Ex-Scientologist Story #411, Confessions of an IAS Fundraiser.

Confessions of an IAS Fundraiser

Kay Milasinovich Rowe has a story to tell; and what a story it is.  Let’s start with her time in the Sea Org.  The Sea Org was set up by L. Ron Hubbard to deliver his so-called “tech” to humanity.  This group contains many of his most fanatical adherents.  They take their mandate to deliver Scientology “ethics” in an uncompromising manner to an apathetic, and sometimes downright hostile, world, with a fanaticism that is all-consuming.  These “tigers of the tech” strut around in mock naval uniforms in the pretense of being a paramilitary force.  However, veteran Scientology watchers would term these gung-ho zealots to be part of a farce instead of a force.

Like many of the young, wild-eyed and wide-eyed enthusiasts of Hubbard Kay disregarded her own personal comfort when she joined the Sea Org.  This was in 1989-1991.  That was probably for the best as comfort, decent food, sufficient sleep and even days off are not a big part of the Sea Org agenda.

Her abilities and competency must have been apparent from the start.   She was sent on “garrison” missions where the Sea Org had to put together an org (a Scientology center in a city) that was on the verge of failing.  There orgs are a big part of Scientology and account for a significant amount of the revenue of the cult.  Kay was to find out, eventually, just how important money is in the grand scheme of Scientology.  The Sea Org could, with justification, be termed, the “Sales Org.”  All actions of the Sea Org exist or are undertaken in order to extract the maximum amount of money from the public members.  But no matter how much is raised very little is spent on Sea Org or other staff members.  Kay states that she was owed some three-thousand dollars that was never paid her.  For two years she worked like a slave under terrible conditions.

The Sea Org members often speak with pride about their accomplishments, often in the face of adversity, which, from their own vantage point is probably right.  But to outsiders looking in, the Sea Org looks like a bunch of disorganized rabble.  They constantly argue over arcane parts of Hubbard’s tech, they rule their subordinates by yelling, screaming, and other means of fear and invalidation.  They haven’t a clue of what real leadership means.  Hubbard’s tech is confusing and contradictory; so there is always something going wrong; there is always somebody subverting something and there is always somebody to be reported on.

Kay sums this period of time up: “In ending this portion of my story, I want to highlight a common thread throughout…money/MEST was “God” to the powers that be, but the individual Orgs, staff and Sea Org members, were “just another cog in the wheel” and milked for whatever could be drained out of them for the sake of filling the coffers, i.e. Sea Org reserves.   There were times when I was sick with bronchitis, pneumonia and laryngitis, all three at the same time, even contagious with fever and still going to post and even firing out on Missions to “make it go right”.    But,  I put up with all this because I believed in the tech and trusted that it was all “for the greater good”.  I saw many, many good people depart from the Church either by death, routing out or blowing.  And as far as I am concerned, whether they had “overts : or not, the obsession with money/MEST and the lack of sincere care for the pubic, Missions, Cl4/5 Org staff and Sea Org members was the root cause of it and nothing, no matter how valid it may sound, can serve as a justification.”

The foregoing statement must have been made in hindsight because Kay then went from being a fanatic in the Sea Org to being a more committed fanatic (if that is possible) by becoming an IAS (International Association of Scientologists) fundraiser.  These people are perhaps the most feared people in Scientology because of their savage fundraising techniques.

“From Feb 1992- Jan 2010, I was affiliated with the IAS Administrations and/or directly involved in IAS Activities, particularly as a Fundraiser, Advanceman (setting up Fundraising Events), Fundraiser Assistant and Membership Officer.     Note:  From April 2006- mid 2009- I was minimally involved as I was posted in the CLO WUS as the Planetary Dissemination Unit I/C from April 2006-Feb 2008 and then at ASHOF as the D/BSO for Special Properties from around April 2008- March 2009.  Nevertheless, I was still required to raise funds for the IAS as an “all-hands” action. . .

Next, I trained for my position on the Freewinds from around Nov 1991- Feb 1992.  This included doing the Officer Training Program.  After I completed my training I was posted in the West U.S. Membership Office on N. Berendo, long since changed to L Ron Hubbard Way, in Hollywood, CA.  I worked under Ken Pirak, who was reportedly with the IAS since its formation.   His wife, Mary Pirak, and daughter, Brea, also worked in the Office.  Mary was the Public Officer and Brea, the Admin.

My initiation included statements from Ken Pirak to the effect that all people lie about their money.   He even went to great lengths relaying stories of public who lied to him when he knew they had lots of money that they were withholding information about.  How he got the data about their finances without their knowledge, I do not know.  The stress was on “hard sell” and if I failed to get a substantial amount of money from any parishioner I was reprimanded for being “soft sell”.   There were not only reprimands but penalties/too gruesomes to be faced for me and others who failed to make their quotas and close the public for substantial donations.   These included:  not being able to go to bed- sometimes for days on end getting an average of a few hours of sleep at most, while in town- being kicked out of the office and not allowed to return to it until quota met,  married couples were threatened with losing their berthing and being separated, we were all threatened with being assigned to the Galley to wash pots and/or dishes, clean the walls, floor, etc., being assigned to clean “rats alley” and/or the grease pits, serving meals to the crew (to lower one’s stature), while on tour- not being able to return home until quota, being sent to a tour area that was known to be a set up for failure and have to make it go right regardless, being assigned to eat only rice and beans, etc. It also included being screamed at within an inch of one’s face.   I also experienced a Fundraiser who I worked directly with (Bridget Yavaraski), lashing out at me in the Office late one night for failing to make my quota, cutting into my wrist with her nails- I still have the scar.  It was encouraged for the staff of the office to use “group internal pressure” and this included being brutal.   Ken Pirak also went as far as purposely making statements to introvert me and tell me what was “wrong with me”,   something that was supposed to be forbidden according to LRH policies.  My back was very much up against the wall, “do it or else.”  This included going to their homes and even places of work, unannounced and with no appointment, under the guise of “have not been able to reach you and was concerned”, “have something absolutely urgent/vital that you need to know about, otherwise I would not have come here at this hour and/or unannounced” (which we were lead to believe was true), “was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by and or/can I use your bathroom”.    Additionally, quite often I would be teamed up with a high profile Scientologist celebrity and/or Freedom Medal Winner to get my foot in the door.

The attitude that was instilled in us regarding the public was that they were beneath us, that we were superior and they were of low moral character, otherwise they would be in the Sea Org or on staff too and that the least they could do to make up for their lack of participation was to donate large sums of money to the IAS. 

During my tenure as an IAS Fundraiser and other IAS positions, I was encouraged to lie to the public to get in the door and have interviews with them for the purpose of raising

            While in the interview, I would receive non-stop calls coaching me on how to “close” the prospect and threatening that I was not allowed to leave until I had the money in hand, no matter how late it was, or else I would be dealt with severely.  See #5 as for the penalties.

We had a network established with public and staff throughout the world who would be used as “birddogs” to give us leads on who came into money, or is “loaded”, “who is a “good guy” and also very qualified to pay as well as who has been “bad” and needs to make amends and is qualified to make a substantial donation, more often than not, one over the top that would use up just about every resource and credit line they had, plus some.  The leads included staff and Sea Org members, as if they weren’t contributing enough already! The interviews would be set-up and how to approach them would be thoroughly worked out and then orchestrated according to plan, including utilizing those with influence over the person to close them to pay.   We would usually know in advance what their buttons/ruins were and stomp on these hard to extract the funds.  This included carefully wording our communication so as not to out-right lie, but to give the impression that their funds would go to the thing the person wanted their funds addressed to.  Under no circumstances were we allowed to ever tell the public that their funds would for sure go to the thing they wanted, so we had to be very clever on what to say so as to effectively close the person and get the funds in hand.    The truth is, and I was told this on a number of occasions by seniors, only a very small portion of funds raised were ever used on campaigns we were promoting as the most important thing was to “build the War Chest”.

We used all manners of tools to lead the public to believe their funds were going to “save the day” and enable us to fund said project.   We had high profile celebrities/Freedom Medal winners team up on interviews and guest speak at Fundraising events, we had videos of the International Events with COB’s message to donate to the IAS, Freedom Medal Award Winner Videos- particularly the one featuring Tom Cruise, videos featuring “IAS Funded properties and campaigns”- but we were never told how much, if any of the IAS funds we raised were actually paid for these.  It should be noted, that in the process of my fundraising it was very common for me to come against objections from public, particularly those who worked as staff or volunteers for the so-called entities that IAS funded who blatantly claimed that they received very little, if any money.   This came up so often that all of the staff in the offices I worked in were told in no uncertain terms that they needed to submit full reports on any instances of this.  It was implied by this that their claims were false.  Yet, one person in particular, who worked for CCHR Int as a fundraiser for years- Kerrie, insisted otherwise and continued to raise funds for CCHR Int despite alleged IAS funds.   At one point it was explained to us that “legally” IAS can only fund certain things and can’t fund pay, airfares, etc.   Can’t recall the whole list, but when it came right down to it, there was very little we could fund “legally” so the statements from these public /volunteers was not false after all.  We were advised to steer away from it to get the funds and “do the no answer drill”. 

In retrospect, I now realize that I was used as a tool to lure public into donating.   My “skill” was that I had a very good reputation for truly caring about people, with genuine ARC. But since I was considered “soft sell”- as I could not bring myself to extract substantial donations from the public, one of my key functions was “birddog” for the Top Fundraisers and I would nurture the public, help them mend situations with the Church and in their lives and set it up for them to get into interviews with the lead, high dollar IAS Fundraisers who In turn would “Hard Sell” them for just about everything they had all “for the greater good” and they truly believed it and so did I!

Although, I was never part of the Financial Planning Committee for the IAS Administrations, nor for the Offices that I worked in (mainly West U.S, but also 2 years in East U.S.), I did witness what some of the funds were spent on.   Early on in my IAS Fundraising career, when we were referred to as the “West U.S. Membership Office” there was a short time when we were paid wages and from this we paid the Church for our own food and berthing.   During this same time, on a good week, there would sometimes be a surplus and we would get bonuses, however, instead of these being given to us as part of our pay and under our control to spend as we saw fit,  these would be donated on our behalf to the IAS to raise our own status in the IAS.    Around mid 90’s our title was changed to IAS WUS Membership Office or something to that effect and we got a very nice space renovated in the CLO WUS building, while still maintaining ourselves as a separate entity.   However, our pay changed to what most other Sea Org members would get- an allowance of $50 per week, provided there were funds available to cover this, and our meals and berthing on the Base covered as well as travel expenses should we go on tour.   Eventually, there were bonuses established, mainly for the Fundraisers making their quotas, provided the office made its quota.  For a long time my minimum was $20,000 in a week in order to be bonus eligible, this later increased to $30,000. The bonuses were pretty decent such that I felt rather secure in obtaining credit cards and ran them up to $10,000, most of which I donated to the IAS to increase my IAS status, later to not be able to pay off as I was transferred from the IAS West Office to CLO WUS and had a substantial cut in my allowance with very little, if any bonuses.   The other benefits of working with the IAS was that our supplements  were covered, we purchased our own food for the Galley to cook, so were not on rice and bean with the rest of the crew when other Orgs on the base had insufficient funds to feed the crew.   We also had very classy, expensive uniforms- all justified of course that we had to look very professional and have high havingness to raise the sums of money needed.   At one point our uniforms were being custom made by Mr. Lim of High Society in downtown Los Angeles, I have no idea what how much this cost, only that he had photos displayed in his facility of celebrities and VIPs who he designed and made clothing for. His clientele included David Miscavige.  At one point, with a bonus I received, I was encouraged by my senior of that time (Jane Mella), to have Mr. Lim make me a tailor-made 3-piece suit.   As I recall, this was about $600 and greatly discounted due to all the business that we supplied for him.  In my later years with the IAS, we were sent to Brooks Brothers to get fitted for full wardrobes, suits (blazers and pants) and long winter coats.  We had two full sets of uniforms, one for winter and the other, summer, each with 4 shirts, 4 pairs of pants and 2 blazers, if I recall correctly.  These also included Coach purses for these seasons.   Additionally, we received handsome gifts for Christmas including- Hermes scarves, Coach bags, Seiko pocket electronic dictionary/encyclopedia, luggage, etc.   Having the funds through bonuses and stable allowance, we also paid handsomely for Christmas and Birthday gifts for the Chairman of the Board RTC and a little less handsomely for the President IASA of that time (Janet Light McLaughlin, long since out of the IAS and the Sea Org).   No expenses were spared on Org Awards either.   It was common for us to go out to a very high end, 5 star restaurant then to a movie or a play, in fact after the IAS victory, our entire office of 10 or so staff flew out to Las Vegas for a show and dinner and were there for a couple days as I recall, staying in a very expensive hotel, all meals at 4 and 5 star restaurants, etc.   When I was posted in New York, instead of our office eating with the rest of the Sea Org crew, we were each given travel expense money to eat out daily.  I don’t recall how much, but it was at least $25 per day.  One other thing of note is that Janet Light and some other IASA execs were known to have a passion for shopping at high end stores.   In fact, they would commonly sell off their used designer wear and purchase anew.  I purchased a few of Janet’s used clothes and paid upwards of $100 a piece for some of these so you can imagine what she expended when she purchased brand new. 

Lastly, I want to expand on the way some of the public were handled with a couple examples displaying the utter disregard for their welfare, let alone, state of mind, with fixation only on extracting their funds.  Several years ago, I believe in 2002, while on Tour in San Jose, I had to recover from a bomb-out event, by finding public to raise substantial funds from.   My senior at that time was Jane Mella.   She assigned Rob Bosan to tag with me as needed over the phone.   I met a fairly new public, who was working with other Scientologists in a Real Estate Company.  I got her so excited about donating that she was willing to borrow from anyone, pawn off her jewelry, etc.   I was instructed to just about live with her to accomplish this.  The only thing I didn’t do was sleep at her home as this was forbidden, but I stayed nearby for sure.  I was literally with her all day long for days on end, being constantly coached on how to continue to have her be a willing participant. Throughout this, I repeatedly expressed that I had a bad feeling about it and that I wanted to drop it as I didn’t think this was the best thing for her and that she truly was not a qualified prospect.    I was egged on and not allowed to return home and my pleas were refuted.    When the prospect was in the car with me late one night, having yet another failed attempt to get the money, my senior called me and literally screamed at me for minutes on end with the prospect in full ear shot of the entire communication. Needless to say, the prospect was very upset by this and I had my hands full to repair it, which I did.  However, in private, when I called my senior, she would still not let up!    Eventually, I bailed, and was willing to face the penalties for not having gotten the funds in hand.  However, the prospect was still going full steam ahead to get the funds, even though I had ended it.  Eventually, she said the wrong thing to the wrong people at the wrong time( CCHR INT Execs to be more exact), apparently displaying some psychotic behavior and I get accused of “not caring” about her and severely penalized, actually taken off post, temporarily assigned to menial labor, etc. while my senior and the assigned tag, walked Scott- free as if it had nothing to do with them!   This was just one example.  It was common-place for the Fundraiser to get all the wrath for an interview gone sour, with the senior who wouldn’t listen and let them bail out, assuming no responsibility.

Another example was in the mid 90’s when I was teamed up with Miriam Bright.  We had gotten a hot tip from an FSM named Leann claiming that her selectee, a very old man with dementia, was loaded with money.  His name was Ralph Grimes and he was in his late-7os and lived walking distance from the Base in squalid quarters.  We must have spent at least 2 full days talking to him and trying to find the money that he supposedly had, with him insisting all along that he did not have it.  Finally the FSM came over and found his Bank passbook which showed him having close to $40,000 in the Bank.   Of course we were in communication with our senior, Mr.  Ken Pirak all along and not allowed to bail at any point in the cycle.  That said, when we told him about the bank data, he was ruthless about us getting nearly the entire sum, with no regard for the person.   There was even a question as to whether or not this was legally ok, since he was not going to be around much longer, may have a relative in his will that was due to inherit it, may be a well-kept secret that he had the money if he had been receiving relief from the state, etc.   I well recall saying all these things to Ken and having it brushed aside with threats of “you better get it or else”.    Well, after all that we did get it, and to this day I do not know what became of Ralph.

            For nearly all the years of my involvement I was lead to believe that all the Church activities were in accord with the Founder’s wishes and were very noble, with parishioners’, let alone mankind’s best interests at heart.   I was kept under very firm control so as not to stray from believing anything to the contrary.  At the slightest hint of doubt, I was subject to investigation with extensive metered interviews and security checking procedures, and the attendant ridicule and punishment/amends projects for daring to have a viewpoint that did not coincide with what I was supposed to believe.  It was no accident that it was nearly impossible for me to have sufficient contact with the outside world to discover what was really going on.  I rarely had the opportunity to visit with or speak to my family during my 35 years on staff and/or the Sea Org.  There always seemed to be emergencies and lack of personnel resources to cover for me should I want to take my annual 3 week leaves that were part of my contractual agreement, but then, even if I could get myself covered, during a good part of my Staff/Sea Org  tenure I could rarely accumulate sufficient funds to do so.   I have since discovered that I was factually implanted with the idea that the very concept of family was “other fish to fry”, “off purpose”, “PTS to the Middle Class”.   Unfortunately, I bought into this and developed an attitude of not caring about my family and only maintaining contact at Christmas as it would be socially unacceptable to do otherwise.   In my later years, just before I resigned from the Sea Org in June 2010, the security measures were heightened considerably to the point that one could barely even walk around the block without being surrounded and questioned by at least 3 security staff!   In fact, posting security personnel was a priority.    There was a booklet created for the staff regarding the rules of conduct that we were all required to read.  It was made very clear that our contact with the outside world, including family and friends not in the Sea Org, was to be just about nil.   I am happy to say that since I have been out, I have re-established communication with my family and I love them very dearly.  They are not “beneath me”, “mere wogs” as I was implanted to believe.

 This is true, K. M. Rowe”

Published in: on November 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm  Comments (5)