The Occupy DC movement has descended into a swirl of bitter charges and counter-charges, with an organizer answering allegations of theft with the claim that operatives connected with Van Jones and with MoveOn.org are conducting a smear campaign against him.
Kevin Zeese, a longtime activist on the left and former executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has been accused by other occupiers of stealing money from the Occupy movement.
"What we've seen is that there's no transparency with where the money is going, so we're leaning towards a worst-case scenario," said DC occupier Tony Zilka, who told BuzzFeed that Zeese and his girlfriend Margaret Flowers are "ghosts" around the encampment at Freedom Plaza and have taken their names off the camping permit.
An account called Defend Wall St on Twitter alleged that Zeese "takes camp's money and runs away with his girlfriend."
Zeese says that the movement actually owes him around $4,000 and that he's already donated $25,000 to Occupy through a donor, and that "if we are thieves, we are certainly unusual thieves."
But Zeese doesn't believe that the accusations are just coming from other occupiers. He told BuzzFeed that "a lot of these attacks on us came after we started to call out Democratic operatives that tried to take control of the movement."
To back this up, Zeese sent us a number of links accusing Van Jones -- a green jobs activists pushed out of the Obama Administration amid a controversy over his past radical statements -- his and MoveOn.org of trying to co-opt Occupy, e.g. Van Jones can't occupy us and Occupy Movement tells MoveOn: Back Off!
"We are up against very powerful foes who know how to destroy movements," Zeese said. "Divide people from those who have shown leadership is a key tactic."
Neither Van Jones nor representatives from MoveOn.org were immediately available for comment.
Jones has been a supporter of the Occupy movement, saying in the fall that "We are going to build a progressive balance of power to the Tea Party."
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at email@example.com.
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