Democratic Party Congressman Pat Ryan, who ran for and won the August special election in New York’s District 19 is currently running for re-election in the November midterms.
Ryan has received endorsements from the Ulster County Sheriff to MoveOn, and various unions. Ryan speaks of his history as a West Point graduate and veteran, and of having grown up in a “union household.” What is missing from his biography is that he was previously involved with the Chamber of Commerce, Hunton & Williams (now Hunton Andrews Kurth), and several private intelligence firms (known collectively as Team Themis) in a conspiracy to spy on and run counter-intelligence operations against unions.
Pat Ryan is the son of a health insurance executive and public school teacher. After graduating from West Point, Ryan did two tours in Iraq as an Intelligence Officer. In late 2010, after leaving the military, Ryan took a job in Afghanistan with Berico Technologies which was subcontracted by Peter Thiel-owned Palantir.
Around this same time, Ryan, still working for Berico, would bring his intelligence skills back home and deploy them domestically. On October 19, 2010, Ryan first appeared on an email, leaked by Anonymous, with Matthew Steckman of Palantir and Aaron Barr of HBGary Federal. Steckman had emailed them about “offering a complete intelligence solution to a law firm that approached us.”
The law firm in question was Hunton & Williams, the client was the Chamber of Commerce, and the intelligence firms were HBGary Federal/Palantir/Berico Technologies aka Team Themis. The targets were U.S. Chamber Watch and its allies, which include unions and several liberal/progressive groups exposing the Chamber’s dirty laundry.
The elite law firm Hunton & Williams, which merged with Andrews Kurth to become Hunton Andrews Kurth in 2018, has a long history of working in the “union avoidance” (union busting) industry.
Writer of the infamous Powell memo, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., was a partner at Hunton. Addressed to the Chamber of Commerce, the Powell memo was a declaration of class war by the business class against the working class and the modest reforms of the New Deal.
One of the players from Hunton involved in the Ryan conspiracy is Robert Quackenboss who is identified in an Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) LM-10 document as legal counsel to Lowe’s.
Quackenboss, who is shown in the leaked email exchanges with Ryan, is documented in the LM-10 as hiring the well known union busting firm The Burke Group, aka Labor Information Services. Hunton was even listed in several recent NLRB cases representing Amazon in its ongoing fight against the unionization effort by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU).
The emails show Pat Ryan at nearly every step of the conspiracy. In an email dated October 28, 2010, Ryan tells Aaron Barr that “A client of theirs is targeted by another entity, specifically a labor union, that is trying to extract some kind of concession or favorable outcome.”
In another email dated November 5, 2010, Ryan asks Hunton lawyer John Woods whether their dataset includes “access to the union in question’s membership lists?” and “Financial Records, Union Rosters, IP addresses [emphasis added].”
In another, Ryan shares a document with the others written for the Chamber of Commerce called Trends in Union Corporate Campaigns by George Washington University Professor Jarol B. Manheim. Manheim is the author of the book The Death of a Thousand Cuts: Corporate Campaigns and the Attack on the Corporation (2000), which is a seminal text dissecting then-contemporary union campaign strategies.
One group targeted for surveillance and dirty tricks was the union coalition Change to Win (CtW), now the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC). CtW included unions SEIU, Teamsters, UFCW and UFW.
Other targets included the late activist Kevin Zeese, who sued Hunton’s attorney for their actions, and MoveOn.org. Part of the operation was creating a fake insider persona that would feed disinformation, such as fake documents, to these groups so as to discredit them.
A Team Themis document proposed “Create a false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information, and monitor to see if US Chamber Watch acquires it. Afterward, present explicit evidence proving that such transactions never occurred. Also, create a fake insider persona and generate communications with CtW. Afterward, release the actual documents at a specified time and explain the activity as a CtW contrived operation. Both instances will prove that US Chamber Watch cannot be trusted with information and/or tell the truth.”
During their discussions with Hunton, Team Themis even gathered intelligence on Hunton’s lawyers and family members, going so far as to dig up traffic stops received by the spouse of Hunton lawyer John Woods. Themis also gathered intelligence on the family members of targets. One target was “Mike Gehrke, a former staffer with Change to Win. Among the information circulated about Gehrke was the specific ‘Jewish church’ he attended and a link to pictures of his wife and two children [emphasis added].”
As Themis was in the process of tweaking their sales pitch to the Chamber, the plot was exposed in February 2011 in emails leaked by Anonymous. Ryan soon left Berico Technologies and co-founded data-analysis firm Praescient Analytics which provides intelligence analysis for businesses, and works “with intelligence community clients”.
Praescient’s current CEO is Jeremy Fremin, who’s LinkedIn notes his 15 years of work for the CIA.
Ryan also helped found cybersecurity firm Second Front Systems with current CEO Peter Dixon. Second Front Systems provides cybersecurity services for U.S. government agencies. Dixon is a “former Marine Corps Major…a scout sniper platoon commander who worked with In-Q-Tel and DARPA to pioneer counter-cartel and counter-insurgency technologies, including early adoption of Palantir, at the State Department and Pentagon, and retired Marine Corps Colonel Mark Butler, a fighter and test pilot who helped form the Marines’ arm of Cyber Command.”
In 2015 Ryan took a job at an “artificial intelligence” startup Dataminr. Dataminr is funded by the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, which also funded Palantir. Dataminr clients have included the FBI, police departments and a fusion center, the Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC). Dataminr even monitored tweets mentioning Black Lives Matter for the JRIC.
In 2017 Ryan launched a failed campaign for New York Congressional District 19. According to his financial disclosure form Ryan was an SVP at Dataminr until late 2017. During the campaign Ryan would refer to Medicare for All as just a “bumper-sticker slogan” and said he supported “buy in” to Medicare as a path toward universal healthcare. It is worth noting that Pat Ryan’s LinkedIn no longer shows his long career working or founding all these intelligence or “data” companies.
Ryan would then briefly take a position as a senior adviser for NewPolitics before successfully winning a 2019 election for Ulster County Executive in New York. During his run for County Executive he was endorsed by the Upper Hudson Central Labor Council of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. Ryan was also a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and member of the Truman National Security Project. In 2020, Ryan would endorse fellow military spook Pete Buttigieg for President.
The 2022 election for NY-19 would come early in August of this year due to the resignation of then Congressman Antonio Delgado who resigned to become Lieutenant Governor to Kathy Hochul. It is at this time that unions, including some of the same ones Ryan targeted for privatized COINTELPRO operations, would begin throwing him endorsements and donations.
In a February 2011 press release about the Team Themis scandal, SEIU said their union was specifically targeted for “dirty tricks” by these private intelligence firms, Hunton and the Chamber. Despite this, SEIU Local 1199 decided to throw their endorsement behind Pat Ryan for Congress.
Teamsters Local 445, which is one of a few Teamster locals representing cops, also endorsed Ryan.
Campaign finance records show that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) would throw an endorsement via the NYSUT and $5,000 to Ryan’s campaign. AFT president Randi Weingarten, who appears to be the AFL-CIO’s point person in Ukraine, attended the Labor Walk for Education Champions event with Ryan.
Some other union and labor donations/endorsements include the New York State AFL-CIO, CWA ($5,000), Teamsters Local 445, SMART ($5,000), UA ($5,000), LIUNA ($5,000), AFSCME ($5,000), and IUOE Local 825 ($1,500), Hudson Valley Building Trades Council, NYS PEF (an SEIU affiliate), UAW Region 9A, New York State Nurses Association, North Atlantic States Carpenters, and UUP.
All unions, except for two, have yet to respond to email requests regarding their reasons for endorsement/funding of Ryan’s campaign, and what they thought about his history of spying on the labor movement.
The Teamsters PAC DRIVE donated $5,466 in June 2022 to Ryan’s Congressional Campaign; however, the donation is currently listed as “refunded.” Communications Coordinator for the Teamsters, Ted Gotsch, responded to a request for comment about the refund by stating that the donation was made “per a request from Teamsters Local 445, DRIVE contributed $5,466 to Pat Ryan for Ulster County Executive Office. However, the money was inadvertently deposited into his congressional account. Thus the campaign refunded the $5466.00 to DRIVE.”
In a follow-up email asking for comment on whether the Teamsters were aware of Ryan’s history of spying on the labor movement, and for comment on his actions, Gotsch replied with “Again, on background – endorsements are made by our local unions.” Teamsters Local 445 has yet to respond to a request for comment.
The other union to respond was the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Biruk Assefa, National Press Officer/Senior Editor for CWA, responded with “We will look into it. In the meantime, can you send me recent articles you have published or some sort of reporter profile or social media? We can’t find your credentials on any of our databases.”
After a follow-up email with some of my background, I have yet to receive another response. Another endorsement of note came from MoveOn, a target of Team Themis. MoveOn has yet to respond to a request for comment.
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About the Author
Giorgio Manfredi (pseudonym) is a union organizer based in the United States.
He has worked both inside and outside the traditional labor movement on local to national union campaigns.
His research is currently focused on the “union avoidance” industry and the activities of intelligence agencies related to labor unions.
Giorgio can be reached at or @UnionBustingBot on twitter