March 31, 2006

Well, Isn’t That Something: An MSM Blog Notes Bob McEwen’s Amway/Quixtar Affiliation. More People Need To.

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,OH-02 US House — Tom @ 12:41 pm

NOTE: This post will stay at the top for the remainder of Friday because of the importance of what it covers.

Who says there isn’t such a thing as serendipitous timing?

Having regained my voice, so to speak, because of the results of the matter discussed at this post, to comment on Second Congressional District happenings, particularly as they relate to the non-incumbents in the race (the situation with the incumbent is being “covered” and then some by more than a few others, and there are only so many hours in a day), I was all ready to dig in ….. when Stephen Koff at The Plain Dealer did a fair amount of it for me:

Now let’s get out there and sell — er, vote!

He’s quite an inspiration, that Bob McEwen. Not only is he a former Republican congressman, a government affairs adviser for a law firm and a current thorn in the side of Cincinnati’s Jean Schmidt, whom he hopes to beat in the congressional primary on May 2.

He also fires up the troops at Amway, a Michigan-based multilevel marketing company whose leaders, from the DeVos family, are major conservative political donors. McEwen has given inspirational and political talks to Amway distributors and written in Amway publications, according to web sites and blog postings cited by Schmidt supporters and others.

A McEwen spokesman has heard this, too, but says he has no other information. Critics aren’t satisfied with that answer, saying voters should know just how closely McEwen is linked to the powerful Amway army.

But McEwen’s audience goes beyond Amway. McEwen sells his own line of motivational products through the Internet. (Check them out here.)

There’s his two-DVD set on free enterprise, a single DVD on “God’s Plan of Salvation,” CDs on love, relationships, freedom and overcoming the “chokepoints” to success. McEwen even offers a companion book ($12) to go with a DVD/CD set ($25) that promises to tell you “everything you always wished you understood about politics, presented in a simple, logical manner showing timeless principles that can transfer to any election.” The name of the latter: “Politics: Easy as Pie.”

Let’s start by making sure everyone understands that “Amway” in the US is “Quixtar.” The company has been downplaying the Amway name in the US for many years because it had, and still has, a negative connotation with much of the general public, and not because there has been any fundamental change in the way the company has been doing business, except to adapt to the advent of e-commerce. This contention is not in meaningful dispute, whether you are an Amway “Independent Business Owner” (IBO), who is typically told to avoid telling new recruits about Amway’s relationship with Quixtar in the initial stages of recruiting, or a detractor. From this point on, I will be referring to the company as Amway/Quixtar or AQ.

Cutting to the chase: At one “extreme,” AQ believes it is the ultimate business that enables individuals and families to achieve the American Dream. At the other “extreme,” many former IBOs, people who have studied the business, consumer groups, and some current and former law-enforcement officials believe AQ is the most “successful” and technically illegal pyramid scheme in human history, enriching a very few and leaving the vast majority of its participants at best no better off, and at worst in impoverished delusion, chasing a dream that, because of how the AQ organization is formally and informally designed, will almost never come true.

What has always aggravated me about Bob McEwen’s association with AQ is this: He won’t talk about it. That posture continues. AQ is nowhere to be seen at his web site bio, though it could be his largest source of income (especially if you consider the money he receives from speaking at AQ events and selling tapes and CDs to AQ IBOs, as opposed to selling the AQ products themselves, as “AQ income”), and may be a major consumer of his time. He apparently doesn’t tell his closest publicly visible advisers much about it (from the blog entry: “A McEwen spokesman has heard this, too, but says he has no other information.”). Wouldn’t you think that an organization you have been affiliated with for perhaps 15 and maybe more years would be something to be proud of, and something to point to as a positive aspect of your life? Especially when you were living over 500 miles away from the District’s voters for 12 years, only to return about a year ago, wouldn’t your success with AQ be something you would WANT to talk about it?

Why, in the 2005 primary campaign, did the subject of AQ have to be brought up by one lowly blogger who happened to stumble onto Mr. McEwen’s involvement with the company in Google searches mere days before the election? Is Mr. McEwen ashamed of the affiliation? Is he afraid he’ll have to defend the business model and can’t? Has he been told by AQ higher-ups, many of whom he knows on a personal basis, to stay mum? Exactly what are we to think here?

I encourage you to go to last year’s BizzyBlog posts on AQ. Perhaps you can come up with reasons yourself as to why Mr. McEwen did not talk about AQ during last year’s campaign, and as far as I know has yet to talk about it so far in this one:

  • June 12, 2005 – Those “Self-Employed” Contributors
  • June 12 — The Amway-Quixtar (AQ) Business
  • June 13 — The McEwens and Amway Quixtar (AQ)
  • June 14 — A Question for Procter & Gamble Employees, Their Families, and P&G Shareholders

Please understand this: I have made every effort to be fair to AQ, its detractors, and Mr. McEwen, and to keep my personal opinions out of it. If it appears otherwise, please remember that one “side” is not talking. I am not in a position to say whether or not Mr. McEwen has personally done anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. But I will NOT ignore what is out there that is either demonstrably true, or that can reasonably be conjectured (when labeled as such).

I want to know why I had to be the first person to inform (some of) the Second District’s voters about the very existence of an integral aspect of Bob McEwen’s life resume last year (a resume voters who were considering hiring him to serve them in Washington deserved to receive in full detail — and still do), and why someone else besides Mr. McEwen had to pick up the AQ disclosure ball and run with it this year.

There is, as you might expect, more to come. I can’t imagine why anyone carefully considering who to vote for on May 2 would not consider the questions being raised here and at previous posts, and the persistent refusal by Mr. McEwen to address them, important.

UPDATE: All of this has interesting potential parallels to the full-disclosure issues swirling around US Senate candidate David Smith during the past few weeks. Once inconsistencies, and worse, between Mr. Smith’s statements in various venues and information in his vague bio at his campaign web site and publicly available information became known, Mr. Smith attempted to head off the problem by posting something much closer to a resume. It turns out that Mr. Smith’s attempt at full disclosure has only compounded his problems. As Mr. Smith’s credibility has gone into free-fall, one has to wonder: What would full disclosure, if it were ever to occur, about AQ and several other matters I will cover in the coming weeks, do to Bob McEwen’s?

UPDATE 2: On the apparently safe assumption that the only ways to learn more about Mr. McEwen’s AQ involvement will be through independent research and reports from others, I am encouraging anyone who wishes to communicate their direct experience with Bob McEwen at AQ, preferably including audiovisual or other material relating to his presentations at AQ rallies, seminars, breakout sessions, and/or individual meetings, or with Mr. McEwen as a known attendee while AQ leaders are making other presentations, to contact me. I will assume you wish to be anonymous unless you say otherwise, but you will need to leave a valid e-mail address, and I will need to know who you are even if the rest of the world doesn’t.

I will only accept trackback comments (moderated) at this post, though personal e-mails are welcome.


1 Comment

  1. [...] for the GOP candidate, associated with r-rated gutter politics, and aligned himself with a scamway hustler. Way to go Tom! Really. well done. And just what did all that selling out get for ya? Fil [...]

    Pingback by » Schmidt-McEwen Recap — May 5, 2006 @ 2:17 am

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