Death of a Ninth Circuit Judge

The judicial vacancy crisis on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is growing worse.

Fight for immigration equality extends to the customs line

Has your family ever filled out a customs form? LGBT families face a “double” standard when they travel internationally. CBP wants to make things easier.

TBN Lawsuit Alleges Cover-Up of Sexual and Criminal Scandals – Paul, Jan and Matt Crouch Implicated

A lawsuit filed in California Superior Court against televangelism powerhouse TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) threatens to blow the lid off alleged misconduct and criminal activity at the very highest levels of the organization. TBN, which advertises itself as the “World’s Largest Christian Network,” is home to such luminaries as Rod Parsley, TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, Benny Hinn, James Robison and the larger-than-life founders of the network – Paul and Jan Crouch, and their son Matt – who are a constant presence in front of the camera.

The Crouches have invited criticism and scorn in the past with their lavish lifestyle and flamboyant appearance, but the new lawsuit paints a portrait of a thoroughly corrupt organization. The suit centers on Paul Crouch’s granddaughter Brittany Koper, a former executive at TBN who was fired after she blew the whistle on alleged fraudulent and criminal activities. She claims that she subsequently faced massive retaliation, including threats of “physical and lethal violence.”
The Los Angeles Times provided an overview of the case on Friday and focused on alleged self-dealing by the Crouches:
The lawsuit alleges that Paul Crouch Sr. obtained a $50-million Global Express luxury jet for his personal use through a "sham loan," and that TBN funds paid for a $100,000 motor home for dogs owned by his wife, Janice Crouch, a network director.
The suit also alleges that TBN bought residences across the country for its directors under the pretext that they were "guest homes" or "church parsonages." The properties include mansions used by the Crouch family in Newport Beach; side-by-side mansions in Windermere, Fla.; and homes in Nashville; Miami; and Irving, Texas, according to the suit.
While the $100k dog motor home is a pretty irresistible story (Seamus Romney must be so jealous!), the Times glossed over other portions of the suit that sound more like The Sopranos than Elmer Gantry. For instance, a section entitled “Multiple cover-ups of sexual and criminal scandals” accuses TBN, among other things, of covering up a “bloody sexual assault,” infidelities by Paul and Jan Crouch, and repeated incidents in which Matt Crouch exposed his genitals to cleaning staff.
I've included that section below, which mentions a legal settlement with Enoch Lonnie Ford. As previously reported, Ford, a TBN employee, was paid $425,000 to not discuss his alleged sexual encounters with Paul Crouch.
When Koper refused to play along, she wasn’t just sidelined within TBN. She allegedly faced threats of “physical and lethal violence” by Matt Crouch, and was told by Paul Crouch that Jan and Matt “want your heads” – referring to Koper and her husband, also a former TBN executive:
TBN issued a press release this morning in response to recent media coverage. Rather than address the substance of the suit, TBN’s lawyer and attorney Colby May portrayed the Kopers as disgruntled former employees who stole from the network to enrich themselves:
"The soundness and veracity of these stories are completely undermined when you realize that they depend almost exclusively upon accusations from individuals who admitted they had embezzled and misappropriated over $1 million from the network, and its companion ministry, International Christian Broadcasting," May explained. […]
"What the bulk of media stories don't explain is that these individuals used lawsuits to contrive absurd allegations that trusted TBN officials had illegally funneled millions of dollars for their own use," said May. "Add to that the fabrications that Dr. and Mrs. Crouch were using ministry funds to buy jewelry, jets, mansions, and mobile homes for dogs, and you have all the ammunition for a stereotypical attack against an esteemed media ministry."
We’ll be eagerly watching this case as it plays out. Koper has made explosive accusations against TBN and the Crouches, and the Kopers, as longtime insiders at TBN, are uniquely positioned to marshal evidence to back up their claims.
Click here to read the entire complaint against TBN.

Another Empty Courtroom

Yet another district court vacancy has opened up in California. The Senate ought to vote today on a long-pending nominee to the same district.

Gingrich: Administration Believes Obama is Superior to the Pope

When Newt Gingrich was campaigning in California earlier this week, he stopped by the Hoover Institution where he sat down for an interview with Research Fellow Peter Robinson.

Early on in the interview, Gingrich accused the Obama administration of waging "war on religion" and Robinson later asked Gingrich if he really meant to use the word "war" and gave him an opportunity to take it back and clarify.

But Gingrich was having none of it, standing by his use of the phrase while accusing the Obama Administration of believing that President Obama is superior to the Pope and being part of a half-century long campaign by "secularists [to] get between man and God":

Robinson: You mentioned a moment ago that the Obama Administration had declared "war"on religion in America, particularly on the Catholic Church. I'm just going to give you a moment to take back the word "war."

Gingrich: Well, listen ...

Robinson: Do you want to?

Gingrich: No. I think that it's very clear that this is an administration which believes that secular government - they believe that the President is superior to the Pope in the ability to define what the church is allowed to do.

Obama's position, which is truly dishonest - this new compromise is, I mentioned Orwell's "1984." this is Orwellian ... We have been through a fifty year period, starting in the 1960s, in which the courts, and the bureaucracies, and now the politicians have waged war on religious freedom in America. And I think we need to understand this is just one more phase in an ongoing assault on Christianity and on Judaism and on organized religion by secularists who believe that they have the right to get between man and God.

PFAW’s Young Electeds Program Candidates Win Major Victories

People For the American Way proudly congratulates the 2011 endorsees of our Young Electeds Program on their Election-Day victories.

Violence Never An Option Against Peaceful Protests

Law enforcement officials broke up the Oakland offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests this week with tear gas and, some protestors say, rubber bullets. Violence should never be used against peaceful protesters.

People For the American Way Supports Goodwin Liu for Ninth Circuit

By any standard articulated by either party, Goodwin Liu’s nomination deserves a vote on the Senate floor, and he should be confirmed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Issa’s Hydrofracking Hearing: The Facts

On Friday, May 6, 2011, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee will hold a field hearing in Bakersfield, California entitled Pathways to Energy Independence: Hydraulic Fracturing and Other New Technologies. The hearing’s witness list includes several representatives from the oil and gas industries.  

Rep. Issa: Favoring Special Interests Over the People’s Interests

  • In December, Rep. Darrell Issa sent a now-infamous letter to over 150 corporate lobbyists and industry grou­ps asking them to recommend hearings for the Oversight Committee, and specifically, to identify federal policies and regulations they would like to see eliminated.
  • Big Oil interests responded, seeking to roll back EPA regulations and streamline the permitting process for both offshore and onshore drilling.
  • According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Energy and Natural Resources sector has provided Rep. Issa with more than $300,000 in campaign funds throughout his career, and as a result, it appears that their influence leads to policy recommendations that do not necessarily have the public interest in mind.
  • Issa has targeted EPA regulations in a series of hearings since taking the reigns of the Oversight Committee. His witness lists have consistently been filled by personal friends and campaign contributors whose industries would benefit from fewer environmental safeguards.

Hydrofracking: Bad for People, Bad for the Planet

  • Hydraulic Fracturing (Hydrofracking) is a process that releases natural gas from underground rock formations by forcing fluid ( a mixture of water, sand, and toxic chemicals) through a well drilled deep into the earth . Fracking has not been properly studied by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • One to five million gallons of water is needed for each fracturing event, along with 5-25,000 gallons of the undisclosed, toxic chemical mixture.
  • Energy companies won’t disclose which chemicals are used in the process, claiming proprietary secrets. However, byproducts such as arsenic, copper, vanadium, benzene, heavy metals and radioactive material have been known to contaminate ground water and decrease air quality near fracking sites. Dangerous organic compounds are either burned off or vented directly into the air.
  • The “Halliburton Loophole,” which exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, was enacted at the behest of former Vice President Dick Cheney. This provision also stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate fracking.
  • Fracking creates a large carbon footprint, and the procedure will eventually produce more greenhouse gases than burning coal. Significant deforestation occurs from the necessary clear-cutting and road building to prepare fracking sites.
  • Poisoned rivers and aquifers resulting in reports of unusual health problems and wildlife die-offs have been reported in WY, CO, WV, TX, PA, LA, OH, and NY.

Witnesses: Representing the Wish List of Special-Interest Contributors

  • William Whitsitt is Devon Energy’s chief lobbyist. Larry Nichols, Chairman and CEO of Devon Energy, has personally donated $380,000 to Republican candidates throughout his lifetime. Devon Energy’s PAC has donated an additional $300,000 to Republican candidates in the 2010 cycle, with $11,000 going directly to Issa’s committee.
  • Tupper Hull is the VP Strategic Communications for the  Western States Petroleum Association, whose members include energy corporations such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Occidental and Valero. This group of companies’ combined campaign donations to Issa tops $77,000 over the course of his career. McCarthy received over $100,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry in the 2010 campaign cycle alone.
  • Steve Layton is President of E and B Natural Resources, a subsidiary of the New-York based Galesi Group. The group’s principal, Francesco Galesi, is a reliable Republican donor.
  • Rock Zierman is CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, whose top federal issue is fracking. Although they are technically nonpartisan and nonprofit, they donate almost exclusively to the GOP, including, since 2006, contributions of $16,000 to McCarthy and $4,000 to the final witness on the list, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove of the 32nd District of California. Grove has donated $9,500 to Rep. McCarthy over the course of his career.
  • The Independent Petroleum Association of America responded to Issa’s inquiry to corporate lobbyists, and indicated their interest in rolling back EPA regulations and streamlining the permit acquisition process.
  • The IPAA receives funding from a wide range of major oil companies, several of which are represented on the hearing’s witness list and have made substantial financial contributions to Darrell Issa and other members of the Oversight Committee, including fellow Californian and House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, whom Issa designated to organize the California hearings.

Listen to PFAW's teleconference on the hydrofracking hearing below

For more information, visit:


Attend a Rally to Save the American Dream this Saturday!

Events have been organized in cities and state capitols across the nation to show solidarity with workers in Wisconsin. Find the event or events nearest you.

“Rogues’ Gallery” Report Profiles Far-Right Senate Candidates

People For the American Way today released “The Rogues’ Gallery,” profiling 15 far-right Republican nominees for Congress. The report makes clear that the Republican slate of nominees is everything the Tea Party or the Religious Right could want.

The Rogues' Gallery

In our latest report, PFAW takes an in-depth look at 15 of the far right's most extreme candidates for Senate, and it isn't pretty.

Losing Their Appeal: The Real Reason the Right is Terrified by the Prop 8 Case

In the weeks since Judge Vaughn Walker found California's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, the Right Wing has, unsurprisingly, worked itself into a characteristic bigoted bluster. But this time, something about the bluster is different.

Prop 8 Judge Denies Permanent Stay on Marriages

In an important statement of confidence in the strong case for marriage equality, Judge Vaughn Walker today denied a motion to indefinitely stay his decision allowing gay people to marry in California.

PFAW Statement: Federal Judge Overturns Proposition 8

A federal judge in California today overturned Proposition 8, the state’s law that prohibited gay people from marrying. Proposition 8, Judge Vaughn Walker wrote, “is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.”

Statement of Rev. Byron Williams on Proposition 8 Decision

A federal judge in California today overturned Proposition 8, the state's law that prohibits gay people from marrying.

Reverend Byron Williams, pastor, columnist, a member of People For the American Way Foundation's African American Ministers In Action, and editor of the forthcoming book, Inconvenient Love African American Clergy and Theologians Speaking on Behalf of LGBT Equality, stated:

Supreme Court Blocks Cameras from Prop 8 Trial

The Supreme Court yesterday issued an order blocking cameras from the courtroom in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger which challenges the constitutionality of California's anti-gay ballot initiative.
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