Saturday, December 6, 2008

... a plague a' both your houses

On November 30, Susan Polgar distributed the following via the USCF BINFO system, in response to suggestions by Jim Eade and Harold Dondis that she ramp down the litigiousness.

Dear Jim and Mr. Dondis,

As I have said before, I pleaded with this board for MORE THAN 1 YEAR to leave me, my family, and my job alone. They refused. The USCF and each board member received a Cease and Desist letter from my attorney dated May 14, 2008 (which is many months before I filed the lawsuit). They ignored it. I even offered to end it prior to filing the lawsuit shortly before the Dallas Delegates Meeting. They ignored it again. Now the USCF is trying to go after me criminally.

What would you like me to do? What do you suggest? Do you think I enjoy being accused of being a child abuser, child molester, and a criminal? Do you think I enjoy having people calling the media and my employers to spread baseless and defamatory accusations? Do you think I enjoy having my kids, my friends, my family, and my employer read about all of these things on the Internet? Do you think I enjoy spending over $75,000 in legal fees from my own pocket to defend against absolute nonsense? Do you think I enjoy losing one business / sponsorship deal after another because of all the garbage on the Internet? And these are just some of the major damages I suffered so far.

It is not me who started this. I spent 35 years building my excellent reputation in chess and it took 1 year for the USCF to destroy it. If anyone can think of a way to resolve this amicably and to have my reputation fully restored then please feel free to suggest it. It is NOT me who want to prolong this. But as long as the USCF and its board members continue to go down this road, I have no choice but to defend myself and my family.

Instead of allowing me to bring U.S. chess and the USCF up another level, I had to waste more than a year with this nonsense. They left me with no choice. I will do everything possible to defend and protect myself, my family, and my job.

I offered the USCF and this board various ways to end this in each board meeting only to have my offers laughed at and ignored each time for more than one year. Unless the USCF backs off completely and leave me and my family alone, this cannot stop.

My offer to withdraw the lawsuit against the USCF still stands. All parties are welcome to contact my attorneys if they wish to settle and end this.

Best wishes,

Susan Polgar

The problem with all this is that the portions of her lawsuit which concern the USCF are utterly baseless. The USCF did not accuse her of being a child abuser or interfere with her sponsorship efforts. If Polgar objects to the USCF allowing others to criticize her, she should either lobby Congress to change the law, or move to a country that doesn’t have freedom of speech.

Conceivably Polgar might have a claim against some of the other named defendants. Brian Lafferty, Sam Sloan, and Jerry Hanken have certainly made defamatory statements about her, though whether she could win a libel case is another matter. But the inclusion of the USCF in her laundry list has no basis in fact – and even if it did, for her to sue the USCF while remaining on the Executive Board is simply unethical.

It is true that four of the EB members (and the ED) have harshly criticized Polgar’s husband Paul Truong, and sought (unsuccessfully) to mount a recall against him. I suspect that this is the real reason behind Polgar’s naming the USCF as a defendant. But, whether you agree with it or not, this was legitimate political discourse, and if you can’t take it, you have no business running for office.

This is not to say that I have much sympathy for the other side. They brought this on themselves, which is fine – and on us, which is not. The “Board majority,” led by Bill Goichberg, decided that they could use the “Fake Sam Sloan” controversy to lever Truong off the Board. At least some of them may have been acting out of sincere conviction that Truong’s actions (well, the actions of which he was accused) were unconscionable. Sincerity is overrated. They had an obligation as stewards of the USCF to consider what would happen if they failed. They did fail. Now we have live with it.


Steve in TN said...

Polgar's beginning sentence in her letter demonstrates, yet again, that she has no clue about what it means to run for and hold elected office.

That fact alone is enough to not have her on the EB.

James Stripes said...

I spent 35 years building my excellent reputation in chess and it took 1 year for the USCF to destroy it.

Tell Susan her reputation is intact. No accusations from the USCF will ever carry enough credibility to hurt. On the other hand, every word she utters about politics undermines her fine chess reputation. Her own lack of judgment is the principal culprit that she needs to go after.

She's a great chess player, and she does fine work promoting the game. In politics, however, she's a fool. I said as much on her blog last summer when she posted some harmless nonsense about American politics. If she's not careful, she'll soon get caught up in university politics. That will make the USCF look tame, for it is always most vicious when there is nothing at stake.