John Coale, currently advising Sarah Palin on running for president in 2012, is a Scientologist. And according to a memo obtained by Gawker, Coale once plotted to use friendly politicians to advance the power-hungry cult's agenda.
Coale is a prominent Washington power broker and husband to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. According to the Washington Post, he is running Palin's political action committee behind the scenes and "guiding [her] political image in Washington."
In 1986, he masterminded a plan—which was never executed—for Scientology to get into the "MONEY and VOTES game" in order to "create power" for Scientology and win influence Washington, D.C.
Reached this morning, Coale confirmed that he had launched the plan for what he called the FLAGG PAC. "I thought it was a brilliant idea," Coale said, "but no one else did, so it never went anywhere. I was looking at ways to move a new religion forward. I looked at the history of Mormons, who had a lot of people in office, and I looked at the Jews, who were very successful and influential. But the church didn't want to be part of it. They didn't want to be misconstrued. There was one small meeting with parishioners in DC. Maybe 9 or 10 people showed up."
Coale denies playing any role in Palin's political career aside from that of a friend who e-mails her once a week or so. And he insists that he has never used his political influence—in addition to Palin, his friends include the Clintons and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among many others in Washington—to advance the aims of Scientology. "I don't think I have ever said, to the Clintons or Nancy Pelosi, or anyone else, a word about Scientology. Not a word."
The idea was to launch a political action committee that would attract donations from Scientologists but could be plausibly distanced from the cult, which claims to be a church and therefore barred from engaging directly in political activities.
The PAC was to be called FLAGG PAC, which stood for "Freedom, Liberty, and Good Government Political Action Committee," but would act as a sort of dog whistle for Scientologists, who would hear an echo of "Flag Land Base," the group's international headquarters in Clearwater, Florida.
Its goal would have been to advance the Scientology creed, which calls for an end to "insanity" (good idea!) and the abolition of psychiatry.
But Scientology also had a more concrete problem that a PAC could address. In the mid-1980s, it was in the midst of a 26-year battle with the Internal Revenue Service, which involved bugging IRS offices, infiltrating the Department of Justice, and breaking into federal buildings, to secure tax-exempt status as a church. According to a document outlining FLAGG PAC's "Production Targets," Coale hoped that the IRS could be brought to heel.
In January 1986, Coale spoke at a Scientology "government awareness seminar" in Washington, D.C., to pitch parishioners on the idea and begin raising money. Attendees were given detailed surveys from the church's Office of Special Affairs—the arm that handles public affairs and conducts covert operations—asking for personal data on any powerful political, media, or financial figures they may know so that the OSA could "better coordinate our activities."
The documents identify Coale as the force behind the PAC idea, and as the point man for people interested in contributing.