Striving for mainstream, building new connections - 2004-07-19
An epitomizing event was the church party on Jan. 26, 2002, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Fort Harrison Hotel. The guest list was a who's who of Pinellas' political and power elite. Since then, politicians have been much more comfortable attending various church events.
State Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor and state Sens. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey and Dennis Jones of Seminole sat through a seminar last fall about a Hubbard-inspired crime and drug rehabilitation project.
Fasano, City Council member Hoyt Hamilton and Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne helped kick off the church's Christmas-themed Winter Wonderland last December. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judges Linda Allan and Linda Babb toured, and later praised, the Narconon drug treatment program based on Hubbard teachings.
Political candidates quickly learn that Scientologists can be willing campaign contributors and represent a sizable voter bloc.