Know your BFEE: Pat Robertson Incoporated a Gold Mine with a Terrorist
There's the gold. And the diamonds. And the oil.
Like the enterprising fellow in the parable of the king and the 10 coins, this guy's privatized and put his collection basket to good use. Check out how in this story that never made it to TBN Nutwork:
Pat Robertson and His Business Buddies
By Colbert I. King
Saturday, November 10, 2001; Page A27
Joseph Mathews is Pat Robertson's point man in a Liberian mining venture called Freedom Gold Limited. Mathews doesn't much care for what has appeared in this column about his boss's business dealings in Liberia, so he's trying to put a little distance between the televangelist and that West African nation's strongman, Charles Taylor.
This much is known, however, based primarily on information obtained from Freedom Gold Limited. Pat Robertson did learn about the gold mining investment opportunity from a visiting Liberian delegation. Robertson did subsequently create the for-profit Freedom Gold Limited in the Cayman Islands in December 1998 in which he was listed as the president and the company's sole director. He did conclude a mining agreement signed personally by him, Charles Taylor and key members of Taylor's cabinet on May 18, 1999. And the deal does give the Taylor regime a cut of the action.
Now why is a freedom-loving, God-fearing man such as Pat Robertson signing on the dotted line with Taylor, a U.S. prison escapee, Libyan terrorist training camp graduate, human rights violator, and pillager of his own country and his neighbor, Sierra Leone?
What's there to like about Charles Taylor?
He was once an ally of the equally repulsive Samuel Doe, the semi-literate master sergeant who led a bloody coup in April 1980 against Liberian President William Tolbert. The late Tolbert ended up dead and disemboweled in the executive mansion -- a fate shared 10 years later by election-rigger par excellence Doe who, while wearing the mantle of president, was tortured, mutilated and done in by rebels.
Gee. I wondered how Pat could afford the Rolex...
JEWELS FOR JESUS
ZAIRE: MOBUTU AND PAT ROBERTSON
BY ANDREW PURVIS/KINSHASA
What do televangelist Pat Robertson and a ruthless dictator have in common?
Diamonds, for one thing
February 27, 1994 Volume 145, No. 9
Who would expect to find diamonds on the souls of evangelical American missionaries in Zaire? Situated in the bull's-eye of Africa, Zaire has 43 million citizens scratching out a living on roughly $500 a year apiece. Zaire's cruel, old-style dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, however, does not subsist on $500 a year - he has many millions stashed away, and right now he makes a decent income off his country's roughly $300 million-a-year diamond trade. Now, with Mobutu's permission, Zaire's diamond business has a new entrant - Pat Robertson, the American televangelist and ex-presidential candidate.
Backed by the CIA, army general Joseph-Desire Mobutu took over the Republic of the Congo in 1965 and later called himself Mobutu Sese Seko. In 1971 he renamed the country Zaire. Throughout his rule, Mobutu has dealt brutally with opponents, civilian and military. His country's mineral wealth and location kept Mobutu valuable to Western interests for years, but when the threat of communist expansion disappeared, his worth diminished. By 1993 his horrific human-rights record and his refusal to yield the throne had led to an economic squeeze of Zaire by three major trading partners - the U.S., France and Belgium. Largesse from lenient banks dried up. Desperately casting a net for new friends, Mobutu found Robertson. Makau Mutua, projects director of the Human Rights Program at the Harvard Law School, says that currently "Robertson is Mobutu's biggest American catch."
The association of dictator and preacher began with a Robertson relief group, Operation Blessing, a branch of which has botched a corn-cultivation project on a 50,000-acre farm outside the capital, Kinshasa. Last year during the Rwandan refugee crisis, Operation Blessing expanded its humanitarian efforts to Goma but was criticized for spending too much money on transportation, pulling its workers out too soon and proselytizing. "They were laying on hands," an American aid worker recalls, "speaking in tongues and holding services while people were dying all around." Many relief agencies are notorious for mismanagement and backbiting, but even considering that, Operation Blessing drew a considerable volume of negative reviews from fellow Samaritans.
Another Robertson organization working in Zaire is the African Development Co. Around the world, Robertson has substantial business interests (in the U.S. he controls TV's Family Channel, the Ice Capades and KaloVita, a venture selling vitamins and skin creams from the Holy Land), and ADC is a private enterprise formed to look into investments in mining, lumber, agriculture, transportation and power generation, with an eye to plowing the profits back into humanitarian efforts. A nascent diamond-mining operation in Zaire is a project of the ADC. Located on a river southeast of the boomtown of Tshikapa in the heart of Zaire's diamond country, the project uses state-of-the-art dredges and diving equipment. Robertson is also exploring gold interests on the upper Zaire, or Congo, River, and assessing the hardwood logging potential of four great swaths of rain forest.
Let's see... What's the missing variable Gold + Diamonds + X = Big Wealth. Hmmm. Could X be... Power?
Pat Robertson's energy crisis
The Christian Right juggernaut feels the sting of big oil capitalism
By Bill Berkowitz
Sometimes when I think of Pat Robertson - which is probably more often than is healthy - I flash back to actress Joanne Woodward's landmark performance in the "The Three Faces of Eve."
There's Robertson, the zany televangelist launching hurricanes toward gay-friendly cities; the shrewd political figure with easy access to the rich and powerful; and the multi-millionaire businessman with Zairian diamonds on the soles of his shoes. All these personas wrapped into one pretty unique package.
Robertson the televangelist: Over-the-top and outlandish musings, ridiculous predictions and scattershot opinions are the order of the day on his daily "700 Club" television program.
The politically savvy Pat Robertson: Ran for president in 1988 and built an infrastructure and computerized mail list that helped launch the Christian Coalition, the right-wing political juggernaut for much of the 1990s.
Robertson the entrepreneur: Mega-wealthy businessman with international holdings.
The "700 Club" is currently being broadcast over Rupert Murdoch's Fox Family Channel, which Murdoch bought from Robertson in 1997 for $1.9 billion. The original Robertson/Murdoch deal called for him to continue his "700 Club" - perhaps in perpetuity. Now, it and other Fox assets, have been acquired by the Walt Disney Co. Disney, the target of a several-year basically ineffectual Christian right boycott, for between 3 and 5 billion dollars. So, despite Robertson's persistent criticism of Disney's practices, it appears the broadcasting arrangement will hold.
From also-ran to political kingmaker
Robertson the political operative gave America Ralph Reed. By naming the relatively unknown Reed as executive director, Robertson chose a perfect counterpart; a soft-spoken, cherubic-looking, hardball-playing political strategist. During his tenure, Reed played smooth/cool (Dean Martin) to Robertson's weird/hot (Jerry Lewis). He was the bridge to the media, standing between Robertson's mean-spirited and conspiracy-tinged rhetoric and the Coalition's mainstreaming efforts.
Reed was on the cutting edge of "big-tent" conservatism - initiating an ambitious, but under-funded effort to reach out to minorities and Catholic voters. Today, Reed runs his own political consulting outfit, was recently elected chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and is a key political advisor to President George W. Bush. Many political observers credit him with orchestrating the Religious Right's massive voter turnout that led to Bush's South Carolina primary victory, which ultimately turned the tide against Sen. John McCain.
These days the Christian Coalition is mired in financial problems and experiencing rapidly declining membership roles. It has been eclipsed by other more activist Christian right organizations. The Coalition's best days are behind them.
The CENCO dilemma
But Robertson the moneymaker is alive and well. Not long after he sold his Family Channel, the CENCO Refinery Co., an entity controlled by the Robertson Charitable Trusts, bought the former Powerine refinery located in Santa Fe Springs, California. Robertson claims that he was going to earmark the profits from this company for use by his charitable enterprises, including his "flying hospital," a jet with medical personnel who treat children in Third World Countries. Not one to be skeptical, nevertheless I'm reminded that over the years several investigative reports on Robertson's charitable enterprises have found that some of money raised was used for less-than charitable purposes.
Since he purchased the refinery, several obstacles have prevented the project from getting underway. These barriers, Robertson claims, has cost him tens of millions of dollars.
Early on, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), a twenty-three year old environmental health and justice organization with over 20,000 members throughout California got involved. CBE charged that Robertson's plans to reopen the 65-year-old refinery located southeast of downtown Los Angeles would "endanger the health and perhaps even the lives of tens of thousands of area residents - many of them children." CBE noted that the previous owners of the refinery, "paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for safety and pollution violations." Located in a largely Latino community, the refinery eventually was shut down in 1995.
GOOGLE, huh? Nice. OK. Gold + Diamonds + Petroleum = Personal Salvation?