Dear Peggy; re: Matt Cooper & #AoFDebacle

Dear Peggy,

This is an answer to your Facebook post, screenshot copied here:

Peggy re Cooper


There was a time that I too liked and, more importantly, trusted Mr. Cooper.  In fact, I trusted him enough to tutor (SAT test taking) my then 17 y/o daughter at his home.  He sat on the Financial Oversight Committee (FOC) meeting on September 11, 2011, along with Ed “Golly” Gollobith and Joe Reinhardt (two other people who I also liked and trusted), and approved an $18,000 disbursement to EllenBeth Wachs’ legal fund.  

That is a fact of reality as factual as my having typed this comment. 

But all that affinity and trust went totally south on November 6, 2011, when he orchestrated, with Mr. Gollobith’s help, a coup to oust EllenBeth and me from Atheists of Florida.  And why would Mr. Cooper be motivated to do such: because he was livid that ElllenBeth, who at the time was the Acting President (I had stepped down in anticipation of my upcoming “Polk school board” trial), had removed him as Chapter Director of the AoF Tampa Chapter, and, concomitantly, as an AoF Board Member. Mr. Cooper had also forgotten to submit his nomination in time as a candidate for the upcoming AoF Board of Directors election.  These, too, are facts.

And Mr. Gollobith, his necessary co-conspirator in the coup, believed, as a result of EllenBeth’s recommended slate of candidates (which did not include Mr. Gollobith), that there was a real chance that he would not win reelection — or at least lose control of the organization that he apparently thought of not as a nonprofit corporation, but as a sort of private company that he owned and operated with subordinate “yes-men.”     

I would find out recently in one of my discovery requests made from one of six ensuing lawsuits resulting from this debacle that Mr. Cooper had conspired with Gollobith to meet with an attorney to seize control away from EllenBeth’s  acting presidency, writing to Mr. Gollobith nine days prior to his Nov. 6 coup (these are Mr. Cooper’s exact words copied and pasted here, including misspelling my name):

“Can the election now underway be stopped?  How? Can EllenBeth Wachs be removed as Acting President and Vice President?  How? Can John Keiffer be removed as President? How? Can they be removed from the Board?   How? Can EllenBeth Wachs be removed from the organization? How? … If election is rerun fairly and Wachs and Keiffer are reelected to the new board due to their fame, isn’t the organization back where we are now? … A breakdown of board member loyalties is attached.  What is benefit or risk to sharing the election chronology document with any of them (none really know the whole story)?  Allies? Unknowns?  Is there a legal risk to sharing this document with others?”

What it was apparently decided upon just days prior to the Nov.  6, 2011, board meeting/coup that something truly scurrilous would have had to be told to just enough of those “loyal” trusting board members to vote EllenBeth and me out of our executive positions with a follow up “Expulsion Committee” meeting with two of those duped board members to expel us as members.  (That would keep us from running and winning back our board seats).  They decided to secretly tell these select “loyal” board members that the FOC, which Mr. Cooper, Gollobith and Reinhardt sat on, never approved that $18,000 disbursement to EllenBeth’s legal fund and implicating both she and me in an unauthorized expenditure, which, BTW, Gollobith has recently upped to “Civil Theft” demanding treble (3x) damages ($54,000) plus attorney’s fees from both EllenBeth and me. 

Normally, FOC business, such as the $18K disbursement approval, and other financial reports would have been reported and discussed at the next board meeting (which would have been Nov 6, 2011).  However, two days prior, Mr. Gollobith (in his capacity as AoF Chairman) changed the meeting agenda removing any FOC or other financial reports and placed only one agenda item: “Removal of Officers.”

At the meeting, I had absolutely no idea what the issues were that could possibly motivate the board to remove officers and, when the Motion was made by Mr. Gollobith to do such, I asked for discussions prior to voting to flush out and understand what the issue/s was/were.   It was Mr. Cooper who then “called the question” (meaning, to prohibit discussion) and Mr. Gollobith proceeded with the pre-planned, orchestrated vote to oust us as officers without ANY discussion that I, EllenBeth and Rob Curry were demanding. 

That day (Nov 6), an email, composed in part by Mr. Cooper on Nov 2, was sent to all our AoF members, including you:

 From: Atheists Board [] Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2011 5:05 PM To: Subject: Change of Leadership at Atheists of Florida

Dear Atheists of Florida Supporter,

This message is to inform you that the Board of Directors of the Atheists of Florida met earlier today.  As a result of recent developments, the Board voted to remove EllenBeth Wachs as Vice President, and to remove John Kieffer as President of the Organization.  Please be aware that they no longer speak for the Atheists of Florida, and are not authorized to use Atheists of Florida mailing lists.  Additionally, both have been expelled from the membership for seriously obstructing the organization’s business, misappropriating the organization’s name, misappropriating the organization’s funds, and acting in a way that discredits the organization.

 Moreover, Steve Brown, who was one of the two board members of what we knew all along to have been a sham “Expulsion Committee” event on that day (which Mr. Gollobith has reported to have been composed by he, Mr. Brown and Steve Miles), stated at a recent deposition in reference to the Expulsion Complaint, which alleged the 18K misappropriation.  Steve Brown, under oath, testified:

“As I recall, Matt Cooper gave me something he wanted me to read. I read it and was asked to sign it. I didn’t disagree with — as this may not be exactly what I read. I signed it. I later went over to Mr. Cooper and expressed my sadness that he put me in this position and that I would never want to be put in this position again signing something that I didn’t know exactly its purpose. So he had lost a portion of my trust as of that meeting because of that. I don’t like being used that way.”

If it had been made clear to me that what I was signing was an eviction notice, I very likely would not have signed or asked for revision of this document.”

[Steve Brown, transcript from deposition taken under oath, Dec. 13, 2013]

STEVE BROWN - case # 11-CA-015f45


Again, these are all facts.  Each and every one of them.

So Peggy, how would you feel about Mr. Cooper if he had done this to you?  Can you understand why EllenBeth and Rob feel how they do about him?  And can you understand why I join them in composing this letter to you?




About John Kieffer

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