Lyndon LaRouche Jr., the Loudoun-based political extremist and conspiracy theorist who ran for president in every election from 1976 to 2004—including once from his federal prison cell—died Feb. 12 at the age of 96.
LaRouche’s political action committee, which promotes his efforts to overhaul the world’s economic and financial systems, described him as a “philosopher, scientist, poet, statesman, [and] economist.”
“Those who knew and loved Lyndon LaRouche know that humanity has suffered a great loss and, today, we dedicate ourselves anew to bring to reality the big ideas for which history will honor him,” the PAC stated on its website.
LaRouche first ran for president as a U.S. Labor Party candidate in 1976, coming in last place among 11 candidates on the ballot that year with 40,000 votes nationwide. His most successful campaign came in 1984 running as an independent when he garnered 78,809votes to finish in fourth place. He ran as the candidate for the National Economic Recovery Party in 1988 and 1992. In 1996, 2000 and 2004, LaRouche campaigned in the primaries for the Democratic nomination. Despite garnering enough primary votes to win some delegates, the Democratic National Committee blocked LaRouche’s participation in its national conventions because, as a convicted felon, he was not an eligible voter in his home state, Virginia. During the 2016 election, the LaRouchePAC urged supporters to write in Lyndon LaRouche, along with signer of the U.S. Constitution Alexander Hamilton as the vice-presidential choice.
LaRouche was born in Rochester, NH, and grew up in Quaker family in Lynn, MA. He gained an interest in Marxism while serving in the U.S. Army with a medical unit in India and Burma during World War II. Upon his return from duty, he joined the Socialists Workers Party and began a lifetime of political activism. In the early 1970s, he established the National Caucus of Labor Committee, which clashed with the SWP and the Communist Party and launched the U.S. Labor Party.
In 1983, LaRouche moved his organization from New York to Leesburg, setting up offices on South King Street and moving to the nearby Woodburn estate, which was secured by armed guards as he feared assassination.
In October 1986, state and federal officers raided LaRouche offices in Virginia and Massachusetts, and a federal grand jury indicted LaRouche and 12 associates on credit card fraud and obstruction of justice. The organization was accused of defrauding people of millions of dollars, including several elderly residents. In 1988, LaRouche was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud involving more than $30 million in defaulted loans; 11 counts of actual mail fraud involving $294,000 in defaulted loans; and one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. He was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, but was released in 1994.
Among his many conspiracy theories, LaRouche claimed the raid and conviction were orchestrated by the Soviet Union. Other frequent claims included that the International Monetary Fund was engaged in mass murder by spreading AIDS through its economic policies, that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Vice President Walter Mondale were Soviet agents of influence and that the queen of England was involved in the drug trade.
The cult-like nature of LaRouche’s organization was a source of frequent friction with local political and business leaders. As a result, perceived enimies were often targeted in LaRouche publications, with Leesburg Mayor Frank Raflo and County Chairman George Barton as popular targets. Before entering politics, Barton was the editor of the Loudoun Times-Mirror, which conducted prize-winning investigations into the LaRouche operations. Not even the Leesburg Garden Club, which opposed a land use development plan by the organization, was immune. LaRouche described them as”these clacking busybodies in this Soviet jellyfish front sitting here in Leesburg oozing out their funny little propaganda making nuisances of themselves.”