Andrew’s recent post about OA finances seems targeted toward undermining the support I’ve received from listeners. OA Patreon is down 3000+ patrons and counting. The overwhelming evidence from audience and patron feedback shows that Andrew should step aside, as was previously agreed to. Based on the immense supply of publicly available evidence, patrons are voting with their wallets and telling him loud and clear that they don’t support what he’s doing, and do not want to financially support an admitted creep and alleged sexual predator. That, and not anything I’m doing or saying, is what is responsible for the OA Patreon decline. Some of those patrons, about 1000, decided to pledge to the Serious Inquiries Only Patreon. I am so eternally grateful for that. Your support is vital to me and my family right now, as we face down a potentially prolonged legal battle against a better resourced adversary, who is himself an attorney. Honestly, I’m a little terrified at this disadvantage, and my biggest fear is an unjust outcome brought on entirely by financial causes. Our audience is likely aware of how quickly legal bills can skyrocket.
To debunk some specific claims – first off, I absolutely never said that Andrew has “taken all the profits of our joint Opening Arguments bank account.” I have stated the truth: Andrew locked me out of all the OA accounts. When I saw him start to execute this plan, I had mere moments, and I was in an absolute confused panic. I tried to issue an SOS as fast as I could. In that, I believe I wrote “he’s stealing everything” by which I meant he’s taking away my access to all the accounts for the business and the podcast. I know I didn’t mean the bank because I hadn’t yet checked that. Perhaps this is how he is justifying his statement? That seems a far cry from “Thomas has stated that I have taken all the profits of our joint Opening Arguments bank account for myself.” In my update on SIO, I said that I do not have access to the Patron page and do not have control over where he routes that money in the future. These are facts.
Andrew’s seizure of the business and podcast by force was incredibly sudden and terrifying. In addition to everything else, I was very worried about being deprived of my paycheck. Podcasting, due to the nature of our business model, pays monthly. Andrew’s forceful takeover just so happened to be right when Patreon funds from the previous month became available, which is when we do our normal monthly distribution. This has always been our pattern and practice, as bank records dating back years could confirm. So, if he locked me out and I couldn’t get to my money, it will have been a full month since I last got paid, with absolutely no ability for me to access funds going forward. What he says about funds set aside for “promotional purposes” is a half-truth. Recently I had been pushing us to buy advertisements on other podcasts to try to grow our show. I also, after pushing for quite a while, had decided that I was going to hire someone to help me, as I am overworked to death with all the production work for a 4 episode a week schedule, in addition to managing virtually all the business and accounting side of Opening Arguments Media. For those reasons, we had quite a bit of money set aside. But as soon as I got wind of an article coming out, not knowing what exactly would be in it or what would happen, I sent Andrew this:
Here is Andrew agreeing that we’re pausing the idea, and that we need a safety net in case “some shit happens.” I don’t think I need to tell you all that some shit did, in fact, happen. Notice also I say, “I’m going to pause the idea…” This is because the normal course of OA business is that I control the business side almost entirely, but I of course still run things by him for consent. The ad spend was solely my idea, and I was the only one communicating with the ad agency about it. In light of what was coming, though, there was no chance I was going to spend any money on advertising this show before even knowing if we still had a show to advertise.
So when I was being locked out of all the accounts and saw I still had bank access, I did a transfer of my half of what was in our account, less the $5,000 we always leave in the account in case of emergencies and to protect from overdraft. [Some reddit sleuths have already taken advantage of the less than stellar redaction on the screenshot to puzzle this out.] This has been our pattern and practice for years. Each month, I do my accounting and then I send Andrew’s wife a number, which is the amount she can transfer out of the account for his share each month. Andrew knows all of this. He knows that I know he knows all of this. Even in the panic of that moment, I triple checked my math to make sure I wasn’t taking anything I wasn’t due. My math was correct. Doesn’t this seem pretty reasonable if you were being locked out of your own company with no idea for how long?
I have also seen it claimed that my bank transfer happened before I lost access to the other accounts. This is just not true. Andrew’s own screenshot shows this transfer happened on the 6th, the same day I was locked out of all the other accounts. It doesn’t include a timestamp. I’m actually not sure how anyone would know the exact timing of all these events. I admit, I don’t even know the precise order in which everything happened, because Andrew purposefully executed it all at once and for me it was pure chaos. But I do know that when I saw I was getting locked out of everything, I tried to fight back for a while, was ultimately unsuccessful, and then got really worried about money for the reasons stated above. That’s when I initiated the transfer. Not only that, but even if my transfer did precede everything… and I want to be perfectly clear, it did not. I’m just arguing in the alternative. Even if my transfer came first, this was our normal timeframe that we withdraw the money from the previous month anyway… So… this STILL would not justify stealing the company.
I am extremely glad I made the decision to withdraw this money, because immediately after that, I was locked out of the bank account. When I went into my branch the next day, they said Andrew had somehow not just removed my online access, but had removed me from the bank account entirely, despite Secretary of State records still clearly indicating I own 50% of the company. The person at the bank was able to re-add me to the account and was not totally sure how Andrew got someone to remove me. We’re still looking into it. Andrew also removed my access to the OA Foundation bank account, despite it having no connection whatsoever to this feud, and despite me being the Treasurer, and without any board meeting or notice to the board at all. My access to this account has not been restored, due to the difference in business structure there. Another reason I’m very glad I withdrew my half of the money is because most of it went immediately into a legal retainer.
Some more context on the number – I’ve already told you about the additional saved money that was in the account. But also, this money represents gross revenue. OA is a passthrough entity, so it pays no major taxes. OA also has no retirement/401k or healthcare or anything. So, money we get distributed is gross, and I pay into my own retirement and hold money for quarterly taxes. As such, these large expenditures happen downstream after the money is out of the OA account.
Andrew also says, “I have not taken any money out of this account since this situation began to unfold, and all pre-existing show expenses have come out of my own pocket.” First off, he is certainly entitled to withdraw the same amount I did any time, as we always have done. But also, all regular show expenses will, unless Andrew has made some changes, auto-debit from our account. That is because, once again, I set them all up because I always have been in charge of the business and accounting side. The only other expenses there would be, to my knowledge, would be him hiring other people to continue to publish Opening Arguments without my permission. For example, paying Liz or any other guest co-host, and paying an editor and/or producer, and anyone else he needs to hire. It seems to me this should come out of his pocket because it isn’t a valid OA expense. I do not consent to him continuing to publish the show in this form.
Finally, as to my family’s financial situation, if not for the ominous feeling of potentially endless legal fights, we would be fine. The very kind patrons who have pledged to SIO have provided the support we need to carry on and not miss any mortgage, car, daycare, tax, etc. payments, assuming the support remains ongoing. Again, we are beyond grateful for this and we know we are so lucky to have it. I intend to revitalize SIO and hope to give them a reason to continue supporting that show beyond just good will. However, I am extremely worried about how much this legal battle is going to cost. Andrew is a lawyer. I am not. It seems like he has a massive advantage there. In the past few weeks, I’ve really seen how quickly legal bills can get astronomical. I cannot allow Andrew to win by bullying me into submission with overwhelming legal costs. I’m doing everything I can to try to be ready for that. Lydia and I appreciate your ongoing support SO much, I can’t even express it. Thank you.