Scientology Takes Advantage of a Clearwater Politician's Death

Discussion in 'Fair Game Reports and Personal Experiences' started by grimnirr, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. grimnirr Member

    Not sure that this it the right forum, but here goes, anyway.

    Scientology is using a memorial for my best friend, Shelly Leonard, to get good press, with the assistance of her stalker ex boyfriend and campaign manager. Shelly was not a Scientologist, and thought the Scientologists were (frankly) a bunch of dangerous scam artists, lunatics, and assholes. She wasn't ever rude to any of them, because she just wasn't that kind of person.

    Shelly Leonard died of complications of cancer a week ago. Her family did not want an obit published locally (St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL) as they knew it would result in press attention, and a chance for her ex-boyfriend and former campaign manager, Van Farber, to get his name in the paper and do some fundraising in her name. The funeral home published an obit anyway. The Tampa Bay Times published an article full of quotes from her ex. The Scientologists have donated the use of the Fort Harrison Hotel for a "celebration of her life" to benefit the Neighborhood Coalition to Benefit the MLK Center, to be held on February 25th . Her family and closest friends were not contacted or notified, and none believes this event should take place. The part about benefiting the MLK Center is the only thing about this that's OK: Shelly fought very hard as a candidate for the Florida state House of Representatives to keep the center open, and continued to work with the MLK Center after the campaign was over. With the $35 admission to the event, many of the people who she wanted to benefit by keeping the MLK center open would not even be able to afford to attend. She would not have wanted that.

    I think I know who the Scientology connection is. In December, after Christmas, Van showed up in Shelly's hospital room. She didn't want him there, and wouldn't leave when he was told to leave. She had to be a confidential patient after that, and was moved to a different room. Several people showed up after that to find what room she was in. The last one was a Scientologist "minister", who got up due to the exception hospitals seem to have for "clergy". I took his business card. I am sure I can find it.

    This isn't part of the horrors that Scientology inflicts on the people it cons into joining. It's a disgusting act perpetrated on a person who can no longer defend herself, who was never a part of their organization. Shelly was very well liked across political boundaries, and these abusive scum have joined with another abusive scumbag to use her even after she has died.

    After I found out about this event, I was stunned for a while. This morning, I thought of the work Anonymous has done to expose Scientology. I thought you all might like to know.

    Here is the article:

    Most of the information in this article is factually incorrect. Shelly's son's ages are wrong, and they don't live in Michigan. She did not die peacefully without pain: she died in awful pain and struggle. Van Farber was not there to know how she died, and was most certainly not her friend. Zell Savitz was not there in her last stages. The Church of Scientology may have agreed with her stance, but I think we all know why they are doing this.

    If anyone wants to know more, please reply. I will check in.
    • Like Like x 17
  2. conatus Member

    Welcome, grimnirr and thanks for this news. You are in the right place.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. hushpuppy Member

    Welcome to WWP grimnirr!

    Nothing is sacred for this opportunistic organization.

  4. grimnirr Member

    Thank you very much. I am really at a loss here - what's being done is so unbelievable, I can't even think of an appropriate response. So many assholes circling around trying to squeeze some kind of benefit for themselves out of her suffering - I can't even comprehend it. Nobody involved even tried to reach out to her family to see what they would want. The Scientologists are really the icing on the cake here. They've absolutely nothing to do with her, nothing at all.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Malory Member

    Sorry for your loss Griminirr.

    Have you thought about contacting the Tampa Bay Times yourself? Journalists can only go on the info they're given and probably wouldn't have wanted to contact the family directly at such a difficult time, especially since the story seemed innocent enough at face value.
    • Like Like x 3
  6. xenubarb Member

    Condolences on the loss of your friend Shelly. I've seen this kind of thing before, and it's always repugnant.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. grimnirr Member

    Thank you, Malory. I called Mike Brassfield, the journalist who wrote the article, and left him a polite but long message explaining the situation. There's no way he could have known any of this. He hasn't called back yet, but it is the weekend. Maybe he will call on Monday.
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  8. amaX Member

    hey, grimnirr. clearwater protester here. just keep trying to call Brassfield. honestly, there's probably no sense in even taking the time to protest this event---if they have it after everyone complains. there are very few people who attend events at cult buildings. we'll harpoon the comments section on that article.

    let's see how this plays out before we try to hold a protest that night, okay?

    I am so sorry for your loss.
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  9. Anonymous Member

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  10. Anonymous Member

    Who is handling her arrangements? That's the person who will have the most say in this matter?
  11. Anonymous Member

    I am so sorry for your loss grimnirr and disgusted that this memorial has been planned at the Fort Harrison. You may also want to try contacting Tom Tobin tobin at
  12. Elronious Member

    May peace be with her.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. grimnirr Member

    Her parents and sister are handling her arrangements, up in Michigan. They didn't want to do anything down in Florida, specifically because they were afraid something like this would happen. Her sister has commented on the article; I will encourage her to call the journalist as well.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. grimnirr Member

    Thank you. I will keep trying to call Brassfield, and to contact Tom Tobin.
  15. anonymous612 Member

    Contacting Brassfield is the right idea. If nothing else, he may at least edit that article. Unfortunately, since the event is on their own property I don't think there's anything we can really do to stop it. Maybe if their use of her name was financially infringing on the family's use of her name...which would be awkward for other reasons.

    As far as protesting the event itself, it's a possibility, but not really productive. The only attendees will be Scientologists or near-Scientologists. The "real" Clearwater residents won't be going anywhere near that.

    Silver lining, we do seem to have the comments of that article well in hand.
    • Like Like x 3
  16. grimnirr Member

    I think it's probable that people who worked on Shelly's campaign, many of whom are members of the Democratic club at Top of the World, might go despite the venue. People from the MLK Center might go also. I don't know if a protest would be productive or not - it wouldn't stop the event - but it might let the people who are going because they loved her and cared about her and were grateful for what she did know that this event is a mockery, and does not honor her memory.
  17. Anonymous Member

    Will the Nation of Islam be there?
  18. grimnirr Member

    I don't think so. The people she worked with at the King center were mainly Christians, Jews, or undeclared. There may have been some ordinary Muslims, too. She never mentioned anybody from Nation of Islam, or even so much as a bowtie.
  19. xenubarb Member

    It'd be a shame if some scared skunks got in there before the event. Just sayin...
    my little mustelid brovvers would love to help out, I'm sure!

    • Like Like x 1
  20. Anonymous Member

    The thing is, Scientology has been absorbing the Nation of Islam, so it's not unlikely that some of them will be there as part of Scientology's PR operation.
  21. grimnirr Member

    WOW. I did not know that! NOI's teachings about the origin of man are as weird as anything Scientology has, and they certainly have the business-as-cult model down. It makes sense in a strange way that a person who would be susceptible to one would be susceptible to the other.
    • Like Like x 1
  22. whitesand Member

    I don't know anything about the NoI, but there is a mosque on N. Ft. Harrison Ave. right across from where the Co$ Winter Wonderland is held. Just sayin'.

    Perhaps the Democratic Club president at TOTW could send out an e-mail to the members saying the family is opposed to the event at the Ft. Harrison. If the family is agreeable, perhaps the business address of the MLK center could be included as a place to directly send memorial gifts.

    This event already has fail written all over it. I agree with 612 that most locals wouldn't step foot inside the Ft. Harrison hotel for all the tea in China. Remember recently when Ruth Eckerd Hall tried to have a fund raiser there for the Capitol theater, and they received an avalanche of negative e-mails and had to call off the event? LOL.
  23. Anonymous Member

    Would it be possible to contact some of these people and inform them before the event? They could spread the message so that the only people attending will be clients of the Scientology corporation.
  24. grimnirr Member

    It would be possible to contact the TOTW Democratic club to let them know. Unfortunately, this Van Farber fellow who is organizing the event is a mover and shaker in that club, and they are going to trust him. Unless, perhaps, one of Shelly's family contacts them directly. It's a good idea.
    • Like Like x 2
  25. Random guy Member

    Would it be possible to get him or some other journalist interested in an article on how the cult want sto use her death to raise money for themselves? The name Tony Ortega springs to mind...
    • Like Like x 1
  26. Anonymous Member

  27. anonymous612 Member

    I see her sister is commenting on the TBT article. She might be willing to talk to TOWT Democratic.

    Uh, yeah, because there are muslims in Clearwater. It's no more affiliated with Scientology than Peace Memorial Presbyterian is, where they slashed the reverend's tires. Nation of Islam definitely, definitely does not = Islam. NoI is a black supremacist anti-semitic cult. Birds of a feather flock together, I suppose.

    And technically speaking, that's actually an Albanian cultural center.
    • Like Like x 1
  28. xenubarb Member

    Tobin and Childs are THERE. Tony's in Noo Yawk City.
    • Like Like x 1
  29. anonymous612 Member

    Yeah, talk to Tobin and Childs. The SPT/TBT was always known for letting their reporters get really super into a pet subject and report on it boatloads even if the rest of the paper's all "meh." They used to have a guy that made the local Dept VA hospital's life hell for years, pointing out their every flaw, jumping on every mistake, it even overflowed to the national level. And after he left, they've barely reported on it since. Scientology is Tobin and Child's pet subject, they'd be the ones to talk to.
    • Like Like x 1
  30. grimnirr Member

    Thanks for the tips on Tobin and Childs. This thing just gets weirder: I smell a scam.

    I can't find anything at all on this Neighborhood Coalition to Preserve the MLK Center. There is this article, reprints of this article, and a post on a Clearwater local forum from January 2012 from a "S. Leonard" - but that definitely was not Shelly. She was already too ill to be able to speak or type, let alone be making posts on community forums. And that's all. Nothing. I checked the list the IRS has of nonprofits eligible to receive tax deductible donations, and this organization isn't on that list, either. The Better Business Bureau has nothing about them. As far as I can tell, this Neighborhood Coalition does not exist.
    • Like Like x 2
  31. grimnirr Member

    And worse still, as if better could be expected?

    One of Shelly's family members called them to ask them to call off the event. They claimed that this is just a fundraiser and has nothing to do with Shelly, and mischaracterized the nature and length of the relationship between Van and Shelly. This family member mentioned cease and desist orders and the woman at the Hotel said "just try", "it's baloney", and hung up.

    I asked if I could put this here and got the OK first. This is crazy. Normal channels have been tried and aren't working. I am so mad, I could spit.
    • Like Like x 1
  32. Malory Member

    It's disgusting that friends and family are having to deal with this shit at a time when they should be left alone to grieve.
    • Like Like x 2
  33. Anonymous Member

    Alright smart people, what can we do?
  34. grimnirr Member

    Maybe someone could call the MLK Center in Clearwater and see if they know who the Neighborhood Coalition to Preserve the MLK Center is, and if they know about and approve of this fundraiser. If they don't know about it, it's a big red flag. If they do know, maybe they can provide more information - like proof of their registered 501(c) status or copies of their 990 forms. It's important that the name is exactly right - lots of scam charities pick names that sound almost exactly like the name of a real charity. This article directed people to make out checks to that specific name.
    • Like Like x 2
  35. grimnirr Member

    Update: Brassfield, the journalist who wrote the original article, has been in contact with the family. He understands the problem now, and will keep looking into it. That's a good first step.
    • Like Like x 7
  36. Anonymous Member

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  37. Anonymous Member
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  38. Anonymous Member

    It is!
  39. Anonymous Member

    • Like Like x 1
  40. Anonymous Member

    Really? Have these people been verified as actual associates of Leonard, or just some people who hijacked the bandwagon?
    • Like Like x 1

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