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!



tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO

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



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18 comments
Schockenawd
Schockenawd

Okay, so it's interesting to see Rinder finally allow some truth to pass his lips, after all the garbage he spewed while he was inside.  But, it's still less than satisfying to me.  I mean, where is the contrition?  There was a lot of harm done.  A lot of harm.  I have no doubt that some of the private (read: unrecorded) discussions between Rinder and Minton would have made us mere mortals shudder.  Can you say "mental waterboarding"?

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

That Hollywood Reporter article is terrific. I remember the days when the church had many of those buildings sitting there to rot, not a piece of toilet paper in the bathrooms, with staff  who worked for little to no money while all of the profits were siphoned up to Hubbard and "International Management, before the IRS cave-in in 1993.

I remember the rats in the basement of the cedars bldg, where they held the 'spiritually based 'Purif' program ( same as used in Narconon as a detox sweat program). I lived in the Chateau Elysse aka The Manor Hotel when the celebrities were few, before the big campaign to take over Hollywood, when all they had on Hollywood Blvd was the Guarantee Building aka Testing center and that rat trap next door, both in terrible shape. The Manor was where the FBI raided the church's legal dept in 1977 or so and nothing much had been done since then the church stole all the missions and their monies, when Hubbard was off the scene and in hiding back in the early 80's.

With the IRS on their backs, that's when the inurement money flows to Hubbard stopped.Since the incoming money had to go somewhere, the church began to use some of it for building upgrades, despite the fact that the membership was declining and inflow of monies continued to decline. Over the years, to cover the fact that there was still an ongoing decline in membership, the church kept buying or mortgaging new properties, land, buildings.  Just an apparency, a facade. Scientology is dying more and more every day. If they had to pay property taxes on each of what they own, they would be in forclosure on more than one of those properties in Hollywood, for sure.

Scilonschools
Scilonschools

I just read the New York Times Sunday Book review by Gary Wills, titled "Scientologists, Catholics and More Money than God"  - Truly stunning reviews on two books jointly (Inside Scientology being one), a great philisophical review of another New York publication!!New York seems to be leading the way for Scientology jounalistic exposure these days!

Expelled4Life
Expelled4Life

The Scientology celebrity that seems to get most overlooked  is Fox's Greta Van Susteren. This irks me as her Scientology donations help support the Sea Org and the Sea Org has firm policy that a female Sea Org member must abort her child if they want to retain their job. I've personally observed Greta being waited on hand and foot by female Sea Org Members at the Church's Clearwater facility (I believe Greta is an "OT VII"). So when I see Greta palling around with Sara Palin up in Alaska or with Palin on her bus it makes my blood boil as their relationship is obviously more than just as a politician and reporter. Someone needs to ask Palin about this at some point as she seems to be very, very close to Greta. In fact I think Greta's high powered attorney husband set up Palin's first PAC.

Tamasinsp
Tamasinsp

Mike Rinder, former head of OSA, originally the Guardians Office and we are supposed to believe him? Really? How many people believed in L. Ron Hubbard? And look how that turned out!

Chuckbeatty77
Chuckbeatty77

Cutting edge Mark Bunker, who deserves a HUGE thankyou in the whole Scientology history exposing history, thankyou Mark!!!     This is unbelievably what we all hoped Mike WOULD say, and now Mike talking to Mark, for Mark's documentary, boy if ANY alive (since sadly Bob Minton millionaire who took an interest in exposing Scientlogy and who DID help give the room for SO MANY top people, Stacy Young , Robert Young, Jesse Prince, those 3 alone, are battleship sinking earlier TOP ranks ex Scientology ex "Sea Org" staffers who Minton supported, not to mention the longer term giants of giants, in my opinion, Gerry Armstrong and Arnie Lerma [Arnie's site is STILL the BEST internet site compendium of past media the last several decades  on Scientology BAR NONE), I get lost in all the sub explanations sorry, but Mike Rinder talking to Mark Bunker, GODDAMN, that is truly one of MY goals, thankyou Mike Rinder, thankyou Mark Bunker for staying with the Scientology story, THANKYOU Tony Ortega , personally, for your YEARS of staying with the story.   This is finally coming to something us people who LIVED our 2 and 3 decades and more in Scientology's religious order, the "Sea Org", who want the truth finally told, can't thankyou all enough:    Mark Bunker, Mike Rinder, (all the years of people like Gerry, Arnie, Bob Minton [rest his soul]. Roberty Young [rest his soul], Stacy Young, alt.religion. scientology brilliant critics, Chris Owen, Dave Touretsky, Hartley, Eldon (rest his soul), all the others who've died trying to tell this story, GODDAMN, for Mike to admit the details in THIS video snippet, we knew this, but this IS finally the truth Voiced, thankyou Village Voice!!!!---    Chuck Beatty, Scientology "admin" scriptures "expert", 1975-75-2003, Pittsburgh.

Scilonschools
Scilonschools

Were Daniel Miller's reponses from Tommy Davis written or face to face?

mjm
mjm

I'd like to know what the Scientologist celebrities REALLY think of the cult, when Tommy Davis isn't lurking in the corner watching their every move and is waving a big fat paycheck in their faces.

Tilman
Tilman

He calls him "LeBlow", although his name is Lebeau / Lubow :-)

However, what Mike Rinder is telling isn't new, it was already shown in court cases 10 years ago, that scientology was using the attorneys as "privileged" buffers for PI ops.

ClamOnAHalfshell
ClamOnAHalfshell

Very apt. $cn has always been a smoke screen....Smoke and mirrors. Don't look at the man behind the curtain!

ClamOnAHalfshell
ClamOnAHalfshell

Rupert Murdoch, head of Faux News, not my pal, and admittedly nobody's pal (very much like Miscarriage that way) has declared (<--ha ha see what I did there?) $cn an evil organization.  Will that effect Ms. Greta von S? Let's hope so....Let's hope it at least gets her panties in a bunch.

Gary Lee-Nova
Gary Lee-Nova

Precisely put, Tamasinsp! 

I have nothing but intense disdain for all of those evil weasels who continue to believe that salvation will be found (and sold) in the paranoid delusions of an amphetamine addicted psychopath.

For those that leave the cult and have realized and admitted that they were victims of a long con, I have nothing but compassion and support.

These retarded thugs from outer space working hard on creating a new "playing nice" image is simply nauseating.

A pox on all their houses!

Toddyjams
Toddyjams

There are less Scientology celebrities than Scientology professes (as usual) -- Nevertheless they should b held accountable for the brutal, malicious abuse the Scientology perpetrates against people they fear.

Jenna Elfman, Kirstie (shudder) Alley. John Travolta, Tom Cuirse --- they are all responsible.  So are the minor ones who are supposedly not Scientologists but take their money  like Martin Kove and Philip Proctor, who has fallen from the grace of free -speaking people.   That used to Philip Procotr's  his main schtick (free speech and lambasting abuse and political terror)

These are sorry days indeed.

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Tilman, another hero in the early history of exposing scientology on the internet to the world.. Nice to see you posting the facts again.

Thing is, it's nice as well to hear Rinder admit it, lol. We've come a long way.....

Sleaze Busters
Sleaze Busters

David Lubownot so Private InvestigatorCA PI License # 2439423638 Lyons Ave. # 401  Santa Clarita, CA 91321

what an upstanding guy (not)

Ghost of Charlie
Ghost of Charlie

      If you look at the police report filed in Texas the squirrel busters told the officers Elliot Ableson was financing them...given to the Officers with the address of a drop box (Not Ablesons Law Firms real address)..they still pull that scam.Its a convenient cover...a Lie they know that will go unchecked..and they abuse it over and over

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