Cool & Unusual Punishment

Luginbilled Series Finale - Episode 12

Episode Summary

After a long, exhausting year of kicking over rocks, we can finally answer the big question: Where is Joe Luginbill?

Episode Notes

Joe Luginbill Releases Statement

Organizations Forced out of State Theater

WEConnect International

Referenced Screenshots 

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Episode Transcription

Jodie:  “I feel it is important to make a statement to the media at this time. I know that my absence has led to many questions, and I regret how it has left people in the dark.”

Tyler:  The last anybody heard from Joe was that statement at the end of January. For the better part of last year, you have followed up on countless leads, interviewed people from around the city and state, dug into FOIA documents and carefully detailed Joe Luginbill’s repeated attempts to evade financial and ethical obligations to scholarship recipients, project committees, volunteer workers, charity organizations, school district staff, board members, property owners, one father wrongfully accused of kidnapping. You also illustrated a years long campaign to inflate his own credentials to elevate him to the positions of power that made it possible to do these things in the first place. The big question that was sort of in the air after the state theater news broke was “Where's Joe Luginbill?”

Jodie:  Where's Joe Luginbill? Well…

Tyler: You’re listening to Episode 12 of Luginbiled, our series finale on the music man of Eau Claire. My name is Tyler Haas, and joining me in the War Room, Jodie Arnold, How are you?

Jodie:  I'm good, and that's “series finale” within ellipses after it. Anytime somebody reaches out to me with a story, I'm going to do it. But as far as we’re concerned at this point, this is the series finale.

Tyler:  Yeah, we only spent an entire year on it.

Jodie: Yeah. Wow.

Tyler: So where are you taking us?

Jodie:  Well, this story starts at the beginning. Like all good stories do. We're going to go back to January 16th of 2020.

“I had someone here doing snow removal while Joe was out of town, and Excel Energy was here to shut the building down,” said Sarah Strunk. “There was a lot of emotion that we were contending with, but when we realized that there was no heat and no power and we really couldn't use the space anymore, we ended up getting an email saying that the least would be terminated,” said Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center VP of operations, Daniel Bennett Hardy.

So if you've been listening to the series from the beginning, this will be familiar to you. This is where everything started with the story. On the 16th of January, Joe was out of town and a huge past due notice got put on the door of the State Theater, who then lost power. People that had offices in that building lost that space, and Joe was nowhere to be found in town, because he wasn't there while it was happening. So we all remember that. That's what got us started on this. We talked to Sarah Strunk, episode four, and we know the LGBTQ+ Center was left to deal with a cut lease. They have nowhere to be. These people, as you can see here, are also both left, these groups are left to deal with the media answering to what's happened. You know, they're the ones talking to the media about this, and they really don't know any answers because they're not responsible for it!

We've all wondered to some extent, what was Joe Luginbill doing while this was happening?

Tyler:  It was a question that was going around a lot that first couple weeks after the state theater news broke, was “Where's Joe Luginbill?”

Jodie:  Days after all of this happens, and people are wondering, “Where is Joe Luginbill?” Joe Luginbill was applying for a job in Washington, D. C.

This part of the story I can't get terribly specific with because the source I have for it, while trusted and verified, was hesitant for reasons of confidentiality getting their company involved. But this company is in Washington. D. C. Joe applies for a job the week of January 12th to January 16th, saying at that point he'd be available part time. On the 24th of January he tells this potential employer that his other quote, “government consulting contracts” were ending, and he'd be available to work for them full time. Where is Joe Luginbill?

Tyler: He’s in D. C., applying for jobs.

Jodie: And pivots to full time employment when he realizes he's completely screwed! And refers to what damage he's done as “government contracts ending.”

Tyler: Yes, they are.

Jodie: Joe Luginbill, job hunting since the 12th of January, updates that potential employer with new hours of availability. And that lie is happening at the same point that this person is telling the media:


“I feel it is important to make a statement to the media at this time. I know that my absence has led to many questions, and I regret how it has left people in the dark. The truth is that for a period of several months I have been completely overwhelmed. I held onto unrealistic hopes of a Hail Mary that would support the success of two daunting projects, The State Theater, and the Smile House. I worked on these projects and others without receiving any salary and without employees. Despite this and despite public support and encouragement, the level of donations simply did not keep up with the costs associated with the operations. More than anything, I was in denial. I was in denial to believe that I would be able to see the success of these projects on my own. I was in denial as bills added up and more and more responsibilities were shifted to me, it is hard to cope with the fact that this has led people and causes I care deeply about to be disappointed and hurt. In the coming weeks and months, I will work to make amends with the programs which I care about so deeply, because I no longer am equipped to manage these programs myself, I will be passing them on to other entities and organizations that can see them through. For that reason, I am in the process of dissolving my foundation.”

-We know that didn't happen.

“-at this time, I am also pursuing treatment for mental illness. In many ways, my mental illness has been debilitating. For me, it has been a root cause for the challenges I am currently facing. I have put off seeking treatment for a very long time, and I feel vital that I receive it now.”

Jodie: I don't know if Joe was seeking help for mental health issues. I do know that as this was happening, in the weeks after it, he was already lying in order to get a new job and get out of here.

So Joe told this company he was closing out his foundation positions in Eau Claire because he was going to live in a D. C. neighborhood, which I'm not going to name, with his boyfriend, who I'm not going to name, while that boyfriend attended Howard University Dental School. The person I talked to told me that Joe got very close to securing that job, that he was an excellent interview. But unfortunately for him, this employer has some very savvy employees.

The person I spoke with started looking into the foundation. They discovered the Facebook page for the Smile House was gone all of a sudden. From the time he applied for the job initially to the day that this person started looking up his website and biography, it was either gone or completely changed.

Tyler: I mean, what a time to be Googling Joe Luginbill, like, from one day to the next a lot of information would be in flux, if you were Googling him around that time.

Jodie:  Yeah, and there were a few new stories. But, you know, it was just like-

Tyler:  No, cause nobody knew that it wasn't like some technicality for all anybody knew.

Jodie: Right. How confusing to have somebody apply for a job, look him up, because I'm sure he still felt comfortable enough to share the names of some of these projects. Then suddenly-

Tyler:  You’d think you were going crazy. “I swear to to God there was a Facebook.”

Jodie: Joe does find himself a job, but it's not as Joe Luginbill.

We connect international dot org. Location, Washington, D. C. Miles Luginbill is the grant and proposal manager for We Connect International. He has experience working in the government, nonprofit and business sectors. So that's his brief bio on we connect. We’ll go into who we connect is. Listeners can't see the photo on the bio that we're looking at right now-

Tyler:  Right. But if you were to just give me a one sentence summary of the photo you're looking at..

Jodie:  I'm looking at a photo of Joe Luginbill. With a slightly different haircut and glasses.

And quite frankly, this is a much better look. Let me quickly remind everybody that Joe's full name is Joseph Miles Luginbill. Well, the first problem is Miles Luginbill.

Tyler:  You don't think Miles Luginbill is a cunning ruse?

Jodie:  I mean, when you have a last name like Luginbill, and then you just choose your middle name as the first name.

Tyler:  Yeah, but he also has glasses.

Jodie:  Miles has successfully won grant awards and private, state, and federal competitions. His work includes serving as grant and proposal officer for a multi state nonprofit organization, and working as a self employed grant and proposal consultant. He previously worked in government affairs for a business services firm, and was a legislative assistant and a federal congressional office. In his spare time, Miles enjoys volunteering as a digital transcriptionist for the Smithsonian Institution, and as a federal agency grant reviewer.

I'm going to tell you now a little bit about what we connect is. “We Connect International helps drive money into the hands of women business owners by enabling them to compete in the global marketplace.”

They've partnered with Coca Cola, Boeing, Walmart. So we connect is, you know, they're a legitimate company. The interesting part about this is that Miles Luginbill doesn't stay Miles Luginbill. If you look on the we connect site, you will see that, what was the last cached day? Do you remember?

Tyler:  It was late October. I don't know how long it actually stayed, Miles Luginbill but the one time it was saved was like, October 22nd, it was still Miles Luginbill.

Jodie:  So sometime after October 22nd, Miles Luginbill on We Connect becomes Miles Andrews.

The bio stays the same. Last name changes. So I thought, well, I'm going to look into if I can find any documentation on any kinds of name changes for Joe Luginbill to Miles Luginbill to Miles Andrews. Can't find anything. Whether or not there's something to be found I don't know. I do know that I have another source who can confirm that Joe's boyfriend's last name is Andrews, so certainly it's no coincidence. Formally or not, Andrews isn't a name pulled out of the air, but-

Tyler: Right. This is a lot of very studious, dedicated, legwork to verify something that that was verified the second we looked at that picture.

Jodie:  Yeah. Hey-

Tyler: But, yes, I do… it’s important.

Jodie: The funny thing is, is the bio is changed to Andrews, but the URL-

Tyler: The URL remains. His email was changed, but the URL remains unchanged.

Jodie:  Well, let's go back to the bio, okay. “Worked as a legislative assistant in a federal congressional office.” I believe it's in official bios for Joe. I've heard many a person talk about the fact that Joe in some capacity worked in Senator Herb Kohl's office in Eau Claire. Now, Joe would have maybe been like 16 or 17 when Herb Kohl was getting ready to leave office. So certainly he was a volunteer, if anything. So my source says in response to a legislative assistant and a federal congressional office: Absolutely not. Neither Miles Luginbill, nor Miles Andrews, nor Joe Luginbill, for that matter, ever received a salary from a congressional office. Identifying yourself as a legislative assistant and a federal congressional office without having received a salary is a mislead, and false.

The other things he mentions are either tied to a foundation, currently under police investigation or not true.

Tyler: The legislative assistant bit especially, like, it's a deep pull. It makes me think that if you are Joe Luginbill filling out your bio post January 2020, that there are probably a lot of things you had to cross off your cover letter.

Jodie:  Yeah, and then what you do use is, as always, not true, overinflated, or potentially criminal.

Tyler: Yeah.

Jodie: It should have been of no surprise to me to find a renewal of old behaviors, even on some sort of restart. It's all starting again on things that aren't true. That both solidifies a lot of feelings I have about him, but also really irritates me.

Tyler:  Uh, yeah, it is particularly insulting to have, to find him cropping up again when the last anybody heard from him was this very vulnerable press statement, doing a lot of self reflection and seeking treatment, to find out that that was the smoke bomb that he was using to get out the bathroom window to another city to do the exact same thing.

Jodie:  The source I talked to verified to me that the bio stuff that we read there is very much like the bio stuff that was presented to their company. As things were actively happening, and were pretty bad in Eau Claire, without missing a beat, like to the day, he was onto the next thing.

I was also fascinated by the lack of a digital footprint, which probably is very painful for Miles Andrews. Don't you remember the, was it the Sarah Strunk episode in which he says, “What can I say?”

Tyler:  “I'm a media whore.” Yes, was the line.

Jodie:  Must kill him, because there is virtually no digital footprint for either of these people. When I was talking to the person who helped me with the story, they said it is extremely unusual for a person working in government affairs in D. C. to not have a linkedin page, particularly folks between 20 and 50, and most particularly folks doing consulting. The company that my source works for. they deal with tens of thousands of people in D. C. a year. So this just isn't this person's opinion about Linkedin, it's just, it's a statistical fact. To have zero social media-

Tyler:  Right. And that would fall in line with-

Jodie: Somebody running.

Tyler:  Well, yes, well, what we’ve seen of him, and of your personal inability to find any white page lookup services that scrape data off the internet, you couldn't find anything of Joe Luginbill at all.

Jodie:  Even as Joe Luginbill.

Tyler:  Like, he is a ghost on the Internet.

Jodie:  You know, when I was searching for Miles Luginbill, Miles Andrews, I knew for sure that Joseph Luginbill lived in Eau Claire for a long period of time. And there is nothing. What I can't help but think about is, well, the fact that we found him, that's crazy. But I don't understand how he got this job. I have a few ideas. There's a few people out there that are apologists, are friends with him still, so there might be people that would vouch for him. Do employers on this level not check a resume? I know that he interviews extremely well.

Tyler:  That's what I was going to say, is that he, you know, the man can promote himself like nobody's business, but I would think a government grant position in D. C. is the sort of job where they do, in fact, call your references, and follow up on the claims you're making.

Jodie:  Did you put down the Luginbill Children's Foundation? Did nobody bother to look into that and see like, problems with the IRS? police investigation?

Tyler: Yeah, even without the police investigation, you’d think the first thing you would find is that his nonprofit never filed a 990 and was dissolved by the IRS?

Jodie:  But who knows what he said the name of the nonprofit was, because he's not Joe Luginbill anymore.

So there's your answer. Where is Joe Luginbill? Joe Luginbill is Miles Andrews in Washington D.C.

Tyler:  You can probably speak more to thanking all the people that reached out to us, that turned to this from, like, a two episode thing in January to a year long, deep dive. It was, by and large, the part of people trusting us enough to reach out and let us tell the stories.

Jodie: I mean, it sounds like you just did it.

Tyler:  I suppose. I mean, it's only because people are willing to talk to us that we get to do these stories.

Jodie:  Everybody, including the person that served as an invaluable resource on this episode, I'm very appreciative of. Like you said, trusting us to do justice to your story, and encourage people to not feel ashamed for being fooled. But I certainly didn't plan on the last episode of this podcast being this.

Tyler: Yeah.

Jodie: It feels like something you would have at the beginning and just be committed to not sharing. That's not how it happened.

Tyler: We were lucky enough to get a closer right when we needed it.

Jodie: Yep.

Tyler: I also wanted to thank you. I don't know that there's that many people that could do this as well as you did, and as professionally. I think it speaks to your ability to do those things that, people speak to us broadly as a podcast, but they want to speak to you. Like. you are the one they trust to tell their stories sensitively, and to respect anonymity. People were right to trust you.

Jodie: Thank you. Thank you for being a great editor. This is not where this style of podcasting ends.

Tyler: Right, the style of podcast we're doing changed very drastically once we started doing Luginbilled, and now we have a big list of stories that we want to do next. I won't talk too much about the next big one, that probably takes most of next year-

Jodie: Yep.

Tyler: But also a lot of little ones that are all local, or regional, or Midwest based. 

Jodie:  Yep, we have another series already to research further. We've already done a fair amount, but now it's a matter of organizing it. We want to consistently provide you with the quality of show that you've been listening to.

Tyler: People who just jumped on the train when we started doing Luginbilled, uh, pop in when we started the next story, because it’s-

Jodie: It’s a ride.

Tyler: Yeah.

Jodie: Thanks for listening, everybody.

Tyler:  Stay tuned.

Luginbilled is presented by Cool and Unusual Punishment. Research and interviewing for this entire series is by Jodie Arnold, with editing and mixing by me, Tyler Haas. Music by Jeff Harvey, Goldie Shine, Christian Ean, Azov Music, Xavly, John Wright, and Rick Dickert. The song you're hearing behind me right now is by The Taxpayers. Special thanks to everyone who spoke to us for the series, or messaged us with information, or leads or just encouraging words. A special thank you also to Trae Dorn and the Nerd and Tie Podcast network for supporting our show.

If you enjoyed this series, and want to hear more investigative stories like this, please take a minute to review us on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen. You can also pledge a few bucks to us on Patreon. It directly funds the show and allows us to make it without running ads, and allows you to hear these episodes early. To those of you who are already Patreon members, thank you for supporting our work.

Our website, where you can find links to the material and documents we referenced this week, is Cool And Unusual Punishment dot com.