage arm, according to his account.
In the following years, Temple realized that he was "woefully untrained" in truly understanding the markets. But he persevered, he says, until he did.
The result, Temple says on his Web page now, is that he is "perhaps the most accurate market commentator among today's newsletter writers and investment advisers," a man who many call "the most knowledgeable analyst on the gold market ANYWHERE."
That may be. But what is certain is that as Temple learned the financial ropes, he was also heading down a highly unusual ideological path. That seems to have begun innocuously enough, with Temple becoming involved in a mid-1980s battle against low-level radioactive waste dumpsites in upstate New York.
After about two years, he started to argue that the federal government had no authority to order the state of New York to accept the dumps — an argument based on the 10th Amendment to the Constitution that has since been adopted by many right-wing theorists.
At the same time, Temple was already reading The Spotlight, a poorly produced tabloid that contained a bizarre mix of anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories, dubious medical advice and products, and a heavy dose of extreme-right economic theories, with their customary emphasis on gold.
In the latter part of the 1980s, Temple took an interest in the Populist Party, a radical-right organization started in 1983 by Willis Carto, who was also the force behind The Spotlight.
According to a letter he wrote that has been posted on the Internet, Temple was "ballot access coordinator" for New York in 1988, when David Duke ran for president on the party's ticket, winning fewer than 50,000 votes.
The Identity Connection
Temple was also a radical "Christian" who got into a running battle with local officials in McGraw, N.Y., over home schooling. (Educating children, he says, is "totally outside the jurisdiction of civil authority.")
Although Temple does not detail the battle, he has written that he and his family were "on the run" from local sheriff's deputies and decided, in 1990, to move away to Montana. At the time, Temple was already producing his first financial newsletter, Your Money Today.
He was also buddying up to open neo-Nazis — and adopting tenets of one of the most radical and anti-Semitic theologies known. In October 1989, Temple was photographed marching with members of the Aryan Nations in Pulaski, Tenn. And by May 1990, he was writing for a newspaper called The Jubilee.
Both Aryan Nations and Jubilee are proponents of Christian Identity, a theology that says whites are the real Hebrews of the Bible, Jews are biologically descended from Satan and blacks are soulless "mud people" created outside of the Garden of Eden.
Living in Montana, not far from a concentration of white supremacists who lived around the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho, Temple seemed to plunge into the movement with abandon.
He co-founded the United Citizens for Justice, a radical group formed as a result of a standoff between white supremacist Randy Weaver and the federal government. He was a speaker at a key 1992 meeting of radical-right leaders in Estes Park, Colo., which many believe helped to kick off the modern militia movement.
He attended a number of Christian Identity events and gave speeches at a series of the Aryan Nations' annual congresses in Idaho.
And he wrote for The Spotlight, becoming the newspaper's financial writer in the mid-1990s. According to Temple, he and Carto formed a partnership where his newsletter — now renamed The National Investor — would be half-owned by Carto and would receive promotions in The Spotlight in return.
That arrangement fell apart after Temple accused Carto of draining $70,000 from their newsletter operation, but Temple did not definitively break with Carto and The Spotlight until 1999.
Temple wrote scores of articles for The Jubilee and The Spotlight during the late 1980s and the 1990s. A few had plainly political themes, discussing the Randy Weaver case, the standoff in Waco between cultists and the federal government, the Montana Freemen, and various episodes from his own past.
In one piece, an explicit attack on universal suffrage and democracy, Temple quotes Hitler for an entire six paragraphs, saying the führer's words were simply "too eloquent to ignore."
But the vast majority of Temple's writing is financial. He wrote on the stock market, gold, interest rates and any number of other financial matters — typically without resorting to conspiracy theories about Jews and other enemies.
Even as the pages of The Spotlight hyped the alleged threat from a computer crash at the start of the new millennium, Temple avoided that kind of Y2K fear-mongering, dispensing reasonably sound advice to his readers.
He often focused on gold — with its special appeal to radical rightists who believe that only gold, unlike money, has intrinsic value — but he did not only promote its purchase. Often, he suggested selling.
The pages of his National Investor were even more sober and well written. Indeed, Temple quoted from the United Nations, labor union studies, and even Jewish financial officials like Alan Greenspan as a matter of course — an unexpected approach from a man with a dense network of ties to the neo-Nazi right.
He did talk about a "conspiracy" in the gold market, and he was critical of globalization, but in terms that appeared quite similar to those used by many other commentators.
But he remained highly active in his political life, too. He began attending meetings of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist hate group, in the late 1990s, and soon became managing editor of its tabloid, Citizens Informer. In December 1999, after the break with Carto, Temple became co-editor with white nationalist writer Sam Francis, who would take over as the sole editor in 2000.
In 2002, Temple joined with an old colleague and co-religionist, Jubilee Managing Editor Paul Hall, to purchase a magazine called Media Bypass.
Media Bypass had been an enthusiastic supporter of the antigovernment militia movement, but almost immediately after its acquisition by Hall and Temple, it began to take on a starkly anti-Semitic tone.
In recent months, it has published stories by radicals like neo-Nazi Kevin Alfred Strom, who wrote about how the results of "racial mixing" are "poverty, filth, social conflict and political malaise." Last May, a Media Bypass conference hosted by Hall and Temple featured several key anti-Semites.
Behind the Curtain
In early 2001, a trickle of complaints began to come in to Wisconsin state financial authorities. Several of Temple's customers, prosecutors say, told officials that Temple was refusing to repay them money they had invested in his three firms, Phoenix Financial Services, Phoenix-Millennium Partners I, and New Millennium Partners, which Temple had described as legitimate investment partnerships.
"An investigator goes to talk to him and, surprise, surprise, he lies to them," John Vaudreuil, the assistant U.S. attorney who is prosecuting Temple, told the Intelligence Report.
"He says, 'The money I get, I invest in the stock market. You know, I'm at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. I make stock trades through an account there.' When they called him on that because it didn't appear to be the case, he said, 'Oh, I moved it to Ameritrade.' After a couple of interviews, a state of Wisconsin investigator did not think things looked right ... and he brought it to the FBI."
Ultimately, investigators determined Temple had allegedly swindled $1.6 million from investors between 1998 and 2003. The investors thought they had invested in funds that, on paper, were bringing in remarkable profits — some 24.9% in the six months ending in July 2003, for instance — despite a generally poor market.
Instead of investing that money, the indictment charges, Temple used it to pay for living expenses, publishing, and buying and remodeling his home. He also allegedly used some of it to pay off earlier investors in a classic Ponzi scheme.
The Report spoke to six of Temple's alleged victims. They say Temple sent detailed statements of their supposed accounts with him, and they sounded awfully good. He was also a gifted conversationalist, often dwelling on his wife Sue, their eight children, and the youth hockey games that he especially loved.
F. Hall Machon, a disabled and partially blind former firefighter in Massachussetts, said he first heard about Temple through his Spotlight articles. He would spend hours talking to Temple, he says, about their shared love of hockey. "He wrote terrific Christmas letters and talked about his children," Machon said.
Machon says he tracked Temple's stock picks for four years while working as a firefighter. The returns were so good that Machon ultimately took $12,000 from his retirement account to invest. When he asked for it back, Machon alleges, Temple demurred. "He's smart," Machon told the Report, "but he's just a crook."
Temple pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released pending trial on March 8. He was ordered not to contact any of his alleged victims and the court is now monitoring his financial transactions and business.
Life After Indictment
One of the more remarkable things about the entire Temple affair has been his fairly dramatic ascent in the financial press during virtually the same period that he is accused of having ripped off his investors.
After years of being mentioned in newspaper articles only because of his white supremacist activities, Temple was now appearing in a totally different light — as a legitimate financial expert.
What may have been the first mention of Temple in this new role came on Nov. 26, 2001, when Forbes writer Peter Brimelow discussed Temple's thoughts about the gold market. In a Feb. 8, 2002, article, Brimelow (see Keeping America White) mentioned that over the course of 2001, The National Investor's stock picks had earned 18.4% — as compared to an 11% loss for a major competing index.
After that, the mentions came more and more often, both from Brimelow, who later moved to CBS Marketwatch, and from several other financial commentators.
It's not publicly known if Brimelow and Temple are friends or even acquaintances. But they do share at least one major connection: Sam Francis, the editor of the white supremacist Citizens Informer who co-edited the tabloid with Temple during much of 1999 and 2000.
Brimelow, who in addition to his work as a financial commentator is a dedicated anti-immigration activist, features the work of Francis and several other radical ideologues on his V-DARE Web page.
The site's name is shorthand for Virginia Dare, said to be the first English child born in America. Brimelow argues that America is historically a predominantly white nation and that Americans have a right to demand that it remain that way.
His site includes links to such groups as the racist American Renaissance hate group and even carries essays by that group's editor and chief ideologue, Jared Taylor.
Remarkably, Temple's name did not disappear from several major financial advice columns after his indictment. At press time, CBS Marketwatch had quoted Temple at least three times in the six weeks following his Sept. 17 indictment. Two of those mentions, on Sept. 22 and 26, came in columns by Brimelow.
"You would think everything about [Temple] would make your suspicions go up," says Vaudreuil, who is chief of his office's criminal division. "But they didn't. Not only to the investors, but to a lot of very legitimate publications, too."