By Jen Heger - Radar Assistant Managing Editor
During a seven year period the Church of Scientology has given a powerful lobbyist $590k to appeal to Congress on a range of issues from a threat of religious freedoms in foreign countries, 9/11 rescue workers, to immigration, according to documents reviewed exclusively by RadarOnline.com.
The Church Of Scientology hired The Mitchell Firm in 2003 to lobby politicians about issues important to the organization. Under federal law, the Lobbying Reports must be filed each quarter and are available to the public. Greg Mitchell, founder of The Mitchell Group is the former chief of staff of ex-Republican Congressman James Rogan of California.
In 2005, the Church pursued -- through their paid lobbyist -- funding of a controversial treatment of 9/11 rescue workers, which involved Tom Cruise. There was earmark funding request "submitted to to Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies for the New York Rescue Worker Detoxification Project in New York, New York." The organization was co-founded in 2003 by Cruise, and it treats rescue workers that inhaled toxic fumes and smoke from the September 11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks. During an appearance on The Larry King Show, Cruise said he was concerned about the survivors of 9/11 getting cancer and other serious illnesses and said, "Doctors do not know how to diagnose chemical exposures ... You go to a doctor and now he's going to put you on more and more drugs, steroids and things that are ineffective."
According to the official website of the program, detoxification is "aprecise regimen that includes exercise, sauna bathing, and vitamin, mineral and oil supplements. More than 20 years of clinical experience have established its value in treating chemical exposures."
According to the documents, in 2009 the Church of Scientology paid The Mitchell Firm $30k to implore members of Congress to send another letter to the French Ambassador to the U.S. "expressing concern about current threats to religious freedom in France." In 2009, a French Court, convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud and that the religion targets "vulnerable people for commercial gain." The Church paid The Mitchell Firm $140k for work done on their behalf in 2009.
In the fourth quarter of 2010, the Church gave the lobbyist $20k and "sent a letter signed by 28 religious and human rights leaders of varying faiths of members of Congress, communicating concerns regarding the escalating threats to religious freedoms in Russia, and respectfully requesting that they raise this issue with the Russian Ambassador to the United States." Earlier this year, a regional court in Moscow ruled that "Scientology is nothing more than hate speech directed to certain social groups who denounce Scientology. The court is of the opinion that Scientology is only a selection of books and leaflets by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who founded scientology in the 1950s." The Mitchell Group was paid $110k by the Church in 2010.
The Church was concerned with the Religious Worker Visa Program in the second quarter of 2008. The lobbying group was paid $30k and "worked with other members of an informal coalition of religious organizations to send a group letter that urged Congress to permanently extend the Religious Worker Visa Program which was established in the Immigration of 1990 and is set to expire this year." For services rendered in 2008, the organization paid The Mitchell Group $140k.
From 2005-2012, the Church of Scientology paid The Mitchell Group $590k. However, according to the watchdog group called Open Secrets, other religious groups have also paid lobbyists. According to the group, The Friends Committee on National Legislation, which is a non-profit founded by members of the Quakers Church, spent $5 million dollars during a three year time period on a lobbyist. The Christian Scientist church paid a lobbyist $190k during three year time period.
Multiple calls and emails seeking comment to the Church of Scientology were never returned.