[9 min read] 10 Things That Are Wrong With That “LAXSOUP Kickstarter Story”

By: Andrew Londre

In “(CORRECTIONS, CONTEXT & UPDATES) La Crosse SOUP founder redirected civic improvement funds I examined an article published by the La Crosse Tribune in 2016 — an article which I was the central focus of, which made me look terrible, and which was completely wrong, and which continues to cause great harm to me and my family.

The gist of the Tribune’s original story was this:

Again, this characterization is almost 100% wrong — as was the rest of their story.

Below are 🔟 of the most significant ways that story is wrong.

I have asked the Tribune to correct the story and have offered loads of evidence, but their editor refuses.

Unfortunately, when a publication refuses to acknowledge or correct their mistakes — even when those mistakes have dire consequences on people’s lives — the affected person is left with few options.

So, I sought to add important context and updates to the story, bring significant new information to light, correct the record on critical untruths and mischaracterizations… myself.

Believing that it would be best to, “Get it all out there” / “Get it all on the table” I left no stone unturned and pointed out every issue within the Tribune’s original article and supplied a great deal of evidence to support what I was saying.

However, my exhaustive approach made for an exhaustive (40-min) read.

So, while the response to my longer piece has been positive, I was also repeatedly asked to and encouraged to create a “Speed Read” brief version of my longer piece that would focus on the “most important stuff” instead of “all the stuff” — so, that’s what I have done here.

Here it is: The 🔟 most important takeaways you will find in my longer Medium post.

1. 💵 I moved the funds at issue only in order to support the three businesses featured in the show NOT owned by me.

I did NOT move these funds in order to benefit myself as suggested by the Tribune.

By the time these funds were moved, I was the only one who had raised my share of funds needed to fund the La Crosse segment of the show; I DID NOT NEED any of these funds. However, the other entrepreneurs did; the other entrepreneurs “needed more time” but the show’s producers said they “needed more money.” So, (in a move I now obviously regret) I tried to buy some extra time for the other three businesses — none of whom appear to have been asked to be a part of the Tribune’s original story — to raise their share of funds needed for the shows production, by using the long-unused Kickstarter funds as a loan that would be promptly paid back.

2. 💵 It was always my intention these funds be treated as a LOAN — meaning, that it was always meant to have been TEMPORARY. It was my hope, and clearly stated position — long before the Tribune’s reporting — that the Kickstarter funds be returned to the account from which they came ASAP and used for student-led projects.

In fact, on August 23, 2016 (several months before the Tribune’s reporting) I sent an email, to all the entrepreneurs who were to be featured in the show, that said the funds, which would eventually be at issue in the Tribune’s reporting, were “just a loan from LAXSOUP.”

Unfortunately, the heat produced by the Tribune’s reporting and lurid social media gossip found me going to great lengths to simply put the fire out and make things right; unfortunately, my efforts to put out the fire backfired and ended up making the movement of these funds permanent…

When the events reached their fever pitch, I got a loan of $8,500 (the amount that was moved) and offered it all to the educator that was working with the students for which the funds were first raised. Unfortunately, while she told the Tribune she wanted these funds available to her and her students — even though she supported the movement of her students funds and knew the movement was only meant to be temporary — she promptly refused the funds the moment I offered them to her at my own expense.

Once my offer was refused, there was nothing I could responsibly/reasonably do to get the students those funds. So, I thought the next best thing to do would be to ask all the donors to the Kickstarter campaign if they wanted their money back. And, everyone who said they DID want their money back got their money back. Unfortunately, my attempt to correct the situation and take responsibility for offering and returning donor funds was an important update and component of this story that was never published by the Tribune.

Also unfortunate, since the featured entrepreneurs for whom these funds were benefiting never contributed any of their own funds towards the show, even after the show aired with them in it, I ended up absorbing all the debt related to that $8,500 loan, on top of all of my own person funds which I contributed towards the show’s production.

3. ⌚ Why Now? Why did I wait until NOW to say something? The truth is, I haven’t waited until Now to say SOMETHING.

I have tried to get the Tribune to correct their story numerous times and in a number of ways over the course of the last 2+ years — including, most recently, spending close to five hours with Tribune staff, and meeting one on one with the paper’s editor.

Using the Medium platform in the way that I have was the last option I could conceive of after having given the Tribune ample time to correct their work, for people who were involved in the story to correct what they could, and after having exhausted all other options I could possibly think of.

I have been trying, for — literally — years to get the full story out. Unfortunately, I don’t own a huge newspaper or have well connected and powerful friends, and can’t afford to hire my own PR team.

But, I still have my voice. And, I have the comfort of knowing that what I am saying is true. And that’s why I am willing to say it.

4. 👮 The individual who stated (incorrectly) on Facebook that I committed a crime (which, one of the nation’s “Top 100 Trial Attorneys” told me was almost certainly a crime in and of itself on his part) is actually a person with a serious criminal background spanning two decades and two states. Their criminal record includes charges and guilty pleas to serious crimes like Battery, Possession of a Switchblade, as well as Larceny (theft of personal property), Theft in the 2nd & 3rd Degree, as well other crimes like drunk driving (charged on two separate occasions), 3rd Degree Criminal Mischief, disorderly conduct, and drug possession.

See court records below 👇

HD VERSIONS OF WISCONSIN COURT RECORDS CAN BE VIEWED HERE: https://srv2.zoomable.ca/viewer.php?i=img19c4814af8bf4d0d_wisconsincharges
HD VERSIONS OF ALASKA COURT RECORDS CAN BE VIEWED HERE: https://srv2.zoomable.ca/viewer.php?i=imge424d7d1238150ab_alaska3charges

5. 🤥 This individual, an actual criminal, who eventually — somehow — became the Tribune’s core source of their story, lied on Facebook and to the Tribune — and thereby lied to the public — about their true identity, while accusing me of lying to the public about my motives and my morality — probably because his real identity shows him to be the furthest thing from a reliable source one could imagine.

How this kind of person passed for a credible source to the Tribune is astounding. How the Tribune’s editor can justify the continued concealment of this information from the public is unconscionable.

6. 🚫 The Tribune’s article wrongly suggested I engaged in financial self-dealing when they incorrectly stated that I benefited “my own business” by moving thousands of dollars in funds which I raised for civic improvement projects in order to put those funds towards a Kickstarter project to produce a show called, “Ambitious Adventures” that would highlight the City of La Crosse and four small businesses owned by young people, including me.

6A — The funds at issue in the Tribune’s reporting, were NOT used to benefit my own business.

6A.1 — As previously mentioned, I moved the funds with the clearly expressed intention that their movement only be temporary (“just a loan from LAXSOUP”).

6A.2 — Also, as previously mentioned, I moved the funds only in order to support the three businesses featured in the show NOT owned by me.

6B — The funds at issue in the Tribune’s reporting, were NOT used to benefit my own business because I did not own a business at that time.

I mistakenly placed my trust in a “business partner” who told me they had incorporated our business as a partnership, but who actually incorporated our business as a sole-proprietor; a person who told the Tribune months earlier that we were in fact “partners” but then said nothing when I began to be raked over the coals by the public and the Tribune for supposedly using “civic improvement funds” to benefit myself (which is untrue in its own right) by way of benefiting “my business” (our supposed business) when they (my partner) knew the whole time that the story was built on the false pretense that I was a part owner of a business they knew I was never a part owner of.

7. 💬 The Tribune quotes a local university faculty member — who I had worked with on the students projects for which the funds were initially raised to be used by — in ways that suggest that the faculty member was completely unaware of the movement of these funds. In truth, they were entirely aware and supportive of the movement of funds and that the funds were being moved only temporarily — at least at the time the funds were moved. My best guess is that in the chaos that followed the Tribune’s publication of this story, and when their employer was allegedly making it clear that their job was in danger, that she unintentionally gave inaccurate — though, incredibly harmful — information to the Tribune.

IF ON DESKTOP CLICK “SHOW EMBED” TO SEE TEXTS SHOWING THE FACULTY MEMBER’S SUPPORT OF USING STUDENT SOUP FUNDS TO TEMPORARILY ASSIST IN PAYING FOR THE TV SHOW’S PRODUCTION /// OR /// CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO SEE THE FULL TEXT EXCHANGE IN ONE IMAGE FILE: http://bit.ly/32qLwid

8. 🔥 The Tribune’s initial reporting was irresponsible, inaccurate, oversimplified, careless, misleading, incomplete, and comes nowhere near the industry standards laid out by the Society of Professional Journalists in their Code of Ethics.

9. 📰 The Tribune’s choice to publish the initial story showed a serious lack of editorial control; worse, their refusal — which continues to this day — to fix the story online (never mind industry and legal standards to ensure that corrections and updates are seen by as many people as the original inaccurate publication) even when presented with hard evidence showing how inaccurate the reporting was is shocking and should be inexcusable.

10. 🙇‍♂️ If I could do this all over again, would I change things (most things)? Absolutely! But at the time, I really was just trying to better the community I live in by supporting people’s hopes and dreams of what our community could be.

I suppose that in the moment, my passionate, youthful excitement got the better of me and led me to make choices and build relationships I wouldn’t make again if given the chance.

But, at the end of the day, supporting people’s hopes and dreams of what their community could be and should be, is what gives me purpose and fills me with life. I think that the totality if my life’s work would show that that’s true, and that despite the occasional misstep or two along the way, that my heart has always been in the right place.

I hope that people can see that I have and continue to learn from and grow from this, and I hope people can see that I did not do these things for my own benefit or with sinister intentions, but rather with the best of intentions — chief among them, to benefit the community I loved… I am sorry it didn’t always appear that way to many people.

What I have presented here and in my longer piece are the facts of the case, as best as I can recall and verify with primary source documents. However, if I got anything wrong, I want to know so I can get it corrected.

If anyone has any questions or concerns, feel free to send an email to:

SOUPKickstarterStory@gmail.com

Accomplished public servant and former elected official turned civic & cultural commentator and consultant 🔗 andrewlondre.com

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