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Journalist John Connolly dies at 78, was outed in 2011 as Scientology spy by Mike Rinder

[John Connolly in 2013, photo by Rommel Demano/Getty Images]

The New York Post has reported that journalist John Connolly died Saturday at 78 after a brief illness, according to his longtime partner.

The Vanity Fair reporter was immediately lionized by New York scribes who praised Connolly, a former cop and Wall Streeter, as a legendary scoop machine who investigated everyone from Michael Jackson to Jeffrey Epstein.

But we will remember him chiefly for the outing he received from Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun as a longtime Scientology spy.

In 2011 at his blog Rathbun revealed that Connolly had been an asset for the church for “nearly two decades,” and to prove it he published an internal Scientology document written in 2006 by one of the church’s chief spymasters, Linda Hamel.

In the document, Hamel describes the report that Connolly had given her after investigating Andrew Morton, the British journalist who was then working on an unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise.


The implication of the document is quite clear: Connolly was working for Scientology, reporting on Morton, and looking for any opening they could use to discredit Morton before his book came out.

Journalist John Cook, who knew Connolly well, confronted Connolly with the information in the document, and Connolly claimed that it was all “bullshit.”

But Cook also talked to Mike Rinder, who had actually brought the document out of the church with him when he had defected in 2007. Rinder confirmed that Connolly had been used by Scientology for years, that he had been brought in by Scientology’s notorious dirty tricks operator, Eugene Ingram, and that of course Connolly was paid for his work.

“Connolly was a resource to deal with media problems,” Rinder told Cook. “Ingram used to tout Connolly’s virtues pretty often — ‘Connolly can handle this; he’ll find out what’s going on and he’s got lines into all media.’ That was something I heard many, many times. Ingram even met with Connolly at the Celebrity Center in Los Angeles.”

Cook talked to Chuck Beatty and Denise Brennan, who both said it had struck them that for years Connolly had pumped them for information about what was going on in Scientology and in critic circles without ever appearing to write a word about it.

And we also heard that from one of our favorite sources: Paulette Cooper.

Paulette was stunned when we told her about the Linda Hamel document and that Rathbun and Rinder had publicly identified Connolly as a Scientology spy. She said that Connolly had befriended her and for years had asked her to lunch when she was in New York, and had pumped her, for example, for information about Janet Reitman’s upcoming book on Scientology which came out in 2011.

Here again is the Linda Hamel document that Rinder brought out and Rathbun posted on his blog.

14 Feb 2006

Connolly was here in LA working on the Pellicano story and contacted Morton and met with him on the basis of gaining his cooperation to be interviewed for an article for Vanity Fair about the books Morton has done on celebrities including the one he is writing on Tom Cruise. Connolly wanted to see what Morton was like and get any information about where Morton is currently at with regard to writing the book and to see if Morton would agree to be interviewed for an article. Based on the meeting, Connolly said that Morton seems to have finished his research already and is busy writing the book.

Connolly told Morton that it would not be a puff piece and would show both sides including what would be said about Morton. (Connolly will use the article to investigate Morton’s past treatment of other celebrities, use of sleazy sources, etc. that would undermine Morton’s credibility). Morton said he would check with St. Martin’s Press to get their take on cooperating for the story. Morton seems to be interested in generating publicity for the book.

Connolly’s impression of Morton is that he is a serious writer and is a focused person but enjoyable to talk to. He knows how to use his charm to get people to talk. Morton also told him that it only took him five weeks to write the Monica Lewinsky book – so he is capable of churning out a lot in a short period of time.

Morton said that he thought that Tom Cruise was a good story and that is why he wanted to write the book. The reporter got the impression from talking with Morton that Morton has collected a lot of information about the Church and that this will be well covered in the book. Morton also mentioned that he has an assistant who is working for him.

Morton also said that he had met Paul Barresi a couple of times but did not go into the details of what Barresi said.


Connolly’s impression is that Morton is a formidable adversary who is not going to back down. He thinks that Morton has made up his mind already as to the angle of the book but did not specifically say what it was.

Morton mentioned that he had received a nasty letter from Bert Fields – he didn’t have any further comment about this.

Morton asked if Anthony Pelicano ever worked for the client (the Church). Connolly, who is an expert on Pelicano said “no” and he doesn’t think that Tom Cruise has ever met Pelicano. Connolly will be getting back to Morton to see what St. Martin’s Press says. He has been given background documents that we have on Morton and on Barresi who we know that Morton has been using.

This UK reporter that we have a line to has helped get information out about Morton hiring Paul Barresi. He is willing to continue to feed information and documents to the UK tabloids to discredit Morton. He made a proposal that he could rapidly write a pre-emptive positive book about Mr. Cruise, which he thought would undermine the one from St. Martin’s Press. However, when this idea of a pre-emptive book was checked with Tommy Davis, it was not something that he felt Mr. Cruise would want.

This UK reporter will continue to be used for feeding information and stories to the UK tabloids about Morton. There is a rumor about Morton no longer being with his UK publisher Michael O’Mara which will be checked into to see if there was a conflict or a falling out. This could possibly be another attack point on Morton if it is found that there was a falling out.

In the US Connolly, wants to do an investigative story and put a piece together on Morton and his use of sleazy sources in the books he has done about celebrities such as Madonna, the Beckhams and Tom Cruise. This would attack Morton on his reputation questioning the credibility of his sources.

Morton’s book came out in 2008. Pellicano went to prison in 2008 for wiretapping and was released in 2019. Paul Barresi at one time claimed that he had been John Travolta’s lover but then recanted it.


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Source Code

“You find many a girl — various stresses in the war you notice this: Some girl who was very much in love with some young man, and he got knocked off, something like that, and right away she becomes a lawyer — begins to talk in a rather husky voice. If you watch her a while longer, the next thing you know, she’s liable to start smoking cigars. You know? And in order to exteriorize her, you’d have to exteriorize her out of the body of a young man before you could exteriorize her out of the body she’s in. Now she doesn’t want to be in the body she’s in, so she’s not really in the body she’s in, and you just don’t have a dog’s chance of exteriorizing her out of that body. You say, ‘Be three feet back of your head.’ She’s not in it. So the whole command misses. You see that?” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 19, 1956


Avast, Ye Mateys

“1969 was the year of Out-Ethics. In 1970 I trust all SO members will wear their ethics hats. Every SO member has one. Every time we ease up or drop Ethics we get horrible problems and stats. It can be plotted on the Int GI. Fact is Ethics is madly out on the planet. Definition of some Earth wog leaders — somebody who is trying to get even with everybody else. Definition of psychiatry: the government’s method of getting even with the insane.” — The Commodore, January 19, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Imagine that you are strong enough to instantly destroy in absolute agony anyone who offers you the slightest offence. Once you have destroyed them then it is done. You cannot reverse it. Might you postulate inability in yourself after destroying a loved one who admired another’s body when they thought you were not looking? We do not trust ourselves to become OT again until we have learnt to control our destructive impulses. The latest OT rundown is not a solution. The solution is spending thousands of hours studying LRH tech and fully understanding and applying it.”


Past is Prologue

1997: The Associated Press reported that an Athens court has ordered Scientology to close its doors in Greece. “A copy of the ruling obtained by The Associated Press on Friday accused the church of operating under the cloak of a philosophic society to try to lure, brainwash and exploit members. ‘It is an organization with medical, social and ethical practices that are dangerous and harmful,’ Judge Constandia Angelaki wrote in her ruling. ‘It claims to act freely so as to draw members who subsequently undergo … brainwashing by dictated ways of thinking that limit reaction capabilities.’ Angelaki ruled on the case on Dec. 20 but the verdict was officially issued Thursday. The move followed numerous complaints from relatives of members of the church, which operated here as the Center of Applied Philosophy in Greece. They claimed the center transformed their kin into moody or suicidal automatons. ‘The case is a sham,’ Jentzsch wrote. ‘It is unfortunately reminiscent of the former junta that ruled Greece as a totalitarian state and the assault today is simply because the mission is not ‘orthodox’ according to the prevailing vested interests in Greece.'”



Random Howdy

“OT 7 is just sitting in a room talking to yourself and seeing if the needle reacts. You’d think after a couple of years of doing that they would just say ‘fuck it!’ and tell the case supervisor ‘The belfry is bat-free’.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for February 8. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), false imprisonment, aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Next hearing scheduled for January 18.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference January 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for February 11.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Next hearing February 15.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments held November 2, awaiting a ruling.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


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 BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. 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] Danny Masterson accusers want emergency halt on ‘religious arbitration’ to protect rape case
[TWO years ago] Georgia puts legislator who promotes Scientology anti-psych efforts on mental health panel
[THREE years ago] New Sea Org escapee says that Scientology still forcing abortions, decade after practice exposed
[FOUR years ago] More Scientology news is here: You won’t believe how fast this planet is being cleared!
[FIVE years ago] Scientology in hot water again for cutting down trees without permission
[SIX years ago] When the feds tracked down L. Ron Hubbard’s boast about getting rich by creating a religion
[SEVEN years ago] Earache my eye: A Scientology official’s excuses why he can’t fly for deposition in fraud suit
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: For the second year in a row, Scientology will have an ad in the Super Bowl
[NINE years ago] We Told You Jamie DeWolf Would Blow Up!
[TEN years ago] Scientology Spokeswoman Who Disconnected From Her Father Criticizes Scientology Victim Who Didn’t


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 2,550 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,055 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,575 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,595 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,486 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,793 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,661 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,435 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,766 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,239 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,555 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,121 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,040 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,208 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,789 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,050 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,086 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,801 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,326 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 681 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,856 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,407 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,556 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,876 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,731 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,850 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,206 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,509 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,615 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,013 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,889 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,472 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,967 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,221 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,330 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 19, 2022 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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