Readers of High Noon are well aware that Alexander Knight's recent decision to target me has resulted in a harvest of fact-based counter-punches, mostly regarding his bizarre predilection for venerating eco-terrorist and murderer Wiebo Ludwig.
In the interest of journalistic ethics, I'm going to disclose something here: Mr Knight has chosen to make matters between him and myself personal. He chose to be the aggressor. Next time he should think better of it.
Because, as it turns out, there may be reason to suspect that Mr Knight may not quite be the environmentalist activist that he's making himself out to be. In fact, I've received detailed tips that he may be using his so-called "environmentalist activism" as a cover to enrich himself.
The matter revolves around a GoFundMe project he started in order to pay for what he calls an "eco-drone." He says it will take aerial camera footage and even non-descript "samples."
But it turns out that there's reason to think that what Mr Knight has really asked people to crowdfund is a private business, called Skeyefoto.
Now certainly, there's nothing wrong with a man starting a business. In fact, I personally encourage anyone with an idea and this ambition to do just that. So no, this isn't about Mr Knight starting a business. It's about possibly deceiving his crowdfunders in order to do it.
Here's a relevant snippet from his GoFundMe page:
"AN FPV system will permit safer operation of the drone and allow far
more accuracy when obtaining footage and samples. The onboard OSD will
monitor and display battery level, altitude, speed, direction, and
distance from operator.
With the donations already received I
have purchased a GoPro Hero3+ Black (FPV capable), the Tarot T2-D gimbal
and an IOD (FPV functionality). For this new frame I have also
purchased a NAZA-M V2. In the event of an ESC, motor or prop failure
this new NAZA will allow me to perform an emergency landing instead of
losing the entire rig as I did last December.
What I need now are at least two 10000+mAH 4S LiPo batteries to
extend flight times up to and over 20 minutes. Currently I am working
with old cheap 3S LiPo batteries that will only last for roughly 60-90
seconds--that is not a typo.
I simply do not have the budget for
these items and am asking the public for help. This project will be
solely dedicated to environmental initiatives meant to benefit everyone."
Sorry to say that Mr Knight starting a business to film or photograph commercial real estate properties from the air doesn't "benefit everyone." It benefits Mr Knight. It may even benefit the real estate companies in question. But that's hardly "everyone."
My anonymous tipster was kind enough to send me a link to this:
(This is kind of amusing considering that he's believed to have created numerous sockpuppet Twitter accounts to "threaten" him on behalf of the "oilsands lobby.")
Particularly amusing is that the individual questioning him in this instance isn't asking him for anything. Mr Knight may want to familiarize himself with the meaning of "blackmail" before using the word.
In fact, it begs a question: if Alexander Knight already has a drone for his business, why does he need to crowdfund another drone? Could he not just be using that drone for his activist work? And if not, why not?
If he's going to crowdfund a drone from donors, he ought to at least have a good reason to do it. A second drone to play around with -- when/if he already has one -- doesn't seem like a great one.
If I were the following people, I'd be raising these questions with great aplomb:
Sam Choukeir - donated $10
Karen Gauthier - donated $15
Diane Smith - donated $50
Jeff Couillard - donated $20
Angela Bischoff - donated $25
Billy Nobels - donated $50
As well, there are a number of anonymous donors who could very well ask the same question.
These might not be overwhelming sums of money. But fraud is fraud. And while I don't think there's quite enough evidence afoot here to solidly accuse Alexander Knight of fraud, it seems to me that there's certainly cause for suspicion. Certainly enough to ask questions about it.
And let's make no mistake about it: if Knight is using this drone that he crowdfunded promising it would only be used on a not-for-profit basis for his for-profit business, a case could be made for fraud. After all, if that isn't a person misrepresenting themselves for monetary gain, what is?
Alexander Knight has some 'splainin' to do. I invite him to do it without accusations of "blackmail." No one's asking him for anything other than the truth.
Update, 02/ 03/14 - Well, Mr Knight is declining to answer any questions. Which was predictable.
Which is really a shame. He's provided plenty of fodder for anyone who may be suspicious regarding the sincerity of his GoFundMe page. There is, for example, the following:
"With the donations already received I have purchased a GoPro Hero3+
Black (FPV capable), the Tarot T2-D gimbal and an IOD (FPV
Pictured left is a Tweet from Mr Knight's @SkeyeFoto Twitter account, making reference to Transport Canada regs on commerical UAVs and boasting that a Tarot T2-D gimbal has just arrived.
Did he buy that piece of equipment for @SkeyeFoto with donations received via his not-for-profit crowdfunder? Mr Knight has yet to answer this question.
Update, 02/04/14 - Alexander Knight is promising to answer questions -- hopefully, the very specific question of whether or not he purchased a Tarot T2-D gimbal for his private business with funds donated for the construction of a not-for-profit "eco-drone."
Mr Knight has also accused me of accusing him of fraud. I think this is a very telling accusation, when you consider how I've phrased any remarks regarding Mr Knight and the possible presence of fraudulence in this matter:
"...while I don't think there's quite enough evidence afoot here
to solidly accuse Alexander Knight of fraud, it seems to me that there's
certainly cause for suspicion. Certainly enough to ask questions about
And let's make no mistake about it: if Knight is
using this drone that he crowdfunded promising it would only be used on a
not-for-profit basis for his for-profit business, a case could be made
for fraud. After all, if that isn't a person misrepresenting themselves
for monetary gain, what is?"
Notice the "if?" The question of whether or not Mr Knight is doing anything fraudulent is prefaced on the matter of whether or not he used crowdfunded donations for his for-profit business.
I think that a person could potentially take his bombastic response to the questions raised in this blogpost as confirmation that he's done just that. I personally don't, but I think a person potentially could.
Which is why Mr Knight would do far better to drop the Ghomeshi tactics and just answer the questions.