Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Wise Beard Man on the ballot in Scientology’s mecca? Mark Bunker on why he’s running

We were on the road last week when Mark Bunker announced that he planned to run for office in Clearwater. We finally had a chance to catch up with him, and asked if he might give us some kind of statement about why he wants to run. We’re very glad he responded with this message…

This is something that I have been thinking about since moving back to Clearwater at the end of 2013. In one of my earlier videos, I mentioned a possible run for mayor, but there are likely much better candidates for that. Before the last election, I actually started seriously thinking about running for city council but the timing wasn’t right. For the 2020 race, I could see retirement as an option which would free me up to campaign.

Then, in the middle of this rumination, Leah Remini invited me back onto her Scientology and the Aftermath show for the two-parter on Clearwater. During the taping, we were talking about the city’s stance toward Scientology. At one point Leah said, “If only someone local would run for office…” Then both Leah and Mike turned to me to finish the sentence “…MARK!”

I took that as a subtle hint.

A few months later I decided to take the plunge. I started attending community meetings. After I started showing up, I heard that Scientologists were suddenly returning to the meetings as well so they likely were suspecting something. I was going to hold off announcing a run until September but when Aaron Smith-Levin shared his story of how Scientology’s rep Mary Repper tried to keep him off a local board, I decided to step forward.


Now, I’m not a politician and I have plenty to learn. The council sets a vision for the city and ensures that projects are funded, services provided and the economy developed to keep Clearwater a great place to live and to visit.

I have a different background than most people who will have served on the council. I’m not a businessman or an attorney. I’ve been a morning guy on a Midwest radio station. I’ve written and produced radio commercials and comedy shows. I’ve acted on stage, in TV ads, voiced animated characters and worked in market research for the major movie studios while living in L.A. After my two years in Clearwater at the Lisa McPherson Trust from 2000 to 2001, I moved to San Diego and worked in TV news.

Scientology mocked the thought that I could be considered a journalist, but I won an Emmy for my work. After my win, I emailed the Chicago attorney who defended me when Scientology had me arrested while trying to interview two dentists defrauded out of $100,000 by Scientology. I wanted to see if she remembered that at one point, the prosecutor had me on the stand and snidely asked me if I had won any awards for my work and I replied, “No….not yet.” She remembered and we had a nice chuckle.

What I can bring to the job is the empathy that I feel for the underdog. Like way too many people, I have lived much of my life paycheck to paycheck. I feel I can represent the citizens of Clearwater with an understanding of life as it is for most of us. I have been fighting for the people inside Scientology for 20 years now because what the organization does with its policies of disconnection, forced abortions, freeloader debts, the RPF and so much more is just wrong. I’ve taken a stand, as so many of you have, to try to make a difference against an organization that is cruel and merciless at its heart.

Most of the people inside Scientology, if they are aware of me at all, likely hate me because they will have been told I am an evil, suppressive person. If elected, I promise to work as hard for the citizens of Clearwater as I have been for those inside Scientology that hate me. I want to solve problems and make life better for everyone in Clearwater.

The process of how to handle Scientology once in office is something I need to explore in the months ahead. I need to talk to lawyers, experts and everyone I can to see what is possible. One thing I have learned is that the only work that can be done between council members has to be done out in the open during public work sessions. You can’t get together and say, “Hey, how about this?”

One thing I’d like to see happen is a series of hearings akin to those held here back in 1982. Bring in some experts like Mike and Leah to testify about what the city needs to understand about Scientology and how to best respond. Now, if I bring that up at a meeting, I can see that immediately being voted down. I’d like to see if there’s a way to make those hearings happen.

The tax exempt status is a change that needs to be made at the federal level but is there a proper and legal avenue for the city to push for action? Certainly, putting all the Scientology properties back on the tax roll would make a big difference in the city.

What do you think? I’ll be reaching out to locals about this and other city issues of importance but I imagine you have some thoughts as well.

If elected, at least there will be someone on the council who understands the ins and outs of the organization that is the biggest stumbling block to downtown redevelopment.

Clearwater has an uncommon problem which requires an uncommon solution.

With your help, Clearwater could soon seat Wise Beard Councilman.

— Mark Bunker


Bonus items from our tipsters

Now that the court case has been settled — Scientology didn’t get the zoning it wanted, but it can still put a smaller clinic on the land it bought — Narconon Trout Run is hiring.


The icing on the cake!



HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

THURSDAY NIGHT OPPORTUNITY: This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. But we also want to point out that Cathy Schenkelberg’s “Squeeze My Cans” will be running at the Hollywood Fringe, and we encourage HowdyCon attendees to see her show on Thursday night, June 20. Tickets and more dates available here.

Friday night June 21 we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22. Note: You need to ask for the “family reunion” special rate.



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

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

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] Another sign Nation of Islam members are moving from Dianetics to full Scientology
[TWO years ago] Scientology caught red-handed breaking government restrictions — and without penalty
[THREE years ago] When you postulate upon a star: L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology’s funny made-up words
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s slush fund: Jeffrey Augustine takes apart the fictions of the IAS
[FIVE years ago] Scientology fires legal salvoes at the Garcias, and Vance Woodward fires back
[SIX years ago] What Scientologists at War Left Out: Some Annotations on Channel 4’s Documentary


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,481 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,610 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,114 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,634 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 654 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 545 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,852 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,720 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,494 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,268 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,614 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,180 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,100 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,267 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,848 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,109 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,148 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,860 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,386 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,475 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,615 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,935 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,791 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,910 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,265 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,568 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,674 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,076 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,948 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,531 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,026 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,280 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,389 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 18, 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email