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Florida legislator Chris Latvala goes after Tampa Bay Times for its Scientology reporting

[Florida Rep. Chris Latvala at a 2015 opening for a Scientology rehab]

Our thanks to ISNOINews for making us aware of a wild exchange that took place last night on Twitter between Florida Rep. Chris Latvala and Tracey McManus, reporter for the Tampa Bay Times.

In a series of tweets, Latvala attacked McManus and the Tampa Bay Times for its Scientology coverage, and that conversation has continued into today with Latvala also sending a tweet our way.

We’ve put it all into chronological order to help you understand what’s going on.

First, you might review a great piece Rod Keller wrote for this website in 2017 about how the Latvala family has long been a friend to Scientology in Florida politics, including Chris, who gave a speech at the opening of a new Scientology Narconon rehab in 2015. Speaking about the new clinic in Clearwater, Latvala’s endorsement can be found on Scientology’s website to this day:

“I have had the opportunity to talk to people who have completed the Narconon program,” said State Representative Latvala in reflecting on the impact Narconon has upon the individual. “They talk about leaving drug addiction for good and returning to their families clean and whole again. And I can’t wait to attend your Narconon graduations and behold the bright new lives and hopes that will spring forth from those doors. Our community needs this, and that is why I am very happy that Narconon Suncoast is here.”


Fast forward to yesterday, when Tracey McManus had a new story about how the Florida Legislature had announced that the state would be receiving about 5,500 digital books for children from the California company Age of Learning, which runs the program for toddlers ABCMouse.

She pointed out, however, that in September Age of Learning paid $10 million to settle a complaint from the FTC which accused it of making it very difficult for parents to quit the program after signing up for automatic renewals. Age of Learning was running what was called a “Roach Motel” — you could check in but never check out.

And not only had the Florida legislature ignored that when it decided to accept the free ebooks, but also, McManus pointed out, and here she gave us some credit, we’ve been pointing out for years that Age of Learning is really Doug Dohring, a wealthy Scientologist who has given at least $20 million in donations to the church.

Yesterday afternoon, Latvala went on the attack.


Tracey helpfully explained what Latvala was actually attacking the newspaper for.


Latvala then played the Soros card.



Tracey knows a red herring when she sees one.


Latvala: Why didn’t the newspaper point out the awful truth earlier? No fair.


And then an even more cryptic shot at the newspaper about its, um, funding?


Latvala takes another swipe at the Times for not being what it once was, which every newspaper that has ever existed hears just about every single day, we can assure you.



Tracey isn’t having it.


Latvala was also hearing it from others, and his responses were about as disingenuous.


Latvala here sounds just like his pals at Scientology, calling a reporter a bigot for reporting on one of the most controversial organizations ever.



Tracey isn’t having it, part two.


Latvala then trots out Scientology’s classic “but the Jews” thing…


…and Tracey immediately knocks it down — she’s covering a church that has its headquarters in the newspaper’s backyard.


Latvala tries to be helfpul? Sort of?



And now he tries to raise some doubts about Tracey’s actual reporting…


…and again, she’s not having it.


Latvala tried to justify his Soros reference to another tweeter, and Tracey explained how it was part of Latvala’s strategy to divert attention from the real issue.



Latvala keeps digging after the Soros thing.


And again, Tracey isn’t having it. Then, after another dodge from Latvala, Tracey calls it a night.


When we noticed the exchange this afternoon, we decided to make sure folks understood who was running interference here for Scientology, a politician whose family has long been close to the church.


Latvala then responded by pretending we had called him a Scientologist.



We weren’t having it.



Source Code

“The gross divisional statistic of HCO is letters out and letters in. Why? Because the Existence of an org is real to the public mainly by writing in and getting answered. The volume of letters out and letters in is wholly in the ability of HCO to control. After all, it is the HUBBARD COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE. When letters don’t go out in volume, the public and field don’t know the org is there. When letters come in and aren’t answered then the public jolly well knows the org isn’t there and gets ARC Broke about it as well! You can advertise. You must send out mags and these also say the org is there. But that personal communication to Joe, Joe’s reply and answering Joe is vital vital vital for Joe now knows you’re there.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 24, 1966


Avast, Ye Mateys

“ANCHOR: We will be at anchor until we leave Thursday evening. We will cut short our stay in the next port, arriving there the 26th and departing the 1st of March, giving us only 4 days there. This lets us take part in some celebrations in the port after next. Webspread will be very pleased — if he ever comes back.” — The Commodore, February 24, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“I have to say at this point I am wondering what a clean 10-year run of the Bridge as LRH intended and particularly the OT Levels might do for this planet and Scientology’s reputation. Imagine no quickie grades, allowing the PC to have his wins, correctly calling F/N’s, Ethics used to help rather than control or punish, attention to people rather than stats, OT levels where you don’t return home broke or ill, willing to take calls in the evening because you know it’s your Reg and friend down at the Org who is looking out for you and you know it. In the background of my mind the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon is playing. Imagine theta too.”


Past is Prologue

1997: In preparation for next week’s protest in Clearwater, members of Scientology’s OSA began calling on a.r.s participants this week. From Maggie Council: “I got mine on Tuesday. I didn’t particularly want to talk to Bennetta Slaughter, who claimed to be Lisa McPherson’s best friend, but I spent a few minutes on the phone with her. It was the things she didn’t tell me that bothered me. Like that she also was Lisa’s boss at AMC Publishing in Clearwater. Like that she had been sent to ‘handle’ me, to convince me not to attend the candlelight vigil. And it bugged me that, for someone who just lost her best friend, she was more interested in dead-agenting Lisa’s family than finding out what really happened to her friend, amid all the contradictions. She didn’t tell me anything substantial, anything that could be independently verified, or anything to make me wonder anything other than why she was wasting my time telling me all this. I felt sorry for her. OSA has given her a tough job and I don’t think she’ll succeed.”


Random Howdy

“I seem to recall that a fear of heights is an engram caused by the thetan-occupied clam remembering being dropped by a seagull.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson arraigned Jan 20. Next conf to set prelim, March 24.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed to March 2.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Charged in Brooklyn federal court on Feb 4. Arraigned on Feb 9. Pretrial conference set for Apr 29.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 30, Judge Kleifield granted Scientology’s motions to compel arbitration. March 8: Status conference.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs.
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.


SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] DRONE FLYOVER: Saturday’s Scientology ‘Ideal Org’ opening in Ventura, California
[TWO years ago] In Scientology, every dollar you own is under constant attack
[THREE years ago] Scientology fires back at the Garcias, but reveals absolutely bonkers ‘arbitration’ instructions
[FOUR years ago] Whale watching, 2017 edition: Who’s keeping Scientology from sinking?
[FIVE years ago] Monique Rathbun is on the clock at the Texas Supreme Court, and more in our legal roundup
[SIX years ago] New government release contains a surprise: L. Ron Hubbard flunked out of high school, too!
[SEVEN years ago] Monique Rathbun files motion for contempt against Scientology defendants
[EIGHT years ago] OSCAR NIGHT LIVE-BLOGGING: Scientology on the Hot Seat with John Travolta and ‘The Master’
[NINE years ago] Scientology on the High Seas: Hubbard Welcomes the New Meat!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,222 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,726 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,246 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,266 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,157 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,464 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,332 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,106 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,910 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,226 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,792 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,711 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,879 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,460 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,721 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,759 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,472 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,997 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 352 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,527 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,078 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,227 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,547 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,402 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,521 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,877 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,180 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,286 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,688 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,560 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,143 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,638 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,892 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,001 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 24, 2021 at 13:25

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, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), 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, 15 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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