The letter that AvWeb.com should have printed
Fun report AVweb printed a story about Jim Campbell's being
from Sun 'n Fun, and about Campbell's press conference.
As well as a few factual errors in the report, it seemed to actually support Campbell. To many it appeared that the AVweb reporters had simply written the story as told to them by Jim Campbell. Apparently the AVweb reporters didn't even check the Press Release by Sun 'n Fun or the newspaper stories reporting the Federal Court decision that upheld the right of the event to ban a person for disruptive behavior.
Many AVweb readers wrote letters of complaint and explanation to AvWeb. Only two were printed -- those from John Ousterhout and Ron Wanttaja.
Here are two by Attorney -- and veteran ZoomWatcher -- Tony Pucillo that weren't printed, perhaps due to the length.
April 19, 1999
Re: Your endorsement of Jim Campbell
Sure, every body is entitled to an opinion, no matter how dumb. I just expect better from AvWeb, especially after your faux pas in appearing to aggrandize Jim Campbell by calling him a "guru" previously -- one you retreated from by asserting that it implied a bit of goofiness as well. With what you surely must know about Mr. Campbell by now, I would have expected you to scrutinize ANYTHING coming out of Winter Haven carefully. As ethical journalists, some research into the facts behind a dispute was mandatory before buying this man’s rhetoric appearing foolish.
Or are you just reacting negatively to the fact that Sun & Fun had the good sense to follow its lawyers’ advice and not to comment on a matter in litigation and which has been the source of repeated threats of suit for years? They were hardly the only source of relevant information. There are literally hundreds of people who could have commented on his behavior at Sun & Fun events, and much of it is public record including police files.
Supporting Mr. Campbell in his dispute with Sun & Fun without researching the facts was pretty damned irresponsible either way. I just returned from that event -- one that is the product of the sweat of many hundreds of aviators and volunteers -- and I consider Mr. Campbell’s viciousness a slap in the face to all of them and to the legitimate press.
I understand you’ve come out solidly behind Campbell’s "First Amendment" stance on his repeated, and now continuing, ejection from Sun & Fun. Thus you could only have accepted his claim that he was ejected due to his views, his claim that the law supports his entitlement to access, and HIS version of the facts surrounding his ejection. Did you bother to do even the SLIGHTEST research on the law or facts before issuing this silly declaration? Did you inquire of any of the victims of witnesses to his outrageous behavior on Sun & Fun grounds, toward Sun & Fun participants, and his repeated violations of rules, policies, common sense and fundamental honesty? Have you even read the police reports from 1998 or 1994? Have you investigated his previous agreements not to further disrupt the proceedings?
If I seem upset about this, frankly I am. While I respect your coverage generally, seeing you not once but repeatedly display such superficiality regarding a topic of this importance is infuriating. Mr. Campbell is not just a trivial annoyance. He is not a representative member of the press nor an asset to aviation. He is a major threat to experimental aviation and will continue to be for as long as manufacturers new and old live in terror of his wrath and fear inciting him by cancelling or refusing ads, or otherwise evoking a campaign of destructive publicity such those he’s obsessively aimed at others. You’ve seen them, and you’ve seen the level to which he will sink in distorting facts and seeking the economic destruction of enemies.
Have you made no effort at all to investigate the experiences and perceptions of the industry toward him? Have you asked his current and past advertisers about their experiences, or tried to learn whether they subscribe out of fear rather than normal advertising concerns?
Since I can only assume you are unaware of both the pertinent facts and law, let me make it as easy as possible:
|1.||Mr. Campbell’s posture that there is a First
here is utterly fraudulent. There is not a SHRED of factual support for
his claim that he was excluded from Sun & Fun due to his
commentary. He has repeatedly been ejected in the past for his abrasive
and belligerent behavior toward other exhibitors and guests. Indeed, he
was formally notified a year ago -- on April 24, 1998 -- that he was
unwelcome at future events. Any supposed "negative" commentary, if any,
occurred thereafter. Mr. Campbell made a feeble effort to create the
appearance of some "retaliation issue by sending an inflammatory letter
to Sun & Fun two months later (June ’98). Then he
literally the last minute to declare an "emergency" and file a
frivolous suit. Even his own testimony there undermines his claim; note
his focus on his resulting inability sell advertising to justify the
need for his personal attendance (do you also consider Sun &
unentitled to exclude an EXHIBITOR? Is THIS a First Amendment issue
|2.||Mr. Campbell’s behavior as a businessman and
have been indefensible, as you should well know. More particularly,
there were several specific events in 1998 that violated both Sun
Fun policies and his previous agreements regarding conduct on-site. For
example, for several consecutive years he counterfeited Press parking
credentials; he had people as diverse as his lawyer and process server
(on site in relation to a private suit he intended to serve and
publicize) running around with press credentials; had a public flap
with an employee of his that resulted in numerous complaints and her
filing a "stalking" report against him; attempted to use the Sun
Fun events to obtain "ambush" process service on exhibitors and
volunteers; and even had a process server delivering papers to an
airshow announcer while he was on-duty despite being expressly ordered
When finally escorted out as a result of the totality of this behavior, he threw a temper tantrum, screaming obscenities at the officers ("F**king Neo-Nazis" was the term quoted in the police report) and further disrupted the event. (Then he belatedly claimed he’d been previously injured by a golf cart; don’t you think repeated threats of frivolous suits are enough, by themselves, to merit exclusion of an individual from the operation of an event?)
|3.||In 1994, he was ejected twice. AFTER being ejected, he
claimed he was struck by a Sun & Fun tram. Then upon
he engaged in confrontations with exhibitors critical of him, even
taping one of them without notice contrary to Florida law. He was
thrown out again as a result of that scuffle. Numerous other incidents
occurred over the years, including a highly-public flap with his
ex-fiance and other exhibitors, and his nonpayment of thousands of
dollars to a charity for a year under a catering contract. Annually he
demanded to hold a party, and insisted - complete with legal threats -
upon special treatment regarding catering policies. In '98,
he was evicted and afterward, filed a police report claiming that the
preceding DAY he had been run over with a golf cart. He has received
countless warnings, and the Sun & Fun files are filled with
complaints by others he has engaged in various hassles with.
Sun & Fun has repeatedly been encouraged by disgruntled exhibitors and attendees to control this man or exclude him, yet has repeatedly permitted him access anyway. This year, the organization received a huge number of calls and messages of support for its decision to stand firm and refuse Campbell admission. Even this year, they permitted "his" magazine access using any other bona fide reporter or writer of his choice. Sun & Fun has been incredibly lenient; in past years, he's even been permitted (over strident objection by others) to attend and sell magazines and books even while he was six months in arrears in delivering magazines, nearly a year late in delivering a book he'd received prepayment on ads for, and was selling other books he still hasn't delivered two years later. (Yes, he attended in '97, sold books and subscriptions, then dumped his company in bankruptcy before delivering a single issue to subscribers.)
|4.||As far as the LAW is concerned, the matter couldn't be
clearer. First of all, there IS no First Amendment issue here. This is
Mr. Campbell's grandiose attempt to elevate an ejection for his
dishonesty and rotten behavior into an unselfish issue of principle on
his part - typical of his history of narcissism. There simply is no
legal right of access to property operated by a nongovernment entity.
Constitutional protections apply only to government action, state,
federal or local. The First applies only where a governmental entity
denies news access arbitrarily - without cause -- to a particular
journalist; when it prevents access to public property held open to
other journalists. Newsgathering is not granted a general right of
access. Mr. Campbell apparently makes some claim that Sun & Fun
a government entity, merely because it has at some time received a
small amount of public funds as an enterprise money years ago as an
enterprise contributing to local enterprise generating local commerce.
Such receipt no more makes Sun & Fun a government entity for
Constitutional purposes than would an SBA loan to a private business, a
tax credit to a manufacturing company for urban renewal, or an
interest-free school loan to a physician. Do you believe a reporter has
the right to demand access to their places of business too?
In fact, receipt of such funds in NO way renders any such entity a public one. The test is one of "state action" under the Fourteenth Amendment - whether the entity actually IS a government agency, fulfilling a governmental function -- and so long as the premises are leased, owned or otherwise within the control of a private company there is absolute discretion regarding ejection. Operating an admission-charged airshow is not a government service, Sun&Fun EAA Fly-In, Inc. is not a public corporation and that private entity is in sole control of the pertinent premises and admission to them (as the ticket and admission contract have always demonstrated).
In addition to the factual frivolity of Mr. Campbell's claims, and the non-public nature of the event property owner, Mr. Campbell's claim would be without merit even WERE this a public entity. Even public entities may exclude journalists, who have no greater right of access than does the public generally. Even true governmental entities may freely exclude particular journalists based on their personal record of past behavior. The denial of press passes by public entities as diverse as the White House and major metropolitan police on any nonarbitrary basis has been upheld (including things like criminal records, assaults and unbalanced behavior, etc.)
Similarly, it doesn't even matter if the property is owned by a government agency; operators of premises leased from public entities have repeatedly been held to have absolute discretion to exclude - even when First Amendment expression (which receives far greater protection) is in issue.
|I’m attaching some legal source materials for
consideration. They are by no means exhaustive, but ought to serve to
demonstrate that the legal claims are frivolous. I hope that after
considering them, and the other attachments, you will be better
informed. I am also attaching excerpts from a couple of letters I sent
to Sun & Fun and another individual regarding the
Campbell/Sun&Fun history. They explain both his record of
disruption and my own recent interest in his activities (you do not
have my permission to furnish them to others without further request,
though I will substantiate any of their assertions to you upon request
and you may use the information as you wish).
As far as the factual premises of your position are concerned, please do not simply retreat to some lame position that you support Campbell "if" he was arbitrarily ejected solely due to his opinions and commentary. You have taken a position that lends credence to his factual assertions, is an insult to the volunteers and other exhibitors of Sun&fun, and needs to be revised. If you believe that a disruptive, belligerent, possibly mentally unbalanced individual may not be excluded from a fly-in event regardless of his behavior or his disregard of rules or policies, simply because he clothes himself in the guise of a "journalist", then please say so. I have never heard a member of the legitimate press take such a position yet. I would respect that more than journalistic pablum based on "what ifs" that you know are false.
Issue: scope of discretion possessed by an event operator (nongovernmental entity may even use denial of access selectively to censor press) [even content-based exclusion would be legally permissible!]
Source: http://www.fac.org/legal/fawatch/VOL2NO3.htm [First Amendment Watch Web Page]
1. NCCA Threatens to Deny Press Credentials to Reporters with Newspapers that Run Gambling Ads
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) officials are considering denying press access to the college basketball championships to those newspapers that publish gambling advertisements. The issue arose in December when the NCAA sent a letter to several newspapers threatening to withhold press credentials unless the papers stop "publishing advertisements that are designed to encourage gambling on college sports."
Vincent Blasi, a professor at Columbia Law School, said that the First Amendment protects a newspaper's right to print material but does not guarantee reporters a right to attend an event with press credentials.
Source: The New York Times, 1/15/97, A7
If the NCAA acts on its earlier threats, the newspapers likely could not assert a First Amendment right to obtain press credentials to the basketball championships, according to Doug Lee, an Illinois media attorney. First Amendment expert Tom McCoy, a Vanderbilt law professor, explains that "The First Amendment only protects free speech from government entities."
Nearly all constitutional rights, including First Amendment rights, are protected only from interference by government entities or officials. The First Amendment reads "Congress shall make no law ... ." The First Amendment extends beyond Congress to all federal and state entities and officials, but does not prohibit intereferences by private persons or organizations. The so-called state action doctrine requires some sort of participation by the government in order to find a violation of constitutional rights. In National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Tarkanian, 488 U.S. 179 (1988), the United States Supreme Court held that the NCAA, a private association, was not a governmental entity for purposes of basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian's civil rights lawsuit.
[end quote from First Amendment Watch Web Page]
Issue: The First Amendment has no application to private operators, including those who lease city-owned sites for events open to ticket-buying public.
CARLSON, Jr. v. CITY OF TALLAHASSEE, 240 So. 2d 866, (FL 1st D.C.A. 1970); (leased stadium)
GLASER v. CITY OF SAN DIEGO, No. 96-55640, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT, 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 5892, March 24, 1997 (government is not operator when stadium leased to sports team, and no state action, thus no constitutional/civil rights violation possible)
Compare, JAMES, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF LONG BEACH, 18 F. Supp. 2d 1078 (C.D. Cal 1998) (Ejection from city-owned stadium is permissible notwithstanding claim of First Amendment expression claim)
See also (Lease of public stadium-private entity) Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. v. Traveler's Insurance Co., 18 F.Supp. 81 (D.Conn. 1981); D'Amario v. Providence Civic Center Authority, 783 F.2d 1 (1st Cir.) (rev'd and remanded), 639 F.Supp. 1538 (D.R.I. 1986) (complaint dismissed)
Issue: The press has no greater right of access to privately OR publicly-owned property than others, even where newsworthy events occurring
State (New Mexico) v. McCormack, 674 P.2d 1117 (N.M.1984) (Environmental activists arrested for trespass to government-owned land, press along with them, convictions upheld by State Supreme Court over First Amendment claims)
Prahl v. Brosamle et al , 98 Wis. 2d 130, *; 295 N.W.2d 768, (Wis. App. 1980) (News media entry to private grounds to cover police activity, without owner’s consent) (numerous others)
[Access for other First Amendment reasons also may be restricted]
Adderley v. Florida 385 U.S. 39; 87 S. Ct. 242 (1966) No First Amendment right of access to public property not regularly used as a forum for expression. Minn v. Iskcon 452 U.S. 640 (1981); Iskcon v. New York Giants, 691 F.2d 155 (3rd Cir. 1982) Even governmentally -operated facilities may exclude or limit protected speech (Krishnas access limited)
Issue: Even government agencies are not required to grant equal access to news to all media and may deny press passes on nonarbitrary basis
Sherrill v. Knight, 186 U.S. App. D.C. 293, 569 F.2d 124, 129 (D.C. Cir. 1977) Press pass denial by government agency permissible based upon personal history, as long as policy enunciated.
SNYDER v. RINGGOLD, No. 97-1358 U.S.Ct. App. 4th Cir., 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 562; 26 Media There is no recognized right of equal or nondiscriminatory access by every media representative -- City agency limiting access of a reporter based on past experiences not actionable.
WATSON V. CRONIN 384 F. Supp. 652 (D. Colo. 1974) Denial of press pass to particular journalist on a nonarbitrary basis by city permissible. (Criminal record)
Cf. LOS ANGELES FREE PRESS, INC. v. CITY OF LOS ANGELES, 9 Cal. App. 3d 448 (2d D. Ct. App. Cal 1970) Government entity may consider whether good faith news coverage intent exists.
Issue: Relevance of receipt of public funds to the issue of "public entity"
News and Sun-Sentinel Company v. Schwab, Twitty & Hanser Architectural Group, Inc.,596 So. 2d 1029 (Fla. 1992); News-Journal Corporation v. Memorial Hospital-West Volusia, Inc., 695 So. 2d 418 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997), aff. with opinion, 1999 Fla. LEXIS 48, 24 Fla. L. Weekly S52, 24 Fla. L. Weekly S 52, 27 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 1353 (Fla. Jan. 21, 1999); FL OAG Op.No. 98-21, 3/19/98 (1998 Fla. AG LEXIS 13)
[Receipt of public funds does not make an entity legally a governmental entity. Determination of governmental status depends upon having stepped "into shoes" of government itself to provide public services such as law enforcement, prison, probation services, etc. (Sunshine Act cases)]
Attached below are excerpts from messages to others, just to simplify a review of historical issues, and to invite your inquiry as to the witnesses, documents and factual basis of any issue therein raised. I fully expect you, as competent journalists, to desire further detail and verification of any pertinent issues and will be pleased to assist in that regard. I do suggest that you familiarize yourself with the contents of http://www.ousterhout.net/zoom.html by way of general background.
You were perhaps justified in remaining silent about this man’s behavior and credibility for as long as you did. Now, having decided to explore the issue, I feel you owe it to your readers and your own credibility to investigate it competently and accurately convey the nature and credibility of your subject.
Very Truly Yours,
Anthony E. Pucillo, P.A.
Favorable press relationships are important, and even more so with a volatile journalist who excoriates people and companies as this one does. ... [if advertisers want] to buy advertising at 100,000-circulation rates, in a magazine with perhaps 20,000 actual circulation (after a 10-month layoff, insolvency etc.) which hasn’t even published its distribution figures as required by federal law for ’96, ’97 or ’98, that’s an economic decision -- I would never criticize a manufacturer based on his advertising relationships.
People out there are really steamed about Mr. Campbell’s behavior and personality. Some are steamed about the folks he’s duped into unfairly attacking Sun & Fun by mischaracterizing this whole dispute and unfairly defaming the people who make this nonprofit event happen. Many decent, reasonable and credible aviation people (including ex-wife, ex-fiance, ex-employees, ex-partners, ex-writers, other journalists, manufacturers, etc.) seem to intensely dislike Jim Campbell and to think he’s literally mentally ill and completely unworthy of belief.
Okay, why should you listen to ME in all this? Well, clearly you shouldn’t! Don’t believe anything I say. Ask to see the documents. I’m biased. I’ve been lied about in print by Mr. Campbell, characterized as an "unethical" lawyer who files frivolous suits, called a criminal, a terrorist and a conspirator. [Funny, until then I thought I was just a boring middle-aged commercial trial lawyer with lots of academic and professional honors and a squeaky-clean reputation -- amazing how wrong you can be about yourself!] Mr. Campbell even embarrassed his own lawyer -- making him somehow conclude I was "disbarred." Now having worked for 25 years to earn a good reputation, you might expect that I do not like Mr. Campbell after all his attacks (I have a truly great sense of humor but, like the Sun & Fun people, enough is enough).
Besides, how could I be objective -- I represent his ex-wife, represented his company’s Bankruptcy Trustee when she sued him for Fraudulent Transfers of company assets to himself, and even sued him myself after all his creative characterizing of me. [Of course, I was a staunch fan and subscriber and didn’t become an enemy until I set out to investigate the accuracy of his attacks on another company.] And if you check the records, you’ll find that an "outrageous" suit I supposedly filed out of malice was just the federal Trustee’s suit that he settled for $60,000 (agreeing that the debt is nondischargeable under Bankruptcy Code sections on willful fraud). And that the ethics complaint Campbell bragged HE was filing against me was dismissed as baseless and called the "strangest file" in Bar counsel’s career.] But please don’t listen to me. Instead, check the records and the comments of others and see for yourself. You won’t believe some of it unless you actually do -- as the Bar lawyer said, it’s just too strange. Or just ask and I’ll point you toward the documents. If you care.
For what’s really relevant, though, why not check Mr. Campbell’s history with Sun & Fun itself? First of all, you’ll find that HE has been tossed out -- but the magazine can cover the events using any other reporter they choose. Despite the bogus "First Amendment" ranting, the issue is simply whether a proprietor has to repeatedly put up with an obnoxious individual just because he’s a journalist and thinks he can force them by making enough noise.
So what’s all this misbehavior? Surely it’s just some makeweight, trivial thing that Sun & Fun is exaggerating? Well, not exactly. It’s actually 8 years of chronic obnoxiousness. The file is 2 inches thick and contains so many complaints even Sun & Fun people can’t remember all of them.
A few highlights pertinent to recent decisions: Mr. Campbell has had to be ejected by police on three separate occasions. On two of those occasions, right after being ejected he suddenly claimed he was injured -- once by a tram and once by a golf cart (guess he forgot to report that before). After being ejected twice in ’94 for picking fights with exhibitors and spectators (and raving about the F.B.I. surveilling and intending to arrest exhibitors he was feuding with), he was permitted to return after negotiating a specific agreement not to engage in further disruptions. In ensuing years numerous other problems arose and warnings were given. Then in ‘98 he was caught using forged press parking and entry passes (he’d been doing it for years and not been caught).
To make matters worse, in ’98, he decided to file a lawsuit and make some kind of spectacle out of it. He had his part-time lawyer on hand and an unauthorized process server (not permitted to serve the kind of papers he had and contrary to express policy) trying to ambush out-of-state exhibitors with a ridiculous lawsuit alleging conspiracies and terrorism by some of his critics. (Defendants were 14 sinister university professors, nuclear physicists, aviation writers, test pilots, former advertisers and employees, Sun & Fun volunteers, Ph.D.’s in assorted disciplines and the like - all but one of whom were eventually dismissed from this silly suit by the Court.) Sun & Fun has a policy about this. Think about the effect "ambush" lawsuits by exhibitors will have on other exhibitors -- most of whom are from out of state. And consider what effect permitting private process servers to sneak around the grounds serving volunteers and others has. Private process servers have by law no right of entry without invitation, anyplace. Mr. Campbell was warned about this even after it started -- but he refused to listen and even had an on-duty volunteer served (a Florida resident who could just as easily have been served anywhere else).
The forged passes were the last straw. He was given notice to leave, and ignored it. Then he was escorted out by the Lakeland police. He threw one of this famous temper tantrums, screaming "F**king Neo-Nazis" and other offensive things at police, to the consternation of most onlookers. (I’ll send the police report if you want.)
Since almost his first appearance with his new magazine in 1990, Campbell has driven the staff and volunteers crazy with disruptions, demands and threats of litigation. He demanded to be made the official news event publication (even though there was already a good relationship and existing agreement with Southern Aviator). Being from the same county was sufficient reason in his view to feel entitled to the contract, to harass Sun & Fun staff, City and County officials and others, and to repeatedly attack the Sun & Fun staff in the magazine as if his rights had been violated.
In the ‘93-’94 years, Mr. Campbell had a flap with an ex-fiance who’d left him and it spilled over into both Oshkosh and Sun & Fun. She claimed he was harassing her and he filed police complaints in time to confront her while here for the events. He filed suit in Florida against the Exhibitor, who sued him in Texas.
In ’94, Sun & Fun permitted Campbell to hold a party in the Ultralight area, catered at an agreed price by the charity (Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs of Lakeland) that does all the event’s food service. Then despite having "sponsors" contributing, he didn’t pay most of the money ($2000) for almost a year. He had to be sued and finally paid only after he was refused another party unless he paid. Naturally, there were threats made to Sun & Fun over this, too. Since then, he’s demanded to have parties in successive years and to serve whatever he chooses, catered by whomever he wants. He also claims the right, contrary to Sun & Fun policies, to throw out anyone he doesn’t like rather than having an open event in this Sun & Fun tent. (The latter with comical results. In ’97, another exhibitor Campbell obviously loves to hate, helped himself to some chicken and fled the coop, only to have Campbell indignantly insist that he be ejected by law enforcement for this temerity. This despite Sun & Fun’s reported policy that such events be open to all. This kind of hassling by Campbell is a chronic irritant.)
Sun & Fun staff have received repeated complaints, probably annually, from other exhibitors, from volunteers and others about his arrogance, abrasiveness and belligerence. They have met with him repeatedly about it in an attempt at conciliation. Mr. Campbell ceased publishing the magazine in October, ’96 (claimed he was selling it) and didn’t send out an issue -- or even a postcard of explanation -- to subscribers. His company had just been evicted by the City of Winter Haven from its offices, owing $12,000 in past-due rent. Nevertheless, Sun & Fun permitted Mr. Campbell to attend as an Exhibitor in ’97 and sell magazines that weren’t being delivered and books that weren’t yet written (one of which was a year overdue already -- with tens of thousands in advance ad sales unrefunded). The result was predictable. He transferred $30,000 in subscription money out of the magazine company, showed up in April ’97 with an ad saying "We’re Back," then spent the new money and dumped the magazine company in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. New subscribers didn’t see a single issue until August ’97, and then it came from a nonexistent company and was printed without Bankruptcy Court consent. Campbell told the advertisers and subscribers his new company was enforcing their contracts and they had no choice about it. Hence the lawsuit. (Incidentally he didn’t tell his minority shareholders about the bankruptcy or the Court about them, either.)
The overdue book (SRG 2nd) wasn’t delivered for well over another year. And he started taking orders at Sun & Fun ’97 on two other books that haven’t been delivered to customers YET, two years later! At Sun & Fun ’98, he also sold the two books still missing in action, along with the SRG 2nd, -- expected any day -- which as I recall actually wasn’t delivered until mid-summer. In addition to the other ’98 provocations, Mr. Campbell had a rancorous scene with an employee he fired and the resulting dispute and his behavior -- including contact with her later employer -- resulted in her accusing him of stalking. Meanwhile he tried to have criminal charges filed against her and Sun & Fun security had to deal with all of it plus complaints by other affected exhibitors.
Now after all this, and after being told in ’98 that he was through, Campbell is persuading people like you, who have no idea of the reality, to support him by misrepresenting his entire history and the reasons for his ejection. His claim that he is being excluded based on his commentary as a journalist is as laughable as his claim that he has some First Amendment privilege to be present. (Think how you’d react if a reporter appeared at your place of business claiming a Constitutional right to enter and annoy your employees.)
No, I hardly think Sun & Fun should again permit Mr. Campbell to hustle his nonexistent books. And now he has a whole stablefull of them. In addition to the GPS book (whose author says he remains unpaid for articles and the final book payment) and the Hoover book that are missing in action since ’97, he has an Aero-Legal Guide, an Ultralight Guide and others - ... [8 in all, only one in existence] All for sale. And if you believe they’ll all be delivered, I want to make a deal with you .... His magazine has skipped - ... [five] months [Oct & Nov. ’97, Oct. ’98, Mar. & April ‘99] ... in only 8 issues since "resuming" publication. How many unpaid creditors does THIS company have? The last one had about $400,000 plus unfulfilled subscriptions.
I suppose you can take this letter any number of ways. I see the humor because the behavior involved is so predictable. But I hate to see more good people who believe they are standing up for good principles, duped into associating themselves with something that is far from that. I never criticize an ignorant supporter of this man, both because I was one and because their support only means they stand for the same things I do -- and they still think HE does. But there are a lot of folks who are pretty angry to have learned the opposite. And I haven’t even discussed his history or the reasons they feel that way.
But the important thing is this: give the Sun & Fun people a fair shake. You advocate fairness, but judge a dispute by hearing one side. These people couldn’t care less about silencing a magazine reporter. If Campbell wants to write rotten things about Sun & Fun, he can as easily do it from someplace else. He can fire anyone else to cover the thing, just like other magazines, and like he’s done many times in the past. But they have had to put their foot down on this man’s escalating behavior, and he has done nothing but repeatedly inflame the problem by threats and bullying -- which you’ll find if you investigate seems to be exactly how he behaves in every situation. This same behavior with exhibitors and others is exactly what has created his problems. Bill Eikhoff and Billy Henderson and the rest of the staff are really good, decent and hardworking people who have bent over backwards to avoid trouble with this man and have a decent event. But his behavior would try the patience of a saint.
Call me if you want to chat, or my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Mr. xxxxx
I have just read the utter nonsense posted by Jim Campbell on his Web page at http://www.av8r.net/news_updates/banned.htm. I am aware of Mr. Campbell's problem with chronic, pathological lying, but this page reaches a new level of scandalousness even for him. Worse, it is no more in my opinion than his fulfillment of an extortionate threat to injure and damage the Fly-In should it not capitulate to his demands and continue to accept his outrageous and dishonest behavior by permitting him to attend the Fly-In again.
I see that Mr. Campbell has included some calculatedly misleading statements - such as suggestions that EAA or its officials or public entities have attacked the Sun & Fun decision. I find it patently unlikely that these entities have "protested" this action, and I rather suspect any who even inquired about the matter in response to his misleading statements are indignant to find themselves characterized as having done so. I hope you obtain clarification and that you publish it. Nothing, repeat, NOTHING this man says may be taken at face value without independent verification. He has repeatedly published bald-faced lies in his magazine and elsewhere - turning the facts literally on their heads. For example, he claimed to have WON a lawsuit he settled for $60,000 and that he "prevailed" in a case when the Court simply AGREED to let him pay to settle it. It's easy enough to read between the lines and see similar tactics here.
This Web Page is consistent with Mr. Campbell's seemingly-uniform response of escalating conflicts he creates, and of engaging in vicious and retaliatory excoriation of any person or entity who thwarts him. When his demands are coupled with overt and implied threats of intentional injury through publication of falsehoods, they border on extortion in my view. Sun & Fun is merely today's victim, rather than some hapless aviation merchant, advertiser or citizen who has incurred his wrath. Capitulating in the face of this behavior only encourages this outrageous behavior.
This behavior itself is consistent with the previous adjudication by an NTSB Judge of Mr. Campbell's "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" and "Borderline Personality Disorder" as testified to by two psychiatrists. Quite simply, he seems unable to accept any setback without blaming and attacking others. This is the behavior that Sun & Fun volunteers and staff have witnessed for years, that his former employees and others have witnessed, and from which Sun & Fun attendees and vendors ought to be protected.
Mr. Campbell has also included in his page letters from a number of people supposedly supporting him. I am familiar with some of these individuals (see below) and their lack of objectivity is transparently obvious. However, even those few with any credibility have almost certainly been duped by Mr. Campbell's gross misrepresentations of the circumstances and legal positions of the parties. I strongly urge you not to succumb to this transparent bullying and stand firm in your position. You are right, and even those few Campbell supporters whose opinions are worth considering will understand that when the truth is told. Indeed, fully 75% of those who are most vehement about this man's repugnance are former supporters who truly believe in the principles he falsely claims to uphold, and they are all the angrier for having been deceived by him.
I totally agree with the stance of the Sun & Fun management. As a lawyer, I believe Mr. Campbell's legal position to be frivolous. This Fly-In may be covered by any freelance or other reporter who pays for a ticket. There is not only no First Amendment Issue, there is no constitutional issue of ANY kind, nor am I aware of any law supporting his supposed "right" to attend an event held by a private corporation, period. Moreover, excluding Mr. Campbell after his outrageous past behavior is not only reasonable, but the only sensible thing to do. Mr. Campbell would probably himself agree that Sun & Fun has a right to exclude ORDINARY people. Certainly HE claimed the right to exclude anyone he chose at his Sun & Fun events. It is only Mr. Campbell's own misplaced sense of personal importance and grandiosity which inform him that Sun & Fun as a proprietor has any less right to exclude a self-declared journalist who is a nuisance than any other.
As you know, I am personally something of a student of Mr. Campbell's history and behavior because of my involvement in various cases and inquiries involving him. Although I write this letter on a personal basis, I have represented Mr. Campbell's ex-wife, the former employee who has attested to his fabrication of false Sun & Fun entry and press credentials in two consecutive years and even the Bankruptcy Trustee who sued him for bankruptcy fraud. I do not take his behavior lightly. In my view, he is not only a threat to the orderly operation and safety of the Fly-In, but to the entire industry of Sport and Experimental Aviation. As an aside, I am aware from several witnesses that Mr. Campbell owns a 9-mm handgun and that his '97 Ad rep has attested to his bragging of carrying it during Sun & Fun events that year. (Mr. Campbell had no concealed weapons permit, according to public records reports, and I'm not certain he is eligible for one.) I am thankful he did NOT have it when he reportedly exhibited his tantrum in 1998.
Mr. Campbell's history of disruption at Sun & Fun is well known. In addition to his repeated ejections for harassment and other misbehavior, he has frequently insisted upon holding parties in the Ultralight area, with repeated angry demands upon and aggravation of Sun & Fun staff and others. One year, he failed to pay some $2000 to the caterer -- a charity -- for nearly a year, even though he had sponsors sharing the expenses. He finally had to be sued to collect the money; when finally served with papers, with difficulty, he sought to defer the hearing. He only paid this debt after Sun & Fun backed the charity and refused to permit another party until he did pay - on the very eve of the next Sun & Fun event. In later years he has refused to comply with the Sun & Fun agreement regarding catering without repeated arguments and threats; even in '98 he was badgering the staff with lawyers to change catering and other policies. Mr. Campbell clearly believes that rules and policies only exist for others!
Mr. Campbell appeared at Sun & Fun '97 and held a party, though his magazine hadn't sent an issue to subscribers in 6 months. When a subscriber publicly referred to him as "beneath contempt" for doing so, he called and threatened the man with a lawsuit. Campbell solicited and accepted subscription moneys payable to Airedale Press, Inc. promising "We're Back" in his ads-- only to abandon that company and never send out an issue until that of August, '97. He advertised the 2nd Edition Sportplane Resource Guide (with a "discount price" until Oshkosh 97), took orders at Sun & Fun '97 and didn't deliver it until MID-'98!! Similarly, he advertised at Sun & Fun '97 the GPS Guide book mentioned below "available at Oshkosh '97" and still hasn't delivered it; it isn't completed yet! The Air of Injustice book (written by him this time - no excuses) was advertised available in "Summer '97." He took orders for it and two years later hasn't even written it! Perhaps this would be less outrageous, but Mr. Campbell reportedly deposited checks and credit card orders for these items not yet in existence.
I've mentioned in the past some of the outrageous lies Mr. Campbell has disseminated, such as claiming circulation of anything from 45,000 to 100,000 when he has fewer than 10,000 subscribers and probably fewer newsstand sales currently than even that. (Newsstand sales might have been 15,000 in '96 but his largest distributor apparently discontinued the magazine and it is seldom seen on newsstands.) Mr. Campbell has not even published his circulation figures in the magazine for 1996, 1997 or 1998 as required by federal law! I've seen printed literature suggesting a circulation of as much as 75,000 and 100,000 by 1994 and 1995 - a 300% or 400% exaggeration. In reality from the records I have, his circulation didn't exceed the mid-20's. After not delivering a magazine for 10 months in '96-'97, then unilaterally cutting frequency in half contrary to subscriber contracts, he has repeatedly skipped months even in his "bimonthly" format since then. I question whether any legitimate fly-in ought to furnish the man space to sell magazines to unwitting flyers and ads to unwitting merchants.
Indeed, even at this moment March is nearly over and the March issue hasn't been spotted ... [nor April now] ... The industry "norm" for an issue is release weeks BEFORE the cover month, not a month later; March is six weeks late and clearly nonexistent (note that the "dummy" cover on his Web page doesn't even show an issue month). He skipped October and November, 1997 after starting "bimonthly" publication in August, '97. Skipped October, 1998 again. This is the fourth month [now 5th] missed in eight issues. He's advertised a GPS book and a "Bob Hoover" book as imminently available for a year or more - and reportedly is accepting money for both and has been for many months - when in fact neither book as yet exists. In fact, Pat Navin, the advertised author of the GPS book, advises that he is in a dispute with Mr. Campbell in Bankruptcy Court as to whether Mr. Campbell has even PAID for the book so as to be entitled to the manuscript as exists to this date. Mr. Campbell is unable to even identify in his ads, an author for the book he is selling. If I buy a power drill from a mail-order company and it fails to ship in a month, it is required to refund my money or give me a cancellation option - cancelling automatically if I don't respond. How is it that Mr. Campbell feels entitled to accept and deposit money for ads and for books, or for subscriptions - and not deliver them for ten months, a year or more? Are we to simply trust him?
This is the same man who sold tens of thousands of dollars in prepaid ads to sport aviation merchants for a '96 edition of the Sportplane Resource Guide, kept the money, and didn't deliver the book until 1998. Who accepted purchase money at Sun & Fun '97 and other fly-ins for the SRG 2d edition and repeatedly represented it was "at the printer" or due out anytime, then didn't refund the money when it was almost two years late in coming out. The man who held a subscription drive in Fall, '96 - just before ceasing publication for 10 months -- and then transferred over $30,000 of that subscription money to his sister company in the book business.
This is the man who dumped the US Aviator publisher, Airedale Press, Inc. in bankruptcy without even telling his minority shareholders he was doing so or disclosing their existence to the Court in his filings. Who didn't tell his shareholders that he was taking the $50,000 airplane they thought the company owned, the subscription lists, ad contracts, equipment and funds - and going into the same business by himself - demanding that subscribers and advertisers honor their own contracts as if he were the same company! The man who didn't even send a postcard to subscribers - of which I was one - telling them why they got no magazines for ten months. The man who abandoned perhaps $400,000 in creditors in the bankruptcy including unpaid payroll taxes taken from employees, printers with judgments up to $100,000 and others, then took the assets and began using the name of a nonexistent company and printing the magazine without consent of the Bankruptcy Court so that he was sued for improper Fraudulent Transfers by the Trustee.
This is the man who had his ad rep distribute literature at Sun & Fun '97 claiming the magazine was in print for ten years - only it was 7 years, 4 months after its inception. Who jumped from Volume 8 in '96 to Volume 11 in three issues to make it appear he'd been in publication for a decade. Who billed his '97 "annual party" as the 7th and '98 as the 8th, when they were, respectively the 4th and 5th!! Finally, this is the man who claimed he has "won" a suit by the Bankruptcy Trustee for these bankruptcy frauds, that the suit was frivolous and outrageous, when he in fact settled it by agreeing to pay some $60,000 (after depleting all company assets) including payroll taxes withheld from employees and never paid to the I.R.S. In fact, this obligation is deemed nondischargeable under Bankruptcy Code provisions relating to willful fraud, if he defaults in payment.
Some of these lies and misdeeds seem trivial, and there are many of greater importance, but they paint the picture of this individual and his business practices. He is seen as a menace by many ... exhibitors and held in terror by others because of his temper and his threatening behavior. He has had to be ejected on three separate occasions, but has caused untold trouble on others. As one TRIVIAL example, I spoke not long ago with a fly-in exhibitor who had had a dispute with Campbell years earlier. Upon finding that man's 14-year-old son in sole charge of the company booth one day, Campbell launched into a diatribe threatening the company and the father to this child. I have personally witnessed his habit of seeking concealment or distraction, then taking photographs of individuals he perceives as adversaries or threats, for later use. Many of this man's former employees, former friends, ex-wife and ex-fiance have serious doubts as to his mental and emotional balance, as do others who have seen him in his angry, uncontrolled rages.
Let me provide you with some interpretation of the matter set forth in the Web Page Mr. Campbell has posted, disparaging the Sun & Fun Fly-In:
"Former FBI Agent Tony Salemme": Mr Salemme is a nothing more than a private process server. He is not a law officer of any kind. Mr. Salemme was hired by Mr. Campbell's lawyer to serve papers in a private lawsuit at the Sun & Fun event, consistent with Campbell's claim that he intended to announce this suit in a national news conference (which didn't occur). The suit alleged various conspiracy theories, criminal actions and similar unusual claims. Mr. Salemme received suit papers issued by the Clerk of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, which Mr. Salemme is not even authorized by law to serve! He has no authority to serve papers issued by any court but the local one and is or should be aware he has no such authority. Further, he has no authority to enter upon any property without invitation for that purpose. Nevertheless, he apparently attempted to illegally deliver papers, contrary to Sun & Fun's regulations. IF Mr. Salemme ever uttered a statement relating to "obstruction of justice" it was an asinine one ... [Incidentally, 13 of the 14 parties needing to be served have since been dismissed from Mr. Campbell's "newsworthy" suit for various reasons without even needing to defend it.]
"Howard Fried": Mr. Fried used to write for Flying magazine and used to be an F.A.A.-appointed Designated Examiner. He has been characterized by Mr. Campbell as a legal advisor or consultant (though I can find no evidence he is a lawyer). He has been quoted by Mr. Campbell as issuing various sympathetic legal opinions in other disputes he has had. When Mr. Fried sought public sympathy for his non-reappointment to a Designated Examiner position, Mr. Campbell published Mr. Fried's embittered article of complaint for him. Since then, he has advertised his company as the publisher of a book Mr. Fried is allegedly writing.
"Ralph Livingston" This may be the most interesting contribution of all. Mr. Livingston is a self-appointed aviation safety expert who expounds in various Internet (Usenet) newsgroups under the names "Roswell" and "NatAero." [see e.g. alt.aviation.safety] To be kind, he is considered an eccentric and is the target of ongoing pranks and flames for his eccentrically grandiose, indignant manner of expressing himself. Mr. Livingston maintains a Web Page claiming to be an aviation expert, but I find no academic degrees listed NOR pilot certifications listed as credentials.
Here is Mr. Livingston's previous opinion of Mr. Campbell, posted after the announcement of a party for 1000 people while not sending magazines to subscribers:
"Has anyone checked the passenger list on that big UFO leaving Rancho Santa Fe California? Perhaps we will find Zoomer on board! Thirty years ago most States provided care for delusional individuals, now they are allowed to freely walk among us, whoever thay may be. . . . .
It is beyond belief that anyone would have the unmitigated gall to take other people's money without fulfilling the promise to provide service for that money! Then to throw a party at a major aviation event??? That's simply amazing!The real shame will be if anyone remotely associated with aviation, even thinks of participating in a celebration thrown by Barnum/Bede or his buddy with unearned money obtained from others. What is the aviation community comming too? Why is the EAA allowing this kind of thing?"
"Max Sherrell": A Mini-500 helicopter dealer engaged in a dispute with the manufacturer, Revolution Helicopter Company, whom Mr. Campbell has assisted in his claims against the company.
"Attorney Ed Booth": An attorney who (no surprise) represents Mr. Campbell's company and has done so since at least 1993 or so. Not surprising that he supports Mr. Campbell's viewpoint, though his legal advice is questionable in this case.
"Sun & Fun with a Sheriff's writ": (Accusing Sun & Fun of interfering with a levy of execution.) This is a genuinely inexplicable assertion. George Conn has a small (and questionable) judgment against a company that hasn't existed in 13 years. He admits that the owner of the business currently selling a similar aircraft does not owe him any money; the company that didn't exist until seven years later surely doesn't. Mr. Conn did nothing for a decade, and now states he is unable to collect on the judgment because the long-dead company has no assets. Mr. Campbell's assertion that Conn "sought to seize assets" and was "turned away by Sun & Fun" appears to be a deliberate invention not even supported by the testimony of the individual involved. Mr. Conn would like to levy on assets of the nonexistent company but there ARE none. The only entity he was "turned away" by, to my knowledge, was the new company and its owner, who have threatened to have him arrested if he continues to harass and libel them with Mr. Campbell's assistance. Incidentally, I am advised that the new company owner plans to sue Mr. Campbell for this and similar falsehoods and is considering joining this individual in the suit as well.
I trust the foregoing information will be of assistance to you in formulating policy. As I have said previously, my files are open as needed. I strongly urge you to stand up to this individual and demonstrate that no matter how loud he is, and no matter how much bad ink he threatens, he cannot with impunity behave dishonestly and disruptively, threaten the staff and volunteers and Sun & Fun EAA Fly-In, Inc. and have them capitulate to his demands.
April 20, 1999
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I sent you a lengthy and detailed letter yesterday with ample historical information on Mr. Campbell and his assertions. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to add the following in response to specific statements in your article:
"US Aviator owner and writer Jim "Zoom" Campbell"
Only Mr. Campbell seems to believe he "owns" or has ever owned U.S. Aviator. His investors and minority shareholders do not. From its first issue, the masthead declared its publisher to be Airedale Press. Court filings and affidavits confirm the corporate ownership. He dumped the company in bankruptcy in '97 after missing ten issues and then published a new issue using a nonexistent company name. His after-the-fact claim that the magazine was somehow "his" all along is disputed by his co-owners, former associate publisher and others. None of the tax returns or other documents reflect such ownership and there are reams of documents attesting that "U.S. Aviator" was a d/b/a of Airedale Press, Inc. All subscription moneys were paid to Airedale, ad contracts were WITH Airedale, the debts ($400,000 or so, estimated) and judgments were against Airedale. Only the assets found their way into his hands. That's why the company's Bankruptcy Trustee sued him for Fraudulent Transfers to restore the money, airplane, equipment and the rest of what he took personally.
"Campbell was told several weeks ago he was persona non grata at the event"
Nonsense. He was advised unequivocally and formally, in writing, a YEAR AGO -- on April 24, 1998 -- that he was unwelcome at future events and action would be taken to prevent his entry. Even THAT letter wasn't necessary following the written trespass notice and police escort off the grounds. I have a copy of the April 24 letter if you care to see it, along with much other documentation.
"Although one might think Campbell would have a strong First Amendment argument that freedom of the press should prevail, a Florida court ruled otherwise, saying that since SnF takes no local, state or federal dollars, it is a private event and can allow in whichever journalists it so chooses."
You have misstated the facts, the jurisdiction AND the legal issues, parroting Campbell's misdirection. First, the Court was a United States District Court (U.S.D.C. Middle District of Florida) and a FEDERAL judge ruled on FEDERAL Constitutional issues. NOT a "Florida" Court (the case was filed in state court and transferred to federal because of these issues). Moreover, the ruling was NOT predicated absence of public funding, nor was that relevant (see the authorities I sent). The Court squarely quashed the Constitutional claim because Sun & Fun owns and leases the subject property, and the lease places access solely under control of this Florida nonprofit corporation -- NOT any government agency.
Finally, you necessarily imply that Campbell was in fact excluded for the content of his writing -- otherwise no "freedom of the press" issue arises. Thus you commence by accepting his (preposterous) factual assertions.
You have demonstrated that the Press can be manipulated as effectively as the public, merely by poking a "hot button" as Mr. Campbell unerringly does -- clothing himself in the chauvinism of consumer safety, aviator rights and now, most grandiosely of all, the Constitution!
An astonishing amount of idiocy passes even in the Press under the "civil rights" banner, but the Constitution addresses only citizen/government interaction -- not citizen/citizen disputes. If government awards, donations or other funding had this effect, "public" radio and TV, all private schools, most charities and half of private businesses and citizens would be deemed governmental entities. All sorts of foolishness would follow, from inability to fire a gas station attendant without prior hearing to press attendance at every manager's meeting. Why not also force football teams to let all networks televise games for free, since teams get public money and lease public stadia? [Look at the citations -- even Shands Hospital/ University of Florida ISN'T such an entity. See also the NCAA excerpt -- where ACTUAL censorship was in issue and publications were selectively excluded.]
"Campbell [snip] and worries what precedent it may set when "other reporters say things SnF doesn’t like." "
They always have done so. Hundreds of reporters have attended annually for 25 years. The only one ever excluded HAPPENS to be the person repeatedly counterfeiting media passes; engaging in scuffles with other exhibitors; accused of "stalking," harassment and belligerence toward other exhibitors; cursing police officers; engaging in confrontations with his ex-fiance; bringing in his lawyer and process server (reportedly in the guise of reporters) to "ambush" non-Florida residents with suit papers and repeatedly feigning injury and threatening to sue Sun & Fun. Even another U.S. Aviator reporter was welcome.
Mr. Campbell was long ago officially determined by the FAA and NTSB in the past to suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder; many who've been close to him believe he hasn't changed a bit. There isn't a shred of evidence except HIS grandiose beliefs supporting his claim of censorship.
"Worse than the banning itself, Campbell claims SnF officials have engaged in concerted "character assassination, making claims that are blatantly untrue." "
Is it any wonder Sun & Fun employees are ordered to clam up? Yes, he's repeatedly threatened suit, has grossly distorted the statements of Sun & Fun employees and others. Yet you imply ill motivation -- and IGNORE Sun & Fun's public statements completely denying Campbell's censorship allegations -- even those run by other publications.
Do you wish to be taken seriously as journalists or just seen as an entertainment-and-advertising medium? If you, too, are so frightened of Jim Campbell that you daren't do more than curry favor with him this situation is worse than even I imagined.