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The presidential candidate, the controversial guru, the Scientology lawyer — and us!

[Tulsi Gabbard, Chris Butler, and Anthony Glassman. Not pictured: Your proprietor]

We had a fun surprise last night when we realized that Hawaiian media has been buzzing about a story that had a slight connection to, well, us.

You might have heard that among the hordes of people who have announced their bids or are thinking about running for president on the Democratic ticket in 2020 is a US representative from Hawaii and the first Hindu member of Congress, Tulsi Gabbard, 37.

Gabbard announced her candidacy on January 11, but already she’s run into some strong headwinds from the media. There was a piece in the Intercept, for example, that dug into her connections with Hindu nationalists in India, and her tendency to have friendly associations with authoritarian regimes in Syria and Egypt, even though she’s positioned herself as a progressive candidate.

And the press has also been very interested in her family’s background with a Hare Krishna sect that calls itself Science of Identity Foundation, under the guidance of a man named Chris Butler, 70, also known as Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa.

Gabbard tends to play down her association with Butler’s sect, but her parents clearly were very involved in the small movement, which somehow combines vegetarianism, environmentalism, and a rabid hatred of gay people.


And you thought Scientology was weird.

This question about Tulsi Gabbard’s connection to Butler and the Science of Identity Foundation is not new. In 2015, the Huffington Post dug into the story, pointing out that when Tulsi’s father, Mike Gabbard, was running for the same congressional seat in 2004 and was hoping to upset an incumbent named Ed Case, a Honolulu magazine sent an email asking the elder Gabbard about his ties to Butler. His daughter Tulsi responded, saying “I smell a skunk. It’s clear to me that you’re acting as a conduit for … homosexual extremist supporters of Ed Case.”

In 2012 Tulsi broke with her father’s views on homosexuality and embraced marriage equality, but reporters are still asking questions about her ties to the controversial Butler.

“The Gabbard family’s ties to Butler still hound her — in the hallways of the Hawaii State Capitol, on blogs of political observers, on pages of online discussion forums, and in commentary sections of various news sites,” the Huffington Post said, and that was in 2015, well before the intense glare of a presidential run. In the fall, the New Yorker provided a lengthy examination of the controversy, and even got Butler to give a rare interview.

Then, on January 27, Hawaii’s largest daily newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, looked closely at those ties, pointing out that in a 2015 video, Tulsi Gabbard referred to Butler as her “guru dev,” which the paper said translated roughly as “spiritual master.”

Butler himself turned down an interview request from the newspaper. And the Star-Advertiser turned to cult expert Rick Ross…

Rick Ross, executive director of the Cult Education Institute, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that researches and advocates against destructive cults and movements, estimated he had been in contact with more than 100 people over the years who were involved in the group. He described Butler as a “dictatorial leader” who has exploited followers of his brand of religion.

“He is a hateful person. He is homophobic. He has said horrible things about the LGBT community,” said Ross. “And he is, to say the least, not exactly an icon of either idealistic or ethical living.”

The Science of Identity Foundation responded by having its attorney, Anthony Michael Glassman, threaten to sue the newspaper. Glassman complained that the newspaper was talking to sources who “paint our clients as charlatans and hypocrites.”

An alert local website realized that Glassman was not your run-of-the-mill libel attorney. He was, in fact, one of Scientology’s busiest lawyers.

“Gabbard Cult Hires Scientology Lawyer to Intimidate Hawaii Media,” the website titled its scoop, which came to our attention last night.


Oh, if our counterparts in Hawaii only knew.



In Scientology parlance, it’s known as the “Dead Agent Pack.” We first ran into it as a concept more than 20 years ago when we were writing our own story about Rick Ross.

Scientology didn’t like Ross very much. When we went to a talk Ross gave at a local university, we found that someone had stacked a pile of papers at the back of the room. They were packs of information about Ross, with documents about him going way, way back — including an arrest for theft when he was a teenager.

Ross explained to us that the pile of papers was his “DA Pack,” and wherever he went, Scientology would show up and make sure everyone had plenty of copies of them.

The practice comes right out of the policies written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, of course. In 1966 Hubbard wrote, “This is correct procedure: (1) Spot who is attacking us. (2) Start Investigating them promptly for FELONIES or worse using our own professionals, not outside agencies. (3) Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them. (4) Start feeding lurid, blood, sex, crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press.” And in 1974, Hubbard added: “If there will be a long-term threat, you are to immediately evaluate and originate a black PR campaign to destroy the person’s repute and to discredit them so thoroughly that they will be ostracized.”

Hubbard called it “Dead Agenting,” and it became a core principle for the way Scientology deals with people it considers enemies.

Around the year 2010, your proprietor became aware that Scientology had started to put together a DA Pack about us. It consisted of a letter that questioned our credentials as a journalist because many years earlier we had referred to the Church of Scientology as a criminal enterprise. The writer of the letter, a Beverly Hills attorney by the name of Anthony Michael Glassman, asked our editors at the time how they could employ a reporter who would say such a thing.

It was precious.

Anyway, in the years since then, whenever Scientology realized that a television program or magazine was talking to us for a story or a program, the church would send out a letter describing all of the reasons why it made Scientology unhappy that anyone would use us as a resource. And usually, those letters would be written by Glassman.

It was sort of funny and odd that this former assistant US Attorney had obviously been assigned to us, and wherever we went, he was sure to follow, even though he had never actually said a word to us directly. (Several other Scientology operatives have been assigned to our “case” over the years, including fake journalist Jim Lynch, private investigator Eric Saldarriaga, and several others, but Glassman has remained consistent over the years as the attorney assigned to handle us.)

Glassman handles other accounts, of course. In his epic book Going Clear, Lawrence Wright talked about Glassman coming to the offices of the New Yorker with Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis in 2010…

Leading the Scientology legal delegation was Anthony Michael Glassman, a former assistant US attorney who now has a boutique law firm in Beverly Hills, specializing in representing movie stars. On his website, he boasts of a $10 million judgment against the New York Times.

Two years later, Scientology used Glassman to threaten to sue Vanity Fair over the story about Tom Cruise and Nazanin Boniadi it was about to publish.

And Glassman was also running point when Scientology was in a panic about Lawrence Wright’s collaboration with director Alex Gibney and their film, also titled Going Clear, which was premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015.

In December, Glassman told the Daily Beast that all of the concern about Shelly Miscavige not appearing in public in more than a decade was misplaced. Glassman claimed that his partner Rebecca Kaufman had actually met with Shelly. (So why doesn’t Scientology simply put her in front of a camera or something? Glassman didn’t say.)

In other words, Anthony Glassman has been very busy for the Church of Scientology.

And hiring a guy like that might have seemed to Chris Butler’s Science of Identity Foundation like a smart move, but adding “Scientology lawyer” to the already disturbing mix of surreptitious political campaigns and gay-hating rhetoric dogging Tulsi Gabbard really isn’t doing her any favors.

We’re happy to talk to any of our Hawaiian counterparts who want to learn more about Mr. Glassman and his role as a Scientology attorney.

Just be aware, if Scientology finds out you’re talking to us, you’ll most likely be hearing from our Beverly Hills namesake.


Chris Shelton talks to Katrina Reyes

Says Chris: “This week I am joined by Katrina Reyes, former Sea Org member and now declared “suppressive person.” Katrina discusses her history entering the Sea Org at only 11 years old and how Scientology’s Sea Organization engaged in human trafficking and continues to do so to this day. We all have got to make our voices be heard to government officials about this if we ever expect to see any change.”


Start making your plans!


Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Catherine Bell, Chick Corea, and Nancy Cartwright]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] David Mayo, 1940-2017: Scientology’s top technical wizard and target of ‘Fair Game’
[TWO years ago] Fed up with Scientology disconnection? Be there to dedicate the ‘Call Me’ billboard Feb. 18
[THREE years ago] The particularly bad timing of Monique Rathbun’s decision to fire her attorneys
[FOUR years ago] The shocking case of Scientology mistreatment of the mentally ill you haven’t heard
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s drug rehab facility in Nevada sued over the usual litany of deceptions
[SIX years ago] Scientology Mythbusting with Jon Atack: The Tomato Photo!
[SEVEN years ago] Debbie Cook files to dissolve Scientology’s TRO: We talk to her attorney, Ray Jeffrey


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,348 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,479 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,981 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,461 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 524 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 412 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,719 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,587 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,361 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,135 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,481 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,047 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,967 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,134 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,715 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,975 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,015 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,727 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,253 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,342 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,482 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,802 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,658 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,777 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,133 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,435 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,541 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,944 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,815 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,398 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,893 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,147 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,256 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 2, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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