Now that Chad Haber is finally talking to the media about his purported desire to be attorney general, he's confirming what I've known would happen: get Chad talking, and he'll sink his own life raft without any help from me.
The aspiring Libertarian nominee spoke with Rick Knobe on KSOO's Viewpoint University last week. Haber is angling for the South Dakota Libertarian Party's nod with one main promise: money. He told Knobe that his entrepreneurial skills guarantee that he can raise campaign money, and he promised that every Libertarian candidate "will be propped up" with radio and TV ads, implying that Haber plans to bankroll the entire SDLP ticket.
Knobe asked Haber to give examples of his entrepreneurial activities. Following is the lengthy transcript of that exchange:
Rick Knobe: I want to learn a bit more about you. I went back and read some of the news stories and one of the things you list is you're an entrepreneur. Tell me what you've done that qualifies you to be an entrepreneur.
Chad Haber: That's a great question. So, I have owned several companies ranging from trucking to dealerships to manufacturing, and, yeah, it's good. I like doing startups. I like taking a small team that people think you can't do that and then proving them wrong. Annette's campaign was a great example. It was fun to do that, it was basically a startup.
Knobe: So the companies that you started up, how long ago did you do that?
Haber: So, five years ago when Annette's battle with Marty started, and they started throwing around the f-word—fraud—and, you know, when the attorney general makes a claim, the first assumption is that there's something hehind it. And the good thing is, in South Dakota, we are the most corrupt state in the country according to some sites, and Marty Jackley has had a scandal-ridden career. And so in South Dakota, he doesn't need to have an excuse, sometimes he just does it. You look at Brandon Taliaferro, you know, $250,000 to defend himself against trumped-up charges in the Mette rape scandal, the child rape scandal. He was the attorney that pointed out children were being molested, and then Marty tried to prosecute him for pointing out that children were being molested. 250 grand it cost him to defend that. That's economic terrorism. I think I got out about 2013, where I could just see that they were never going to stop attacking her, and every time they would attack—
Knobe: When they say attacking her, you're talking about—
Knobe: —Your Annette, your wife.
Haber: —and the headlines are always horrible, right? So now she's currently facing 24 years in jail. Not why I'm running. For the record, I love my wife, o.k., but—she's facing 24 years in jail basically because she learned how to raise money. So if you'd have looked at my businesses, you know, I had a lot of people dependent on me, and you don't do things like that for the money, you don't start businesses for the money, you start them because you have a dream and a passion, and so I sold out, and most of that money has now gone into medicines for kids and it's gone into legal defenses, and, you know, yeah, it's gone.
Knobe: So, o.k.—
Haber: So I was very rich. We should have been untouchable.
Knobe: O.K., so, go back, I want to get to—o.k., I understand what you've said about you've started businesses, you've run them, and you were very successful. Give me some names, 'cuz I'm trying to, I want to be able to put some names with some companies you've started that I would say, "Oh yeah, I know that one. Oh yeah, I know that one." Help me.
Haber: So the reason I got out is to protect the companies. By naming the companies now on the air, I'm making them a target.
Knobe: Why would you make them a target? Why would that be a target?
Haber: It's just what's happened. You know, five years of living through this, it's what happens. And so you know as you get to know me, you'll start saying, "Oh, that's that." I am afraid, o.k.? I'm very afraid of Marty and his retaliation... [transcription by CAH; Rick Knobe interviewing Chad Haber, KSOO Radio, 2014.07.24].
1. The Entrepreneurship Lie
The only specific example Haber offers of his fundraising skills is the Bosworth for Senate campaign. Haber talks revenue but neglects cost. He spent (and since Haber is claiming Bosworth for Senate as one of his entrepreneurial skills, let's assign him responsibility for spending decisions) more than six times as much per vote as big-money candidate Mike Rounds yet delivered less than a tenth of Rounds's primary-winning vote total. According to the total expenditures reported by Bosworth for Senate to the Federal Election Commission as of June 30, Haber spent $440 for every primary vote his wife got.
"Entrepreneurship" isn't throwing lots of other people's money around; it's producing return on investment. If South Dakota Libertarians are nominating an attorney general candidate based on the ability to deliver return on investment of campaign funds, they should dismiss Haber and nominate Larry Rhoden, who spent $9.39 per vote in the GOP Senate primary. Or nominate Stace Nelson, who spent $10.23 per vote and would bring criminal investigative experience to the office. Or nominate Jason Ravnsborg, who spent $27.38 per primary vote and has a law degree.
(I think I spent $60 on a newspaper ad when I ran for school board in 2011. I got 448 votes. That's a bit more than 13 cents per vote. I'm an entrepreneur! Vote for me!)
2. The Business Dodge
Haber claims to have started and successfully operated a number of business that made him "very rich." He says he sold them all and now declines to name them for fear that they will become targets.
A review of public corporation records reveals that Chad Haber has indeed incorporated a number of entities. However, not one appears to be operational or to have made any discernible contribution to the economy. I have documented several business entities that Chad Haber has incorporated in Utah and South Dakota, the most prominent of which is 100X, a Utah entity that under Haber's presidency and directorship appears to have engaged in a mortgage-flipping scheme that sent six people to federal prison. Haber's other businesses include the following:
I see no evidence that Chad Haber has ever run a successful startup company. I see no evidence that Chad Haber has ever sold a startup company to anyone else and that said sold company is still in operation. Haber might as well be telling Libertarians that he knocked down trees in the woods where no one could hear them.
3. The Fear Fudge
Haber claims to be acting on "twenty seconds of insane courage," a line that Haber and eHarmony borrow from We Bought a Zoo. Twenty seconds must be all the courage Haber has in him. Pressed by Knobe to name his companies, Haber says he is "very afraid" of Marty Jackley.
What's there to be afraid of? Haber tried to defraud raffle ticket buyers, and the attorney general has yet to file any charges, settling instead for squeezing some refunds out of PHS. The state says Haber's wife broke Medicaid rules, and the attorney general settled for a relatively small financial repayment. AG Jackley has let slip away opportunities to bag Haber and Bosworth on evidence of real business misconduct; his record suggests he is unlikely to aggress any harder on trumped-up charges.
What's there to be afraid of? I bust AG Jackley's chops on a regular basis on this blog. I'm not afraid of him. What's he going to do to me? He can't take away my teaching certificate, which the state just renewed for another five years—ha!
If Haber's startups still exist, and if he sold them, what harm could the attorney general do to Haber through those businesses? If Haber still owns any legitimate businesses, how does not telling the press the names of those businesses prevent a vindictive attorney general from reviewing public business records, finding the names of Haber's businesses, and ordering all manner of audits and investigations? On KSOO last week, Haber wasn't as afraid of Marty Jackley as he was of Rick Knobe and his one simple question: Give me some names. Give us evidence that what you're saying is true.
4. The Courtroom Shield
Recall Haber's odd comment about his flown wealth: "...I was very rich. We should have been untouchable."
Untouchable. When I dream of getting rich (hey, did you ring that tip jar yet? ;-) ), untouchable is not the first adjective that jumps to my mind. It suggests that Haber views wealth as a way to avoid legal prosecution.
And if wealth isn't available, candidacy for public office is:
Knobe: ...this all could be for naught if you can't get on the ballot
Haber: Absolutely, and then I will be targeted. Being on the ballot—
Knobe: Well, no, I don't know if you're going to be—
Haber: —being on the ballot gives you some protection. It does. We saw a very peaceful year when Annette was a candidate for public office. O.K., it was a very peaceful year. Nobody messed with her until April, o.k.? That was the firs peaceful moment of breahting room we've had since—for five years.
Knobe: So are you running then because you think that if you get on the ballot that'll buy you more time for whatever—
Haber: No, no, no—
Knobe: —I want to make sure I understand
Haber: No, So I'm running because South Dakota has some clear problems, some of which I've experienced personally, and this is the most effective way to cause change, to create change [Knobe–Haber interview, 2014.07.24].
Haber slips and tries to recover, but his talk of protection belies his boilerplate. Haber's slip supports the statement I made when he announced his candidacy three weeks ago: he is running for office to buy himself a few months of immunity from criminal prosecution.
Just like his wife, Chad Haber is his own worst enemy. The more he talks, the more he'll expose his own unfitness for public trust.