Affidavit of Chip Berlet — National Writers Union Lawsuit — Maltreatment of Rev. Kapya John Kaoma

Affidavit of Chip Berlet (John F. Berlet) in the matter of the National Writers Union lawsuit against Mr. Tarso Luís Ramos, Executive Director of Political Research Associates of Somerville, Massachusetts on behalf of his former employee,
the Rev. Kapya John Kaoma

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During my employment at Political Research Associates, Mr. Tarso Luís Ramos, as Executive Director of Political Research Associates, was, on a consistent and regular basis, willing to cross professional and ethical boundaries previously established by the founder, Jean V. Hardisty, Ph.D.

One of the first clues manifested itself during the first new research project Mr. Ramos assigned the staff of Political Research Associates (hereinafter “PRA”).

It was compiling information for an individual involved in electoral politics in New York. The senior staff objected to a project that put the Tax-Exempt status of PRA at risk. Mr. Ramos scoffed at that concern.

Another example was when Mr. Ramos insisted on picking the exact color of a print publication cover from his cellphone while on a train. This after being told that this was not possible, since color selection for graphic arts and printing by people not in the same room only could be done using a “Pantone Matching System” booklet printed with certified color samples at both ends. It could not be done by looking at the colors on two cellphone screens unless the two phones had previously and recently been calibrated for color balance.

Within a few weeks it became clear that Mr. Ramos was not going to be persuaded by any evidence or expertise offered by the staff.

Mr. Ramos was often just mean-spirited and a bully.

I was once told by Mr. Ramos that I had to participate in a conference call with another staff member while Mr. Ramos was at home late at night. After Mr. Ramos asked a series of questions, both I and the other staff member began answering the questions posed by Mr. Ramos. When we asked Mr. Ramos what he thought, the phone was silent…Mr. Ramos had gone to bed leaving his phone live while we were talking .

After a few months under Mr. Ramos as Executive Director, staff were regularly being forced to work overtime (up  to 60-70 hours per week) to meet the unreasonable deadlines promised to funders. When we complained, Mr. Ramos told us we needed to “step up” our commitment to PRA.

At one offsite strategy meeting Mr. Ramos berated a staff member until the staff member broke down into tears—sobbing that his marriage was under serious stress due to unreasonable work hours demanded by Mr. Ramos. In response Mr. Ramos told the weeping staff member that the staff member needed to “step up” his commitment to PRA.

While using the existence of the handicapped-accessible library/archive at Political Research Associates for fundraising purposes, Mr. Ramos turned the library/archive into a storage room, and it became inaccessible and unusable for all visitors.

While coordinating a major research project, I was forced to sit through a conference call with members of the board of directors of the funding foundation, while they objected to the conclusions in the report and demanded a rewrite. I refused as a matter of professional ethics and journalistic principles.

Mr. Ramos then hired, without consulting me, a “Managing Editor” who agreed under the direction of Mr. Ramos to make the changes demanded by the Board of Directors of the funding foundation.

Before the call I objected to Mr. Ramos and warned that such a call was unethical.

During the call, the funders objected to the conclusions in the report—conclusions justified by the field research of two professional researchers who carried out site visits at colleges and universities in several states.

I refused to make the changes demanded by the funding foundation board of directors.

Ramos then hired (without my knowledge or consent) a “managing editor” whose job it was to carry out the inappropriate and unethical demands of the foundation directors.

When I pushed back and objected to the changes being made by the new Managing Editor, Mr. Ramos said I would be fired if I did not agree to let the new Managing Editor make editorial decisions that conflicted with mine.

Whole sections of the report were then substantially altered or cut over my objections.

Ramos and the managing editor then decided unilaterally which appendices and online materials would appear on the PRA Website.

I was no longer in charge of the project and had no right to a final edit. The outcome was that the study published by PRA was censored by the funder for being too sympathetic to Muslims–and it was Mr. Ramos who carried out the censorship and revisions.

Over my objections my name was used as the overall author of the report.

While I was employed at PRA the treatment of Mr. Kaoma by Mr. Ramos became increasingly inappropriate, disrespectful, and abusive. When I and other staff members (both individually and collectively) complained to Mr. Ramos that such behavior toward any staff was inappropriate, Mr. Ramos told us to “back off.”

Based on information and belief, I have learned that the Board of Directors of Political Research Associates, and its Executive Director, Mr. Ramos, are influenced by what I consider to be a political cult based on the work of the late Noel Ignatiev, a brilliant and respected scholar and activist, who undoubtedly would object to such inappropriate adoration. This in part may explain the shameful treatment of the Reverend Kapya J. Kaoma by Mr. Tarso Luis Ramos.

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The affiant, Chip Berlet (John F. Berlet), has nothing further to add to this document at this time….