Uncovering the secrets of Scientology

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Interesting, compact write-up of Richard Leiby’s discovery of Scientology’s Clearwater scandal:

“During his stay at the now defunct Tampa Bay-area newspaper, Leiby was sent to the nation’s capital to uncover details of a wide-ranging federal probe. Church leaders were accused of trying to destroy government records that portrayed Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, in an unfavorable light.

The investigation, which resulted in the conviction of 11 high-ranking church officials – including Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue – was jumpstarted when Gerald Wolfe, one of the conspirators, was arrested in June 1977 for using a forged government identification card. After subsequent raids by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed the church had illegally procured documents ranging from files on federal judges to agency personnel data, the story of the infiltration of the federal government began to come to light. […]

Among the things he discovered over the course of his reporting were plans by leading Scientologists to take control of the Clearwater city government. Now a major center for the church, Clearwater contains Scientology’s spiritual headquarters, known as Flag Land Base. But back in the 1970s, Scientology was still a nascent force in the central Florida city, much to the chagrin of then-mayor Gabriel Cazares, who quickly became an enemy of the church’s leaders.

What Leiby uncovered about the Clearwater conspiracy, he said, was explosive.

“I was able to get out of the courthouse more than 40,000 documents of internal church material which laid out a very deliberate scheme to take over the city of Clearwater,” Leiby said, referring to what became known as Operation Goldmine. “When I say ‘take over,’ I mean frame the mayor in a hit-and-run accident so that [he] would be neutralized, because he was an anti-Scientologist.”

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This post was last updated: Apr. 9, 2010