Panetta Report 3: Leon Panetta and the Santa Cruz Socialists

New Zeal

Panetta Report 2 here.

It is now fairly well known that President Barack Obama enjoyed a close relationship with the socialists, Trotskyites and “former” communists, who made up the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America.

It is less well known that while a California Congressman, Obama’s Secretary of Defense nominee Leon Panetta also worked closely with Santa Cruz based members of the US’s largest Marxist organization.

Hugh DeLacy

A key point of contact was Hugh DeLacy, Panetta’s friend and correspondent from at least 1976, until his death in 1986. DeLacy was a long time Communist Party USA member who worked closely with members of the California Communist Party splinter group, who then went on to form the pro-Chinese New American Movement, which in turn joined with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee in 1982 to form Democratic Socialists of America.

Santa Cruz New American Movement, and later Democratic Socialists of America, effectively took over the Santa Cruz City Council after NAMers Mike Rotkin and Bruce Van Allen joined with DSOCers Mardi Wormhoudt and John Laird to form a majority on the Council in 1981.

Another local DSAer, former Trotskyite Gordon Haskell, served on the Santa Cruz Democratic Party Central Committee for many years, while several other comrades held senior posts in the local party.

On September 6, 1986, Leon Panetta addressed a memorial service for Hugh DeLacy at the Louden Nelson Center in Santa Cruz.

Mardi Wormhoudt

Some of the names on the list above indicate the circles that both DeLacy and Panetta were moving in at the time.

  • Presenter Mardi Wormhoudt was a member of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, who became a Santa Cruz City Councilmember in 1981 and went on to serve three terms as town Mayor. Wormhoudt, a supporter of Nicaragua’s Marxist-Leninist Sandinista regime, was a delegate on the Let Nicaragua Live Tour for the Coalition for Nicaragua in 1986. She was also a member of a 1987 Sister City Delegation to Alushta in the Soviet Union.
  • Jack Berman was a life long leftist activist, a veteran of the Communist Party led Independent Progressive Party and an affiliate of the New American Movement. In the 1960s, Berman worked with Hugh DeLacy in support of United Farmworkers founder Cesar Chavez – a disciple, like Barack Obama, of the Chicago based father of “community organizing’ Saul Alinsky.

John McTernan

Mike Rotkin

  • Mike Rotkin had been a member of Students for a Democratic Society. He later went on to become a leader of the New American Movement. Using community-organizing techniques developed by Saul Alinsky, Cesar Chavez, ACORN and Chicago’s Midwest Academy, Rotkin built up a power base on Santa Cruz’s West Side through agitation for a community health center in the area. In 1979, the Westside NAMers sought and obtained the endorsement of then Congressman Leon Panetta for their project. That support was re-affirmed in 1981. Rotkin used this power base to take over the Santa Cruz City Council, where he and his comrades used their power to pass such essential Council initiatives as calling for the withdrawal of all U.S. military and Economic aid to El Salvador and declaring Santa Cruz a nuclear free zone.

Leon Panetta was no stranger to the other speakers at DeLacy’s memorial – he had worked with them for years. When Panetta first entered Congress in 1976, his campaign included staffer Don Lane, a future DSAer and Santa Cruz Mayor.

John Laird

A member of Panetta’s campaign committee that year was John Laird, a Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee member and yet another future Santa Cruz Mayor.

Leon Panetta would later work closely with John Laird in a successful campaign to stop oil drilling off the California Coast. Laird was recently appointed California Secretary of Natural Resources by incoming leftist Governor Jerry Brown.

In the late 1970s, Hugh DeLacy was effectively the California agent for the Chicago based socialist journal In These Times, a project of the New American Movement and the far left “think tank,” the Institute for Policy Studies. Congressman Leon Panetta incidentally served on the Institute for policy Studies’ 20th Anniversary Celebrations Committee in 1983. In 1999, Barack Obama was himself summoned from Chicago to New York to help establish an I.P.S “partner” organization, the leftist non-profit Demos.

James Weinstein

In These Times was run by DeLacy’s friend, a former Communist and New American Movement founder named James Weinstein. In 2002, James Weinstein and his friends Carl Davidson and former NAMer Marilyn Katz, organized an anti-Iraq War rally in Chicago’s Federal Plaza. They invited a then obscure little known Illinois state Senator to speak. Barack Obama used the opportunity to rail against the War, making his first mark on the national stage. The rest is history.

All these connections are of course mere coincidence.

President Obama chose Leon Panetta to head the CIA and serve as Secretary of Defense (despite zero intelligence or military experience), because he was the best man in America for both jobs.

To think anything else would be paranoid… Possibly even racist.


Trevor Loudon, top researcher of the global neo-Marxist movement, administrates KeyWiki and NewZeal.

Mr. Loudon’s Obama Files articles are also listed at NewZeal.

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