City Councilwoman and Manhattan Borough President candidate Margarita Lopez appears to have been caught steering hundreds of thousands of city dollars into a “medical” center tied to the crackpot cult Scientology.
Meanwhile, Scientologists have been returning the favor, pumping almost $100,000 into her campaign account — or 25 percent of its total.
Quid pro quo?
Well, The Post’s Stefan C. Friedman has unearthed an e-mail suggesting strongly that the cultists have been soliciting their friends to kick in to the Lower East Side lawmaker’s campaign kitty, on the grounds that doing so “WILL DEFINITELY PAY BIG DIVIDENDS” — or so the e-mail reads.
We won’t pretend to know what that means, exactly.
On the other hand, it would behoove the city Department of Investigation — to say nothing of the Manhattan DA’s office — to find out.
Scientology, of course, is the “religion” started by L. Ron Hubbard. Its luminaries include such intellects as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.
Capitalizing on the tragedy of 9/11, Cruise co-founded the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. The project employs a method proposed by Hubbard in his book “Clear Body, Clear Mind”: Patients give up traditional medicines and instead take long sauna baths and exercise. The project has been dismissed as ineffective by the FDNY, the firefighters unions and most in the medical community.
When it was privately funded — from its inception in September of 2002, up until last summer — the harm was limited. If you wanted to put your health in the hands of people who believe in “body thetans” and other mumbo-jumbo . . . well, that was your business.
But then, after a hearing at which Lopez heard testimony from Scientologist “doctors,” she started steering city money into the group’s bank account.
$30,000 in June of 2004.
$300,000 in December of 2004.
And another $300,000 just last month.
That was rewarded in Scientology-linked giving to Lopez campaigns:
$38,000 from donors affiliated with Scientology, raised at a January fundraiser in Florida.
More money from a Scientology-linked fund-raiser in California.
All told, 84 people with ties to Scientology have pumped some $96,000 into Lopez’s campaign for Manhattan beep.
So what the hell is going on, anyway?
All the chicanery in today’s City Council suggests the body might be a proper target for a RICO investigation.
That’s right: RICO — as in Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization, the subject of laws aimed at corrupt criminal syndicates.
Remember how City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (yes, the one who vaguely reminds you of Richie Rich) broke up a $1.6 million printing job into at least 150 small contracts — just so he wouldn’t have to put the job up for bid, as required by law?
These people have no respect for the law and even less for the taxpayers’ money.
When even the Scientologists have figured that out, maybe Manhattan DA Bob Morgenthau, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer or some other ambitious law-enforcement official should turn some gumshoes loose on what passes for New York City’s municipal legislature.