The information in this communication has been obtained by the Committee to
Reform MUFON (CRM) through interviews with some of the parties involved. The
information is true to the best of CRM’s ability to determine.
Why was Colorado State Director Leslie Varnicle fired?
To the Members of Colorado MUFON-
The mystery of why Colorado State Director Leslie Varnicle was
fired has been solved. For starters, it had to do with James Carrion and
whether he was to blame for MUFON losing its contract with Robert Bigelow.
James resigned in January 2010, and after that the view circulated in MUFON
was that James’ “mismanagement of the funds” had been the cause for Bigelow
terminating the contract after $334,000 of the promised $672,000 had been
It was in November 2009 that Bigelow descended on MUFON
demanding an accounting of the money. This threw the MUFON Board of
Directors into a panic and they gave up the books of MUFON, and the books of
the Bigelow project, to Bigelow to audit. It didn’t mollify him. He
terminated the arrangement which had been in effect the previous ten
months-the arrangement in which Bigelow paid wages and expenses to MUFON’s
Star Team investigators and administrators, and in which Bigelow had
unrestricted real time access to MUFON CMS (computer Case Management
The MUFON Board didn’t tell James, the International Director,
what it was doing to try to appease Bigelow, and when James found out, he
resigned. After that, people got the idea James was incompetent or even that
he might have stolen money from the project.
Leslie Varnicle asked too many questions
In an interview, Leslie Varnicle says at first she went along
with the idea it had all been James’s fault, but then, “I started looking
and checking and researching,” she says, “and talking with James. I have
learned over the years to follow my senses, and initially my senses were
telling me No, it hadn’t been James’s fault, but I went along with what I
was being fed [by the Board]; I was drinking the Kool-Aide.”
She says she started asking Cliff and other Board members questions, such
as: “If James did all these things wrong, why didn’t the Board know it?
Didn’t you watch him?” she wanted to know. And “Didn’t you have an
accountant looking at the books?”
“The idea James had stolen money was implied, but when it come down to the
facts hitting the floor, I found that No, he hadn’t. As a matter of fact,
the $30,000 salary James was supposed to get he contributed back to MUFON.
Eventually,” Leslie says, “I came to the realization James had been thrown
under the bus.”
She didn’t believe much of what the Board of Directors said
Leslie Varnicle had become disillusioned with MUFON. And the
scape-goating of James Carrion wasn’t the only reason. Leslie didn’t like
that “the states are not part of MUFON” and have no say in how MUFON is run.
She pushed to get Colorado MUFON incorporated into International but the
Board of Directors wanted no part of that. Leslie says the Board was eager
to get money from the states but hesitated because that might entitle the
states to a greater say in MUFON’s affairs.
She tried to get MUFON to purchase an insurance policy to cover
investigators, but the Board would have none of that. Leslie, who is in the
insurance business, says the policy would have been “inexpensive” to
Leslie tried to become a member of the Board of Directors but the Board
wanted no part of her. They claimed she didn’t make enough money to pay for
all the travel involved. Her response was to develop Webinar for MUFON use
and she advocated electronic internet teleconferencing to permit the Board
to meet without travel, and that idea went nowhere.
Leslie definitely did not like the marginalizing of the states
after the Star Team came in and the states got only the “lights in the sky”
cases, and she didn’t like the secrecy surrounding the Star Team
investigations. She didn’t like the “background checks” of MUFON
investigators that began to be required and she didn’t like the Star Team
administrators barking out orders and their rudeness. She felt she was a
competent investigator, after 41 years in MUFON, and she believed her
regular team in Colorado was qualified to carry out any investigation in
She didn’t like the secrecy and the background checks.
As for the background checks, she felt MUFON did not have
procedures in place to safeguard the information demanded-“date of birth,
social security number, maiden name, military records,” she says-from
identity theft. Nor did she care for the “non-disclosure” forms in Star
Team. “That really got my goat,” she says. “What do you mean I can never
talk about anything?” she says referring to the terms of the non-disclosure.
“You can never talk, never write about anything you see or do. What? I
thought we were here to keep this stuff open to the public and be a thorn in
the side of those who want to keep UFOs secret. But apparently MUFON wants
to keep secrets too!” she says.
Leslie was suspicious of the confidentiality procedures surrounding the Star
Team and she claims the information in CMS is manipulated. Leslie is adamant
that cases sent to Colorado showed up in her email but were not in CMS when
she went to look for them. She says global searches for the case number did
not produce the case. On inquiry to CMS administrators she was told the
cases had been “deleted for bad language,” and she did not believe that.
Leslie also says Colorado ASD Cheryl Gantz reported that Clifford Clift had
told her (Cheryl) not to have any speakers on abductions-“That’s not what we
do; that’s not what MUFON is about,” Cliff is reported to have said-and
Leslie didn’t like that. In a hostile interview, Gantz at first told the
Committee: “Cliff never said that” and later Gantz said, “I’m not going to
get into that.”
The Feb. 12 Colorado state meeting
Leslie says she is not surprised Clifford Clift did not tell the
truth when he spoke to the Colorado members on Feb. 12th. Leslie was fired,
Cliff told the members, because she “said on a radio program that she
recorded a state directors’ meeting and gave the recording to James and he
is going to use it in a defamation suit against MUFON.” [An accurate quote,
confirmed with Cliff.]
Actually, Leslie said no such thing on any radio program. James,
however, did. On the Pippin program Feb. 7, James stated he had received the
tape and that Cliff thought he got it from Leslie. Of course, James saying
that on the radio Feb. 7 could not have been the reason Leslie was fired
Two emails to Clifford Cliff from the Committee to Reform MUFON
asking him for the name of the radio program on which Leslie made the remark
he attributed to her went unanswered.
She didn’t see any “ethics” in MUFON
So the Committee to Reform MUFON went to Leslie and asked: Did
you give a tape of the 2010 symposium state directors’ meeting to James
Carrion? “Yes,” she said. When James asked you for the tape, why didn’t you
go to Clifford Clift and ask him what to do? “I didn’t do that because I
don’t see any ethics in MUFON.” What do you mean by that? “In my job I have
to abide by codes of ethics for the licenses I have, everything from federal
to state licenses. Every two years I am required to take ethics classes. And
one of the things I don’t see in MUFON is ethics. I see no ethics
Is there was something unethical about the way James was treated? “Yes
there is. I gathered enough information to realize James was not the bad guy
I was led to believe he was. There was no ethical behavior from the Board of
MUFON and there still is none.”
In other words, in the period before she was fired Leslie became
disillusioned by what she observed in MUFON, and she expressed it by giving
James a tape to defend himself against libel.
She didn’t like the contract with Bigelow and what it brought to
MUFON. She didn’t like the marginalization of the states and she didn’t like
the secrecy regime. She felt she and her investigators were exposed to
liability and that MUFON didn’t care, and she worried that information
provided in “background checks” would not be safeguarded from identity
theft. She didn’t like the “self-perpetuating” Board of Directors and how
“the states weren’t part of MUFON.” She didn’t understand why Clifford
Clift said abductions should not be discussed in MUFON, and she couldn’t see
why secrecy was enforced on the Star Team when she thought the Mission of
MUFON was to provide all information to the public, and she saw evidence CMS
She tried to keep faith and hold on to her job
She tried to change MUFON from within, but nothing she tried
worked. She tried to get on the Board of Directors, she tried to get the
Board to adopt electronic communications, and she tried to merge the
Colorado chapter into MUFON. She suggested to the Board they needed better
accounting procedures and she tried to get the Board to insure the field
investigators. In other ways she tried to accommodate to and put up with the
practices within the organization. For example, she tried to believe James
Carrion was incompetent and had caused the loss of the contract with
Bigelow. She tried to keep faith and hold on to her job in the organization
she had worked in for 41 years.
As for the MUFON Board of Directors, we suppose that over time
the Board became aware of Leslie Varnicle’s misgivings. They knew she did
not buy into the new, James Carrion-Robert Bigelow era ways of doing things
in MUFON. And she is capable, experienced, and observant. Accordingly, they
fired her and in the process even stripped away Leslie Varnicle’s field
investigator status after 41 years in MUFON.
Telling the truth would open the door to too many questions
Seeing this, it becomes clear why the MUFON Board cannot tell
the truth as to why Leslie was fired. It becomes clear why the International
Director cannot tell the truth about the firing even when speaking before
the members of Colorado MUFON. It becomes clear why he cannot speak for
MUFON, but instead resorts to taking words from the mouth of James Carrion,
putting them in the mouth of Leslie Varnicle, and using those words, not
MUFON’s words, to “explain” the firing of Leslie Varnicle.
If the story was told truthfully, it would open a window on a host of
embarrassing, controversial and possibly libelous issues. It would lead to a
discussion of the nature of Leslie Varnicle’s critique of MUFON and whether
indeed there are any “ethics” in MUFON- and that is not a discussion
Clifford Clift and the MUFON Board intend to have with the members of
Colorado MUFON. So in the end, Leslie herself was scapegoated.
And that, in the view of the Committee to Reform MUFON, is a
good part of the story as to why Leslie Varnicle was fired in January as the
State Director of Colorado.
Submitted by The Committee to Reform MUFON: