On January 20, in a conference room at the Sonnenalp Resort in Vail, Colorado, a significant encounter took place, and it seemed like an unmistakable sign that the case against Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute (CAI) is ramping up.
Representatives from CAI were in town to make a rare public appearance, one they hoped would be limited to discussion of the organization’s core mission: building schools in Central Asia. Mortenson and CAI, of course, are currently the focus of two major investigations—a civil suit alleging consumer fraud, and a probe by Montana’s attorney general into claims of mismanagement of a nonprofit—so it seemed likely that the controversy might be on the minds of some in the audience. To put it mildly, that turned out to be the case.
Two people were there representing CAI: Karin Ronnow, the group’s communications director and a former reporter at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and photographer Ellen Jaskol. Together they staged a 90-minute talk, acco...