Oct 25, 2013

The Empire Strikes Back: NXIVM Attacks Loudmouth Critic

It's War: Cult Unleashes Legal Army

Dirty Little Secrets = A Touchy Issue

Blogger Shuts Down Site After Search Warrant

"I've Got Nothing to Lose" Motto Put to Test

Free Media Supporters Set to Defend Rights

Well, this one woke us up out of hibernation...

John "That Blogger' Tighe heard a knock on his door Thursday morning. Upon answering, he was handed a piece of paper.  From there, all we need to do is reprise that famous line from The Dead's classic song Truckin':

"If you got a warrant, I guess you're gonna come in."

Yes sir: say hello to the friendly folks from New York State's Bureau of Criminal Investigations and their State Police brethren.  So it goes when one is called on to pay the piper for a life of dealing dope, children, hookers or explosives; right?  Wait...what?  No, no, no: none of those forms of nastiness are part of this troubling development.

Instead, Mr Tighe has a different problem -- and one that just might be even more of a long-playing headache for him than any of those above-mentioned infractions. It's called NXIVM.

Cue the actors and let's refresh ourselves on this "you couldn't make this shit up" script:

- A Boy Wonder type, claiming to be the smartest guy in the world, starts a multi-level marketing / buyer's club firm in the Capital Region

- Said firm is shut down by consent decrees (and a hefty fine) after various AGs deem it to be an illegal pyramid scheme.

- Boy Wonder, not to be discouraged, meets up with a nurse who shares his big ideas infatuation with human potential motivation, cooks up a buffet of various West Coast psycho-fads, adds a touch of Ayn Rand superior beast pepper and (oh yes) sprinkles in that good old MLM math model to create a learning system / philosophy / curriculum  / seminar series called Executive Success Programs.  Its promise: empower individuals to unshackle the ties that bind and proceed to rule the world. Or something like that.

- From here, it gets weird --  REAL weird. Our hero adopts the moniker of Vanguard and seminar attendees are convinced to ante-up into a hush-hush, secret-secret handshake club/family (called NXIVM) lead by an all-knowing, top-down leadership structure deeply suspicious of outsiders and ever-protective of its inner workings.  But it somehow worked, as the organization built up a reputed membership roll (called Espians) of thousands.

- What followed in the years proceeding years was a slow motion wave of accusations that NXIVM was something more than its self-claimed shiny happy people fairy tale. From the initial "I just got out of this strange meeting" chit chat at Albany area business mixers to full blown exposes in international news publications, its all been put out there:  accusations of everything from NXIVM being one big sex orgy to murderers to a political plot to a freaky mind-bending cult to a child-kidnapping ring to it being the second coming of Jonestown or Waco.  Meanwhile, others observers think it's just a simple (yet creative) rip-off of wealthy, slim, brown-haired women with self-confidence issues (you'd really have to look into the back story to figure that part out).

Wherever the truth lies in that spaghetti bowl of craziness, one thing is for sure: NXIVM doesn't take criticism well. If said criticism comes from either internal off-the-bus family members (traitors) or outsiders, the response is the same: scorched earth destruction.  The court records are littered with the names of people that felt NXIVM didn't pass the smell test. Still others claim that non-court remedies are also part of the retribution, including allegations of midnight harassment, residential break-ins, vehicular assault, dumpster record-diving, phone and bank record hacks and even (get this one) a failed toss of a nationally-known cult critic over the rails of a cruise ship.  Some of these claims seem substantiated, others have yet to be. But it's all out there.  See, I told you we were in who-hoo-hooo land on this.

Enter Mr Tighe and his Decline of Saratoga (aka Saratoga Politics) blog. Following in the trailblazing footsteps of several local blogs preceding his own version (all of who also took on NXIVM), this born & bred Saratogian continued that noble fight. In fact, he took it the the Nth degree.

Despite private warnings and ample evidence that this was an opponent that would counter any attacks with a full-fledged war room mentality. Need proof? Just ask the mighty Vanguard's former paramour how this all worked out for her. Or better yet for you Saratoga folks: ask former Man About Town (and one-time NXIVM director of its dirty tricks department) Joe O'Hara where exactly he's been hiding for the past few years since he started asking 'WTF is going on around here?".  Or countless others.  A clue: it ain't pretty.

But Tighe persisted -- and that hasn't been pretty either. His reporting style is in your face and sloppy (as in: not always accurate). It's first person: you're getting his take on issues and not necessarily the take of others. While I have had my issues with him -- specifically his insistence of unleashing vitriolic and completely personal attacks on local election candidates -- I also appreciate the role he played in opposing the queendom of former Mayor Val Keehn and in his long running effort of exposing the soft white underbelly of this alternate universe called NXIVM.  My recommendation to anyone not familiar with the tale: read thru the back pages of the blog. Warning: buckle the seat belts.

So here's what we know: a warrant was executed to raid the home of Mr Tighe and two other individuals (one in Rochester, one in Schenectady), based on a 2012 complaint from (guess who) NXIVM LLC. While no arrests were made, computers were confiscated.

The guess here is that this is related to Mr Tighe's publishing the NXIVM membership (Espians) list, which took place right about that time. A good public service, in my view --  but I digress.

The questions become:

1) Are they seeking evidence that Mr Tighe's computer trails can lead them to the individual who fed him that list OR are they seeking evidence that he was the actual hacker?  We shall see.

2)  But the more problematic question is this: if Saratoga In Decline's name were The Saratogian (or Saratoga Today or Saratoga Wire or some other so-called mainstream media outlet), would the same warrant have been signed?   If not, are we witnessing the inability of a judge to realize that the media world has changed, that these new-fangled outlets such as Saratoga In Decline have arisen because of the failure of those old school titles to provide anything more to the local community than high school field hockey scores, police logs and helpful summer gardening tips? Maybe, just maybe....

Most of the cafe-hanging yahoos don't quite get this as the pressing issue here. "He deserves it, the crazy bastard" seems to be the chorus. They then bury their heads back into one of the local rags to read about how lucky they are to have a new national chain store opening up on Broadway or what Michelle Riggi is up to.

As said; we here at Nanoburgh haven't been real happy with Mr Tighe's election coverage as of late (Disclaimer: the author of this essay is part of mayoral candidate Joanne Yepsen's circle).  But  we might soon be leading the call to circle the wagons around this guy, if our Freedom of the Press limitations and fears are realized.

We'll certainly stay on top of this as more facts are brought to the open.  But yes; we are again awake.



Anonymous said...

Outstanding report. I am new to Saratoga and this helps me as a background piece to this puzzle.

Christian deFrancqueville said...

Great post!

Christian deFrancqueville said...

Thank you for putting the time in to this post Well done. I emailed John when the story broke and he told me he hired the Kindlons. I did ask him why he can't post on his blog and he did not reply. The fact that he stopped talking concerns me. Fine, if he broke the law go after him. But why is his absolute right to free speech being affected by his current legal situation?

Christian deFrancqueville said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Some crazy sheet.

Nanoburgh? said...

That's a good question.

I would assume it's "on advice of counsel"

But all bets are off.

Real Deal said...


Anonymous said...

If Jon is gone we need someone to pick up the salck. There is nobody else in Saratoga that will talk about Nexium and the politics and other things.

Anonymous said...

The Wrath of Vanguard

Ellen B said...

Jeez. I think I will go live in the mountains now. Join me?

Bluto said...

I rely on SID for my local news given that we in Saratoga Springs have no real newspaper, I hope that he is not intimidated by NXIVM's vast resources.

Andy Jennings said...

Great post

Citizen Clancy said...

This means I have to come here now to offer my genius? It would be a whole lot better if people just came and read my fancy blog instead.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sad, I too would visit Saratoga Politics, before reading a newspaper.

That's quite a statement.

But, regarding his website, isn't it a violation of our first amendment if the feds come knocking on everyone's door, those who posted on his blog?

Or, am I missing the point of this investigation?

Nanoburgh? said...

Your theory is unlikely.

The smart money says they are seeking info on who gained access to the membership list and fed it to tighe.

Anonymous said...

Dat fuked

Anonymous said...

Johnny Boy will be sharing a cell with Joe O'Hara. Just saying

Anonymous said...

Hey Nano
Are you vying to be Tighes replacement blog?

You seem to already have a following, so .........go for it.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:59
JT is missed and your Citizen Nancy blog has probably less readers/commenter's than your WSPN show had listeners. This is fact


Nanoburgh? said...


Nah: we're just acting as a placeholder here.

Tom Payne said...

Hey Nano--

While I (and others no doubt) did not agree with all of JT's posted works, it is important to note that I (and many others) do not agree with all of the Saratogian's (and MSM et alia) reports either.

While the posts themselves might lead to scrutiny, the comments were most telling. Overall -- Saratoga in Decline as is this blog and all others are an invaluable asset to the community at large.

JT, as are you et alia, are truly invaluable 'eyes on the sky.' You guys, as well as Citizen Clancy & others are the eyes and ears for all of us looking for fresh, timely, unfiltered reporting of events pertinent to the current goings-on in our community.

The service these humble blogs provide is noble and necessary.

Be the true patriot!
Fear no one. Carry the torch of liberty and vigilance. Shine the light of journalism on the scoundrels and venomous cretins lapping at the door of honesty and integrity.

We readers are counting on you and all of you willing to expose the truth for the sake of the common good.

THIS is true journalistic reporting.
The true reporters in the field are the bloggers of today.

'And the little birds say tweet, tweet. And so it goes.' - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

We anxiously await your next posting, your next tweet.
Godspeed all.

Anonymous said...

Published in the TU in Feb 2012:

“Soares’ staff allowed Kristin Keeffe — one of Raniere’s top aides — to enter the DA’s office for several weeks, helping develop a case against O’Hara. She was allowed access because she worked for an organization that was an alleged victim of crime, Soares spokeswoman Heather Orth said.”

Hmm…a top aide (and let’s not forget lover and alleged baby mama) of Raniere was allowed into the DA’s office to investigate claims against one of its (now) enemies. Hmm…could you imagine if every alleged “victim” was allowed access to DA offices across the country?

A good conspiracy, by its very nature, is difficult to prove. A conspiracy where government is involved – at any level – especially at the highest levels, is even more difficult to prove. “Conspiracy theorist” is a label also used to specifically target those who it is used against to invoke in others images of a tin-foil wearing hat “madman” (or woman). In other words, it’s a deflective tactic. Simply labeling someone as a conspiracy “whackjob” or any other inflammatory negative term doesn’t render what they state as false.