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Wealthy Backers of White Supremacists Raise Concerns in Idaho

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two former California businessmen are pouring cash into the relatively low-budget white supremacist movement, allowing it to reach out to thousands of households in northern Idaho.

Human-rights activists are alarmed at the infusion of money into the movement and say they are scrambling to fight back.

Vincent Bertollini and Carl Story of Sandpoint, who grew wealthy in California’s computer industry, financed the mailing of racist and anti-Semitic posters and videos to about 3,000 homes in September. Bertollini and Story have adamantly refused interviews.

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“Our message speaks for itself,” Bertollini wrote in an e-mail response to an interview request. “We do not grant interviews.”

Their message is a vitriolic stew of quasi-biblical prose that attacks Jews and contends that “Jesus said they were murderers and liars from the beginning.”

According to the poster sent by the pair, nonwhites are the product of sexual relations between Eve and Satan, which begat Cain, “a hybrid, mongrel, bastard and soul-less child.”

Calling themselves The 11th Hour Remnant Messenger, the two men paid to create and mail the 6-foot-long, glossy-paper poster with colorful artwork that purports to show “The Adamic Race Pure Blood Seedline.”

It is the quality of the posters, as much as the message, that has raised alarm among human rights groups. The posters cost a reported $9.45 each to print and mail.

“The difference is, they’ve got money,” said Bill Wassmuth, director of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment. “That enables them to extend their message on a broader range.”

Northern Idaho has long been home to white supremacist groups, including the Aryan Nations of Hayden. The region also was home to Randy Weaver, and the Militia of Montana is based just a few miles away in Noxon, Mont.

The Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, Ala., which monitors hate groups nationwide, was caught by surprise by the mailings, said researcher Mark Potok. They had never heard of the two men.

“The problem of the white supremacist movement for decades has been financing,” Potok said. It took Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh half a year to raise the $10,000 to buy the materials for that bomb.

The emergence of Bertollini and Story, and their money, is “terribly important,” Potok said.

Despite refusing to speak to the press, the two men have hardly kept a low profile in this lakeside tourist town of 5,200 people.

They occupy large homes in posh neighborhoods and are known for leaving $100 tips to waitresses. Bertollini recently served a 10-day jail sentence for drunken driving.

Bertollini has performed at least one wedding in Bonner County as a lay minister for the Remnant Messenger, public records show.

Bertollini also was a surprise visitor at a recent human rights rally in Sandpoint, which was called to discuss the mailings.

“Is there anything in our literature that says anything about hate?” Bertollini told the crowd, according to the Spokesman-Review newspaper of Spokane, Wash. “No. It just says we white people are different.”

“Our intent is to bring truth to a world that believes a lie. It’s a burden, a burden on my heart, and it’s Carl Story’s burden too,” said Bertollini, who arrived with Aryan Nations found1701978114Richard Butler.

Bertollini told the newspaper that the Remnant Messenger had spent $1.5 million in the last eight years on Christian Identity causes.

Christian Identity is a white supremacist religion that holds that white people are the true Israelites, descendants of Abel. Christian Identity adherents believe nonwhites and Jews are inferior to whites.

The Remnant Messenger also paid for the recent production and mailing of a video to Sandpoint homes showing Butler explaining his views.

Butler called Bertollini and Story “Christian gentlemen” he has known for several years.

“I think they’re doing good,” Butler said.

The Aryan Nations handed out copies of the poster during their parade last summer through downtown Coeur d’Alene. Thousands of copies were mailed to people on the Aryan Nations’ mailing list.

Bertollini, 59, and Story, 65, have lived quietly in the Sandpoint area for several years.

“I don’t know why they’re starting to become more vocal,” said Gretchen Albrecht-Hellar, leader of the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force.

The task force, which charges just $1 for lifetime dues, cannot compete with the men’s money, she said.

The Rev. Paul Graves, a Sandpoint city councilman, is organizing a January protest by area ministers.

“They’re a flat-out distortion of scriptural record,” Graves said of the two men. “They totally distort Christianity.”

The City Council also has condemned the mailings, he said.

Story and Bertollini have been friends for 30 years and formed the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger in 1990 when they still lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Spokesman-Review reported.

During their business careers, the two men used their engineering and marketing skills to build two computer chip companies into multimillion-dollar concerns, the newspaper said.

Story and a business partner were convicted in 1979 of shipping $299,970 worth of computer chip-handling equipment to the Soviet Union. Authorities believe the gear was used to develop Soviet missile-guidance systems during the Cold War.

In a plea bargain, Story avoided federal prison but paid a $25,000 fine and was placed on three years’ probation, court records show.

The pair left California in 1995 and decided to move to northern Idaho after spending six months touring the United States, the newspaper said.

Albrecht-Hellar worries that the concentration of white supremacists is serving as a magnet for others of like minds.

Bertollini told the newspaper that nonwhites “have a special place on this planet.” But “they don’t have to deal with the law and redemption and the power of Jesus Christ.”

“We don’t hate them. God, we’re blessed that they’re here. They don’t have to deal with what we have to deal with. They don’t have the responsibility that we have.”

White people, he said, “are caretakers of the world.”

“Don’t you see that? Isn’t that simple? Isn’t it obvious?” he told the newspaper.

Bertollini said there’s more to come. “I’m on a mission from God, and it will not end until my last breath is gone.”


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