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“IT SHOWS THAT YOU CAN GET THEIR ATTENTION”
by Sharon Rondeau, h/t Gary Wilmott
(Jul. 10, 2014) — On Wednesday, blogger and reader of The Post & Email Gary Wilmott contacted us to advise that he received a most unexpected phone call from the Chief Executive Officer of Costco, a wholesale buyers’ club with several levels of membership and a national presence.
Wilmott had called Costco’s executive offices after reading an article by Dr. Jerome Corsi which reported that Costco had removed copies of Dinesh D’Souza’s book “America” from its shelves “nationwide.”
D’Souza produced a DVD entitled “2016: Obama’s America” during the 2012 campaign cycle. A new movie, “America: Imagine the World Without Her” was produced by Lionsgate and launched in approximately 700 theaters on July 1 and 1000 theaters on July 2. A movie trailer can be viewed here.
D’Souza, who was born in India and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, said that he was “stunned” to discover that Costco had removed his book from its inventory, stating, “the book had sold very well at the chain and that my movie of the same name was releasing on over 1,000 screens the very next day. Today, I am disappointed to learn that this news has been confirmed by Costco. This action confirms the suspicions of all freedom-loving Americans and is a direct attack on my livelihood which I take very seriously.”
On Thursday, D’Souza reposted an article from The Hollywood Reporter which stated that Google search engine results for locations to view “America” since its launch on July 1 were faulty and that Google said that “it will take some time to display showtimes and other details for this movie.”
A Facebook page supporting D’Souza’s new book and movie suggested to readers that Costco should “Imagine a world without customers” and urged potential customers to buy the book at another store and cancel their Costco memberships.
D’Souza has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s policies and was the subject of a federal grand jury indictment earlier this year for allegations of “arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the U.S. Senate.” The office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Manhattan issued a statement that it approached “corruption of the electoral process” with a “zero tolerance” policy.
The Obama campaign was reported by many eyewitness observers to have coerced, cheated, and commandeered votes for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 caucuses to be cast for Obama, whose political and life history was not well-known.
Corsi reported that Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal is an Obama supporter. The website WatchdogWire reported that Sinegal held a $5,000-a-head fundraiser at his home during the 2012 campaign at which reporters were not permitted to ask Obama any questions.
Wilmott told The Post & Email that he is “a big Costco customer” and that he was troubled by the impression that Costco might have removed D’Souza’s book from its stores for political reasons.
“He is a big Obama donor,” Wilmott told us of Sinegal after reading Corsi’s article. “I’d seen him interviewed, and it was my understanding that he had spoken at the 2012 Democrat National Convention. He’s 78 years old and a very successful businessman. He lives in an 8,500-square-foot home on Hunts Point in Lake Washington, just a short drive away from Costco headquarters. Capitalism has served him very well; he’s had a wonderful life, but for some inexplicable reason, he embraces the policies of Marxist, socialist, communist Obama, whose policies are being very detrimental to this country, in view, are designed to destroy this country economically, socially, culturally, and to threaten our security. So I decided to call Costco headquarters three nights ago. It was after hours, but in the same time zone. They ask you, “Do you know your party’s extension?” and of course, I didn’t know for a fact that James Sinegal has an extension there at headquarters. After all, he is a retired CEO and c0-founder. But sure enough, I selected his name and got his voice mail with his voice. He probably maintains an office at the headquarters and probably goes in there periodically and does business there; even though he’s retired, he’s on the Board of Directors.
I went into about a three-minute rant. I lambasted him right and left and chastised him in a very direct manner. I made very pointed statements. I mentioned his name periodically, and I pointed out the fact that he’s had a very successful life as a capitalist, and I criticize him for his position. I was very angry about the fact that the book had been pulled, and I told him that he needed to return the book to the shelves of Costco and that Americans had the right to hear the viewpoint of Mr. Dinesh D’Souza.
After about three minutes of ranting, I got a prompt on my message that said I was running out of time, so I wrapped it up. I openly stated, “I challenge you to call me back,” and I left my name and phone number.
When I got off the phone, my older son said, “Oh, my goodness, I have never, ever heard you leave a message like that anywhere.” And I said, “Was I rude?” “No.” “Was I angry?” “Well, yeah, you were angry, but you were passionate.” I said, “Did I say anything wrong?” and he said, “No, absolutely not.” He said, “That was an extremely powerful message that you left.” He was stunned. I said, “Do you think he’ll listen to it?” and my son said, “Yeah, I think he’ll listen to it because he’ll want to know who the messenger is.” So I said, “OK, that’s fine; at least I’ve given him my two cents, and it was passionate and powerful, so I’ve done my deed.”
A little after 5:00 p.m., I’m usually at home. The phone rang, and I answered the phone, and the man on the other end said, “I’m Craig Jelinek. I’m the CEO of Costco.”
The guy that I left the message was the retired CEO and co-founder, but the guy who called me is the current CEO, the man who runs the company. I can only surmise that Mr. Sinegal from the luxury of his beautiful estate either checks his voice mail remotely or drives in occasionally or even every day. He’s a legend at Costco. So he either checked his voice mail remotely or went into his office and checked it. This is speculation on my part, but Sinegal probably buzzed Sinegal and said, “Come on over to my office and listen to this.”
I’m not the only person who probably called corporate headquarters, because already the buzz was going around the nation and people were upset. But I was probably one of the most compelling calls, and also I gave a perspective as to who I was and how I knew a lot about Obama. I’m thinking to myself, “Sinegal and Jelinek probably re-listened to the message and said, “Here’s the name of a guy, amongst others; you need to call this list of people and straighten them out, because we have to put out some fires.”
So this guy called me and he was very nice. I talked to him for at least 15, maybe 20 minutes. He started it off by saying, “Mr. Wilmott, the issue with the book is a mistake by Costco. The book was withdrawn for business decisions only. We are not a political company. We sell books of all different political persuasions, and I said, “Yes, you do, because I like looking at the books at Costco, and I’ve bought them there.” He said, “We put that book there weeks ago, and it’s not been selling.” In his monologue, he covered one of the loopholes that I was going to jump into when he said they pulled the book because it wasn’t selling. I was thinking to myself, “You idiots, there’s a movie coming out.” They pulled the book the day before the movie came out. Wouldn’t they think that the book wasn’t going to see an increase in sales?” Once he said, “We messed up big-time. Somebody made the decision to pull the book and we started shipping them back, and then we realized the movie was out,” it sounded pretty fishy. He then said, “We’ve been doing this a long time; it’s very seldom that we make a big mistake like this.”
I thought to myself, It sounds kind-of reasonable I got a chance to speak to him about a lot of issues, about what’s going on in the country, about Obama, and he listened. But he wanted to make it very clear that Jim Sinegal’s opinions are not the positions of the corporation itself and that Jim Sinegal’s the one who made the donations and rubbed shoulders with Obama. Jim Sinegal has been seen in Costcos with Obama and has had fundraisers at his home, so impression is everything. You can’t get away from that.
I said, “If your story is correct, then I’ve kind-of jumped the gun a bit and assumed from what was in the WND article was that the move was political. He agreed that they’ve had a firestorm of people calling and complaining, and it’s made a nightmare for them. So I’m not the only one who had that impression. What happened was I got to talk to him and I told him to go see the movie, and he said he would. As the conversation was wrapping up, he said, “Just so you know that we’re not a left-leaning company, Dr. Ben Carson is on the Board of Directors.” And I said, “That’s very interesting” along with the retired CEO and co-founder, Mr. Sinegal, so you have two contrasting political viewpoints on the Board of Directors.
So I posted an article on my blog and researched the Board of Directors, and sure enough, Ben Carson is on the Board of Directors. So I felt fairly comfortable that the story I was getting was the straight scoop. Since then, since I was fortunate enough to be one of probably a select number of people that the CEO actually called and invested time with, I was more intrigued to do more research about the story. I started reading all the articles on the internet, and it was interesting how some articles just stated as fact that it was a political move – bad journalism. Those are the kinds of articles that poisoned the well, so to speak, that made people get angry and call Costco and say they were giving up their membership. I also looked at hundreds of comments at the bottom of articles, and they were very negative to Costco. Many people did not believe the story. By then, Fox had contacted Costco, who had said that they’d put the books back in the story. I was personally told that by the CEO before that ever appeared on TV, “We messed up, and we have a recall on all the books, and you should see them back in the stores in 6-10 days.” He said, “We’ve told all stores that if they haven’t shipped the books back yet not to ship them and put them back out for sale right away, and that all other books that are being sent back to the distributors are to be resent to Costco.
The Post & Email then complimented Wilmott on his “investigative journalism,” to which he responded, “It’s not only because I called; it was the tone of my call. I think there was a perception in my particular call that I was so passionate and that I was so connected to the issue, and somebody wanted to put out the fire that Gary Wilmott started.” I’m sure they got dozens of other calls…’I’m Mary Smith, and I’ve been going to Costco for 14 years, and you guys are bad, bad people…’ but my call was much more substantive and much more passionate.”
Wilmott said that many home furnishings and other items in his home are from Costco and that he believes he has saved a significant amount of money over grocery stores.
“I posted the account on my blog. The fact of the matter is that it shows that you can get their attention,” Wilmott said.
D’Souza’s attorneys have claimed that his prosecution for allegedly using “straw donors” to support a Republican congressional candidate was “politically-motivated.”