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Designer Rebecca Minkoff’s involvement in a Scientology front is pretty perfectly bad timing

[Rebecca Minkoff at a Scientology front group gala on Saturday]

Yesterday, we had a pretty big scoop — a public statement from Leah Remini’s stepmother, Donna Fiore, about being harassed by Scientology operatives to turn over dirt about her stepdaughter. But we also had a secondary story, and it turned out to kick up some dust as well.

We noted that the Fialkoffs — a Queens dentist and his daughter who work tirelessly to infiltrate New York City’s schools with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s unscientific notions about drug abuse — had held their annual “Drug-Free Hero Awards” gala in Great Neck, New York, and that one of the people who appeared was longtime Scientologist and famous handbag designer Rebecca Minkoff.

After we posted Minkoff’s photo from the gala, we could practically hear the collective gasp of many of our readers who had no idea that their favorite designer was a Scientologist.

One reader in particular was horrified, and sent us this email…

I read your story this morning and had to send you a message – it was one photo and one caption that made me throw out three very expensive purses I am so ashamed I purchased In the first place.


I have been continually mortified at the abuses of the criminal organization called the Church of Scientology. I have read your book and read the Underground Bunker. And until this morning I never really connected my Rebecca Minkoff bags to Scientology (and Dr. David Minkoff of Lisa McPherson’s death too!).

I am officially trashing the purses I own, not giving them to any of my friends or giving them to a secondhand charity shop — these should go in the trash to rot in a landfill. And people should stop buying Rebecca Minkoff designs!

Yowza. That’s not a cheap form of protest, you can be sure. We went to Minkoff’s website and chose randomly the first three handbags that popped up under “new arrivals,” and they averaged $950 each.

We’re not sure how many people becoming hip to Scientology’s abuses would take a similar tack, but it got us to thinking about a couple of things. First, just how involved is Rebecca Minkoff in Scientology these days, and in what other ways are consumers unwittingly contributing to Scientologists who, there’s no doubt, are under intense pressure to turn over huge sums in donations.

As for Minkoff’s involvement, we spoke with Quailynn McDaniel, who we profiled earlier this year. McDaniel was a celebrity handler for the church, and Uri Minkoff, Rebecca’s brother, was one of Quailynn’s closest friends in Scientology.

“Rebecca’s involvement has increased over the years,” Quailynn tells us. “She wasn’t active until she got famous. Now the church has her deep in their pocket, but she didn’t start that way. Her brother Uri Minkoff came on as her CEO. He’s been a long time spy for OSA, trying to make up the damage his dad caused the church,” she says, referring to the Office of Special Affairs, the intelligence wing of the church. Quailynn had earlier produced OSA documents about her and her family submitted by Uri Minkoff, backing up her claim that he was submitting information about her. (Which, actually, all Scientologists are under pressure to do. Scientology is a snitching culture and it’s deeply embedded.)

Rebecca and Uri’s father is Dr. David Minkoff, a physician and Church of Scientology member, who was partly implicated in Lisa McPherson’s 1995 death. Minkoff had his medical license suspended for a year after it emerged that he had prescribed a sedative for McPherson at the request of the Scientologists caring for her at the Fort Harrison Hotel, even though he never actually examined her. If he had, perhaps he might have seen how bad her condition became. When Scientologists finally rushed McPherson from the hotel when it became clear that her condition was grave, they headed to the facility where Minkoff worked, bypassing closer hospitals, when she died along the way.

In November, our Rod Keller reminded us that David Minkoff is still in business and offering a wide variety of quack medical treatments. Uri Minkoff, meanwhile, has his own fashion line connected to his sister’s website, and Rebecca Minkoff continues to move up Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.”

Scientology’s Source magazine issue 231, from April 2014, indicated that Rebecca had finally gone “Clear.”

We sent her an email through her company website, asking if she plans to continue on to Scientology’s legendary “OT” levels, and we also asked her about getting so publicly involved in a Scientology front like the Fialkoff’s anti-drug group at a time when Leah Remini is making Scientology’s controversies so well known.

We’ll let you know if she gets back to us.

As to our second question, we have pointed out in the past a couple of other businesses that are owned by wealthy Scientologists, and in those cases, we have proof that millions of dollars is going into Scientology’s coffers.

We don’t know how much choice attorneys have when they select a court reporting service, but they should know that one of the most successful reporting firms, Atkinson-Baker, is owned by Alan and Sheila Atkinson-Baker, who just this past year reached the donor status of Diamond Laureate for giving a cumulative $15 million to the International Association of Scientologists, just one of several ways that wealthy donors give money to the church.

And there’s another way that consumers may be giving indirectly to Scientology, and it’s maybe the most troubling of all.

At the end of 2015, Doug Dohring and his family reached the status of “Patron Laureate” for giving $10 million to the IAS. And why is Doug so wealthy? In part because parents around the country pay him $7.95 a month so their toddlers can learn on a gradient through the immersive service

Well, we don’t expect even with all the awareness Leah Remini is bringing to the public that these businesses will suffer much of a dent. But we at least want our readers to be forewarned.


Bonus items from our tipsters

We’re not familiar with this particular Training Routine. Perhaps one of our veterans can enlighten us about what’s going on here in this photo posted by the official Facebook page of the The Way to Happiness Foundation in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Actual caption: “No man is made more wretched than he who lives in the chaos of lies!” L. Ron Hubbard – The Road to Happiness


The Flag choir, trying so hard. How many Christians are going to fall for this? Plenty, probably.


Huge, if true.




Wow, we’re getting close to the start of HowdyCon 2017 in Denver. And we had a slight change in logistics from our caterer for our dinner on Saturday night, June 24. If you plan to go, make sure you have confirmed with Kim O’Brien, our coordinator, and visit our HowdyCon website where she has instructions for how you can pay for the dinner fee that night. You need to do that right away to make sure you’ll be included in the Saturday night festivities, which include:

— London-based Australian journalist Steve Cannane talking about his book Fair Game
— A spoken-word performance from former Sea Org official Claire Headley
— Cathy Schenkelberg performing for us scenes from her one-woman show, “Squeeze My Cans”

You don’t want to miss out, so please visit the convention page and get in contact with Kim.

HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25 at the Residence Inn Denver City Center. Go here to start making your plans.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,773 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,530 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,876 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,370 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,410 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,122 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 648 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,737 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,877 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,197 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,172 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 528 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,830 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 937 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,339 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,212 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 793 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,298 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,542 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,651 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on June 6, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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