Scientology's Top Former Spokesman Talks Spying; The Church's Hollywood Properties Probed
More amazing new material for Scientology watchers today. We only have time for a quick dispatch while we're out of the underground bunker and on the road.
First, Mark Bunker continues to release tidbits from the full-length Scientology documentary he's making, and yesterday dropped this meaty morsel: former top church spokesman Mike Rinder explaining how he oversaw a spying operation on businessman Bob Minton. (I'm rushing, so if you want background on Minton, you'll find plenty online, and I would wager that our commenters will also be happy to provide info.)
Also, The Hollywood Reporter weighed in yesterday with an eye-opening report about the church's properties in Tinsel Town...
THR scribe Daniel Miller put together a terrific report about the various historic properties owned by Scientology. It was especially impressive that he was able to calculate how much money the church saves each year on the Hollywood buildings it owns because of Scientology's controversial tax-exempt status:
According to data from the assessor's office, the church paid $43,359 in property taxes on the five buildings last year. Without the exemptions, it would have paid $265,650 -- good for an 84 percent reduction in property tax, or a savings of $222,291. The assessor's office did not supply THR with tax data on the church's 19 non-historic properties in Hollywood; these might also be entitled to property tax exemptions.
Miller also spent time with Scientology's real estate team, getting very interesting information about how the church purchases and refurbishes buildings, using, for example, the construction firm CB Richard Ellis.
Miller also got responses from Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis, and it's the first time in quite a while that we've heard anything from him. Is Tommy now back in the good graces of DM?
Anyway, my thanks to several of our readers who sent me tips on these developments. Keep them coming! I'm still keeping an eye on the old e-mail inbox while I'm out gallivanting around. Back online soon!
Click here to see all recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle'
The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation -- An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology's past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh -- A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology -- A masterful telling of Scientology's history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? -- Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology's Enemies List -- Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology -- An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam -- Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists -- How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller's Wild Ride -- Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration -- A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed
Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology's Retaliation is "Scary and Pathetic"
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy