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VIDEO: This is peak Scientology, when its big donors were going to clear the planet

What a treat we have for you today. If, that is, you appreciate dauntless, defiant, and resolute Scientology at its most galactically arrogant.

This is peak Scientology. This is 2005.

Was church leader David Miscavige ever more ascendant? Just think about it. It was in 2005 that his bromance with Tom Cruise was just about at its height, and he banished his own wife that year for daring to be bothered by it.

Miscavige had, the year before, finally put the Lisa McPherson mess behind him with a legal settlement, and he’d started a prison of his own making for his backstabbing highest-ranking lieutenants, which came to be known as The Hole.


Miscavige, by 2005, was simply untouchable. Sure, there was the flap with the Time magazine cover story in 1991, but since then he’d won the brass ring by securing tax exemption for the church in 1993.

In 2005, Valeska Paris was still stuck on the Freewinds. Leah Remini and Mike Rinder hadn’t yet defected. Tommy Davis was just beginning his role as brash media brawler. And Tom Cruise was going on his disastrous stint as church ambassador with his Today show fiasco and jumping on Oprah’s couch.

That was all Miscavige’s doing, his former executives tell us. And in 2005, Miscavige felt invincible.

And the best part about today’s video? Miscavige isn’t in it.

Maybe that’s what makes this look into the past especially interesting: It was still a time when Miscavige allowed others to take the stage. In this case, it’s Lauri Webster (pictured, above).

Mike Rinder, at his blog, has described Lauri Webster as being known for her years of pushing for donations to the Super Power project, an effort that took suspiciously long to complete. Rinder has said that David Miscavige never wanted to finish the fundraising and actually complete the Super Power Building, because the money was just too good.

Here, in 2005, it’s already been ten years since the project began, with no end in sight, and a celebration is held to mark the occasion. It would be another eight years, in 2013, before the building was finally completed and dedicated.

But on this night, Webster is still encouraging the people in the audience to become “Cornerstone” donors ($35,000), and she singles out the couple that had, so far, given the most: Bryan and June Zwan.

Here’s what the good Professor Touretzky has to say about Zwan: “Bryan Zwan was the founder of Digital Lightwave, a Clearwater, Florida company that was involved in several scandals resulting in lawsuits and SEC action. Details can be found at Zwan’s problems stemmed directly from his involvement in the Church of Scientology… At the height of Zwan’s problems he was employing Denise Miscavige Licciardi in a management capacity.”

Yes, Denise Licciardi (now Denise Gentile) is David Miscavige’s twin sister, and she also got caught up in Digital Lightwave’s shenanigans. More recently, she showed up in a video we posted here.

In today’s video, you’ll see Webster call up the Zwans to accept their big-ass trophy for being the largest donors to Super Power, and each of them give speeches. All the talk about clearing the planet and all of the other Scientology lingo is just the best.

As Rinder pointed out, Miscavige never wanted the fundraising on Super Power to stop, and by 2011, the Tampa Bay Times estimated, the church had raised about $145 million for an edifice that was supposed to cost $100 million to build. And by then, the Zwans and the $7.5 million they’d put into the project had been eclipsed by Scientology’s richest parishioner, Bob Duggan, who had forked over $12 million.

According to Touretzky, the Zwans later left Scientology and regretted their involvement. Bryan Zwan died in 2015.

But in today’s video, he’s still on top. He and June are saving the planet. And Lauri Webster is urging everyone in the room to give so much that night that the fundraising would be complete. (Shya, right.)


So please, soak up peak Scientology, and let us know what stands out for you.



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Source Code

“It’s my belief that in a good society every child ought to be equipped with and taught to fire a sawed-off shotgun.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 20, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys


“BIG LEAGUE: A lot of SO people do not realize that we play in the Big League. It’s not from choice. We are apparently considered a prime threat to those who run things from behind the scenes. A new estimate based on new data of the money spent to knock us out is at least 20 million pounds. Your concept of security and concept of snap and pop on operations and actions should be scaled upward to match the Big League. We are so tiny in numbers we have to make up for it in brilliance and efficiency. No other group on the planet gets the simultaneous international attention that we do. We cave in the pressure against us by highly effective operation of orgs and ships. And it is gradually giving ground. We will win in 3 years IF we play it with Security, brilliance and efficiency on all our parts.” — The Commodore, May 20, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Scientology is, of course, a body of data. It gives theory and application so one can cause a betterment through auditing and other methods. Scientology is not the cognitions of PCs and OTs. While the wins of PCs and OTs may give a stat for the org, Scientology belongs to L. Ron Hubbard, and the cognitions belong to those who had them.”


Past is Prologue

1998: Scientologist and U.S. TV star Jenna Elfman was interviewed by Barbara Walters this week. “Elfman: What’s great about Scientology is, there’s you, right? And you’re always you. But as you go through life, you know, you have the betrayals and the losses and the things that start clouding up. And what Scientology does is it helps take away all that stuff so that you can just be you again, you know, and live as you with your viewpoints and stuff. Walters: What do you say to people who say it is a cult, it is a dangerous cult? Elfman: I usually laugh. Because I’ve seen so many people get off drugs, become literate, you know, finally for the first time, you know, rehabilitate their marriage or gain their self-esteem back. I mean, to me that makes me cry sometimes when I look at the successes and the beautiful things that happen to people. That’s why, that’s why I so know what it does for people, you know? People can say whatever they want because it is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and it makes me happy.”


Random Howdy

“If you want some major lulz, google ‘David Icke forum Scientology’ and get ready to read the 12-foot shape-shifting reptilian fanboys make fun of the immortal super powered Thetans. it’s a hoot.”



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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference May 31. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury. Additional charges also referred to grand jury after January 5 assault while in jail.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 2.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court.
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.’ Valerie’s motion for reconsideration denied on March 15.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Next hearing scheduled for June 29.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior 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] Day three of the Danny Masterson prelim: Jane Doe 3’s cross-examination continues
[TWO years ago] Leah Remini to Jane Doe after dismissing suit against Scientology: ‘You let no one down’
[THREE years ago] A paradox of apathy and zealotry: What props up Scientology, from within and without
[FOUR years ago] Russia’s ineffective Scientology crackdown includes smearing foreign leaders
[FIVE years ago] Scientology forks over phone numbers to federal judge, who puts his foot down again
[SIX years ago] Scientology gets judge disqualified in forced-abortion lawsuit and wants recent order voided
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s wealthy donors play royalty in Italy while Paulette Cooper takes San Diego
[EIGHT years ago] Marc Headley returns to Scientology and finds a whole new ballgame
[NINE years ago] Your Hot Scientology Event in Los Angeles Tonight
[TEN years ago] Ursula Caberta on Scientology: ‘You Have to Be Always Watching Them’


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 2,670 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,175 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,725 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,715 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,606 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,912 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,781 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,555 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,886 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,359 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,675 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,241 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,160 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,328 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,908 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,170 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,206 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,921 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,446 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 801 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,976 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,527 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,676 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,996 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,851 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,970 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,326 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,629 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,735 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,133 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,009 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,592 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,087 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,341 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,450 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 20, 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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