After Chester Doles, Georgia National Alliance leader, pleads guilty to illegal weapons possession, supporters wonder what happened to the donations made to help him fight the charge.
When Georgia's fiery National Alliance leader, Chester Doles, was arrested for illegal weapons possession last March, some leaders of the fractured white supremacist movement saw a golden opportunity to promote solidarity in the ranks. But they only ended up with another dose of divisiveness.
Alex Linder, an Alliance member who then operated his own personal Vanguard News Network (VNN) Web site, began a fundraising campaign to "free Chester Doles" after Doles' wife, Teresa, turned up on a National Alliance radio show saying she needed $65,000 to hire former Republican Congressman Bob Barr's law firm to represent her husband.
"If the supposedly concerned people who like spreading division are seriously concerned with Chester, we'll see their financial donations pour in and their solidarity work getting results," said the show's host, Kevin Strom, a principal Alliance leader.
Linder took up the challenge, ultimately managing to raise nearly $80,000 through his site — a development that was severely embarrassing to Strom and other Alliance leaders because the Alliance itself raised almost nothing for its Georgia leader.
Linder's site portrayed Doles — a former Klan leader who has been arrested for assault a dozen times, once nearly beating a black man to death — as a dedicated family man whose 11 children needed him, and claimed the federal charges were politically motivated and mistaken.
Though some members objected online that Doles had "landed himself straight into these messes," Linder's fundraising campaign seemed like a welcome success for the chronically troubled movement. But then, in January, Doles pleaded guilty — and left many members wondering aloud where their donations went.
"We expected Chester to fight" a man calling himself "Rev. Patrick" wrote amid a swirl of controversy on VNN's discussion forum. "He didn't, he caved in."
Meanwhile, "Rev. Patrick" charged, Doles' wife Teresa "got a cash cow" while donors got "suckered." So much for movement solidarity.