By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"No, no! Not after what they have done," Yusem interjected. "I've invested too much into this. They need to reimburse you for all your activities."
Yusem says he believes it is possible donors have confused Bush's foundation with Fontaine's.
"They've done a lot of great things; I don't want to take that away from them," he said of Points of Light. "But at the same time, they stole this foundation's name. That's the whole basis of the argument: confusion. They have purposely created the confusion."
Does he think former President Bush even knows of this scandal?
"I'd assume Robert Goodwin would be man enough to tell the honorary chairman that they have a problem."
Yusem points to this evidence to support his allegations against Points of Light:
•Then-Congressman Bob Dornan (R-Garden Grove) arranged for Fontaine to attend a cocktail reception honoring then-Vice President George Bush at the Disneyland Hotel on May 4, 1986. Fontaine says Bush introduced himself to her at that reception. When Dornan told the vice president of her many charitable accomplishments, Fontaine recalls, Bush told her, "What a point of light you are."
•A May 29, 1990, letter from Barbara Bush to Fontaine states, "It is a great pleasure to send greetings to all involved with the 'Pointes of Light' Volunteer Student Cultural Program."
•In August 1990, Fontaine received the George Washington Medal of Honor from the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge. The award—for her work with Pointes of Light—was bestowed on her by George Bush, the Freedom Foundation's honorary chairman.
•Another letter from Bar, this one on White House letterhead and dated May 17, 1991, states, "Community groups like 'Pointes of Light' who do wonderful things to our precious children will leave a long and lasting mark on our nation."
Laying out his evidence, Yusem concludes, "They're hung. And they're trying to run a bus over this lady. And their son is running for president."
It upsets Yusem that the younger Bush can apparently tiptoe into the Oval Office without any of this controversy so much as soiling the bottoms of his wingtips.
"We're not trying to sabotage George W. Bush," Yusem insisted. "May the best man win. Personally, I'm for Gore. I can't get over Gary Graham; I'm against the death penalty. But Nancy has nothing but good things to say about George W. Bush."
"And what does this have to do with this campaign?" asked Bush spokesman Scott McClellan when we called the national campaign headquarters on June 29, hoping to get a reaction to all this. "I'd refer you to President Bush's foundation."
We explained that Points of Light was conveniently holding its annual conference in Orlando through July 5 and that we'd left our number on their office answering machine, but the recording explained they would only infrequently check messages.
"Annual conference?" asked McClellan. "What's that?"
That wasn't important right now, we explained. What is important is that the foundation tied to his candidate's father is in a pissing match with a foundation run by a 72-year-old woman who's known and loved for her prodigious good work in conservative Orange County. And, we might add (and did), his candidate has swung through conservative Orange County several times to pick up an awful lot of campaign cash. With Orange County such a major base of support for the Bush campaign, surely they don't want this controversy boiling up right now.
Oh, and Fontaine is tight with Bob Dornan.
"I'm not sure I even understand this," McClellan said.
We explained that the Los Angeles Times had written about this controversy ("She Fights to Keep 'Pointes of Light' Aglow," June 10). We faxed him a copy of that story and noted on the cover sheet that Ms. Fontaine now wants $100 million. We gave McClellan a deadline of the following day to react.
The next day, having read the fax, McClellan called back to further distance the Bush campaign from the sins of the father—or, at least, the father's foundation.
"I looked at the article," McClellan admitted. "The campaign has no involvement whatsoever in this matter. Neither are we familiar with it."
Yusem told the Weekly that he had contacted several people about the matter, including a private attorney, the American Civil Liberties Union, Al Gore's presidential campaign and—you guessed it—Dubya's campaign.
We asked Yusem how Bush 2000 reacted to his call.
"Uh, I didn't actually call," he said. "I sent them an e-mail. I haven't heard back."
Indeed, the Fontaine case has produced a virtual media blackout.
"Lots of people are scared," Fontaine said of people's reluctance to come forward. "No one wants to attack the shark."
"They are very powerful," Yusem said of the Bush family.
While awaiting the Points of Light Foundation's next move, Yusem is lobbying Dornan to air Fontaine's story on his nationally syndicated radio program, The Bob Dornan Show.
Fontaine noted that Dornan's former secretary wrote her a jingle that went, "Twinkle, twinkle, little star; Pointes of Light is what you are."
This flap may indeed be close to Dornan's heart. He has bought two paintings from Fontaine, and he knows something about a better-known national figure stealing ideas from the less famous: Pat Buchanan ripped off Dornan's "Faith Family Freedom" campaign motto in the 1996 GOP presidential primary.