As an executive of the Mormon Church who was called to the Twelve and still royal heir to the throne, Mitt Romney presents conflict of interest issues that should force America to sit up straight and take notice. If elected President of the United States, Mormon lobbyists will have an easier time doing business between matters of food and coal power to overtaking the banking world. On one hand they’re a private charity and on the other they could bring the country to a halt. The Church has been encouraging apostles to seek the highest public office since its inception, to pave the way according to the financial Book of Mormon sections that have often conflicted with legal issues of anti-trust.
Whereas some faiths might hold safer products like mutual funds for the benefit of community work, the Latter Day Saints are in a league of their own. They’re worth more than Mitt and their extreme wealth has nothing to do with paying tithes. In 2001, Time magazine attempted to assess their value and came up with the ballpark of $30 billion. Earlier this year even Bloomberg tried their hand and all experts agree the true answer is impossible to know. These values don’t begin to scratch the surface and perhaps it’s so hard to decipher because the LDS (Latter Day Saints) executive keeps their business private from everyone including non-prophetic Mormons. Under the US Constitution they maintain that right as a matter of protected religion and I dare say with a little more digging that a single church company is worth more than the total projected.
It all began with Brigham Young and subsequently George W. Romney’s vision of competitive-cooperative capitalism. Just as their religion is written to reflect a theocratic political movement, it is also founded on the dogma of economics. The early settlers felt they were entitled to a real kingdom on earth and therefore profiteering was as much about faith as praying to Nephi, Adam or Moroni. Mormonism is the religion of government and financial markets that predominantly relates to socialism for CEOs. Moreover and since the early days in Utah, LDS has been training their prophets to become experts in constitutional law to keep it so.
We’ll begin with ZCMI (Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution), the inaugural company created in Utah under Brigham Young, Grandpa Parley and Uncle Orson’s direction. It was also the first American shopping mall that eventually transformed into Macy’s. The original storefront remained ecclesiastic and although Macy’s is a major brand, their signage still honoured the Mormon roots that gave birth to any profitable tenants thereafter.
Upon assuming the prominent location from Saintly businesses that moved on, the department store inherited the grand chandelier, specially made for Mormons from Austrian crystal imported from Venice, Italy. CEOs for Macy’s paid homage to the Saints once more, by donating 1,500 of the dangling pieces from that prestigious lighting fixture although they didn’t part with all of them. Each little bauble was so exquisite that it warranted a black tie event for the charities who received them. No value is offered for the chandelier in full, but it certainly crossed a few million dollars as one of the most expensive lampshades in the country the Church could afford to abandon.
Despite parting with the storefront it was only a short lived transition, in which they demolished the shopping mall to make way for a newer City Creek Centre. LDS continues to own the property no matter which high end boutique decides to take up residence. It cost more than $1 billion for Mormons to build and they vow the only money for construction came from corporate profits as opposed to tithes.
Managing such a portfolio would prove to be too much for Mormons alone, so they partnered with Taubman Centers to run the day to day operations of the new mall. This particular corporation was founded by Alfred Taubman, who had just finished ten months in prison for convictions related to price fixing and anti-trust. It would seem Mr. Taubman was practicing the Mormon’s competitive-cooperative capitalism, which was repeated by George Romney through his NRA initiative of the same nature. Both examples were held guilty of breaching federal law and yet the Mormons continue to marry themselves to this business philosophy. Taubman’s company is further headquartered in Bloomfield, Michigan; in Mitt’s Romney’s old stomping grounds.
The LDS Church is one of the largest real estate proprietors in America. Zion Securities changed its name to Utah Property Management, but is owned by Saints just the same. They formed Suburban Land Reserve Inc. to handle their industrial buildings as well. However, these are only two of many subsidiaries within the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that holds everything from apartment buildings to banks and business towers.
On the list of very important buildings is Eagle Gate Plaza that remained Church owned when it was transformed into the World Trade Center of Utah. It’s part of the New York family of WTC businesses that are home to government and international trade authorities. Lew Cramer of Mormon hierarchy was then named CEO of the center to solidify their stronghold, far beyond the capacity of a landlord (see PDFor non PDF).
Mr. Cramer enjoys trade missions to China on behalf of church-family members while giving devotional speeches and legal decoding from the Book of Mormon at his alma mater, Brigham Young University (see Oct. 2, 2012). Adding to his list of accomplishments with the Church, he began an LDS law society to unite Mormon attorneys in helping others see their light (additional interview transcript PDF or non PDF). He was in charge of recruiting Mormon volunteers for the Utah Olympics to help reduce costs and appoint Mitt Romney to the prestigious top job. Lew also headed Republican finances for the current presidential election.
The LDS property group further heads a lobbying entity to ensure the interests of Mormons are protected, including many issues such as prohibiting restaurants from serving alcohol within their structures. The Mormon president from this real estate council finds his office in the Triad Center, also owned by the Church. Triad arrives with a phenomenal explanation and another curious partnership with the likes of Adnan Khashoggi. The Saudi prince and arms dealer is better known by his scandalous actions at the heart of the Iran-Contra Affair, which facilitated the illegal sale of arms to Iran and other confirmed terrorists. He was further implicated in the Lockheed bribery scandals that caused heads to roll from the US to West Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Japan. That time it involved war planes instead of just the missiles.
When not transporting weapons of destruction to jihadists and contras, Khashoggi was kept busy pursuing business with the Mormons. The Triad Center was a joint effort, where LDS provided the land and became the predominant tenant (see half way down). It is here they set up another company Bonneville International, to house their radio and television stations. These aren’t your run of the mill Christian programs and include the Washington Post Radio as well as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Pertaining to television it’s hard to ascertain the full scope of LDS holdings, but they do include an NBC affiliate and the Church has been making moves to acquire a stake in Disney. Also located within the Triad Center is a Brigham Young University campus.
(Adnan Khashoggi discussing business plans with Mormon executive-apostle, photo credit: Deseret News clipping)
Bonneville International serves as a parent company to numerous subsidiaries. They include the Bonneville Washington News Bureau, Bonneville Media Communications, the Bonneville Broadcasting System, Bonneville Satellite Corporation, Bonneville Entertainment Company and Bonneville Telecommunications (provided futures and commodity quotes). Every one is a profit machine owned by the Mormon Church and the FCC has been called upon to regulate their control of media.
The way they manage their affairs is demonstrated through the Washington Post partner. Amid transitioning from newspaper to radio, the Saints put an end to a popular rock music station. They handed the 35 workers from Z-104 their walking papers and replaced them with 25 Mormon-friendly staff of their own (see both pages).
To confuse matters more, Bonneville International is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation. Under this banner they’ve managed to scoop up part of ESPN. In regard to Bonneville Satellite most access to their web domains is prohibited, but they do offer services in the US, UK, Thailand, Pakistan, India, select areas of the Middle East and the home country of Khashoggi, in Turkey.
Under the wing of Deseret Management, we find other companies like Deseret News, Deseret Book, Deseret Digital Media, Temple Square Hospitality and Beneficial Life Insurance, which handles $20.3 billion in policies (stakeholders PDF or non PDF). Mormons also concocted Mstar.net to apply ecclesiastic censoring to the internet for their faithful followers; in addition to their own LDSYellowPages and a doorway to Hollywood through Excel Entertainment.
From a finance perspective, Ensign Peak Advisors manages Mormon stocks and bonds including those of the Deseret Trust Company. Next is Deseret Mutual, as a provider of financial products and employer health benefits. These services are exclusive to Church owned businesses, but their workforce is considerable and lists many LDS participants. The Church conglomerate continues to hold an extensive stock portfolio including $2 million in Burger King and $1 million in Dominos Pizza. These assets were transferred to the Saints tax free by Mitt Romney. General Authorities of the Church receive income from these investments, so in a roundabout way it benefited him personally and all his business associates (more on this in Part 7: Insider Trading).
They continue to hold considerable interest in banks, which goes hand in hand with various footholds they maintain in the economic sector. We’ll start with Zion Bancorp, the early brainchild of the Twelve Apostles. Zion began in Utah with the Church retaining full ownership, but in 1960 fellow Mormon Roy W. Simmons, purchased a controlling share. The financial institution carried on in partnership with LDS and promoted five apostles to its board of directors. They continue to facilitate all Mormon Church business and at least one congregation member felt he was cheated out of $700,000 through their advice that only benefited the institution.
Today Roy’s son Harris Simmons inherited the Chairman, President and CEO positions. (see officers and directors). He’s a loyal Mormon at the heart of the financial empire who happens to hold more than a million shares since the company went public. Moreover Harris is Chairman of the underlying Zions Bank (Utah and Idaho) and heads all the parent-acquired subsidiaries such as Amegy Bank of Texas,California Bank and Trust, National Bank of Arizona, Nevada State Bank, The Commerce Bank of Oregon, The Commerce Bank of Washington, Vectra Bank Colorado, Zions Management Services Company, Amegy Insurance Agency, Amegy Investments, Amegy Mortgage Company, Contango Capital Advisors, Net Deposit, Wellman Holdings, Wellman Services, Western National Trust, Zions Credit Corp, Zions Direct and Zions Insurance Agency. Total assets of Zion Bancorp in 2010 were $51.6 billion.
Church president and primary apostle Thomas S. Monson was on hand to dedicate the newest Zion Financial Center in the name of Mormon. Additionally the building is owned by the Church under real estate holdings and the job of running local matters was given to A. Scott Anderson – another royal descendant of an original apostle like Mitt.
The wisdom of prophets didn’t save the banking empire from brushes with the law though; common to most Mormon enterprises. First they received two $8 million fines for trespasses against the Bank Secrecy Act and USA Patriot Act related to inter-country money laundering. Then they were hit with two more for $50,000 and $225,000 for operating without a proper licence, misleading representation and making false statements. During the recent financial market meltdown, Zion Bank received $1.4 billion in relief from government (a Fannie Mae repeat) and they’ve only repaid $700 million since this September. Earlier in 1999 they also faced tough opposition to the goal of merging Zion with the other Mormon bank, First Security. Due to anti-trust concerns and major publicity the marriage was called off, as the move would have resulted in a banking monopoly.
Switching gears, the Church is at the center of America’s food system. These holdings begin withAgReserves Inc in the United States, described as running investment farms and ranches. In the United Kingdom the name changes to AgReserves Ltd where apostles received $15.9 million worth of taxpayer subsidy to benefit their operations in a single year. They’ve replicated in Mexico under AgroReservas and regrettably AgroReservas do Brazil was removed from the internet when the Landless Workers’ Movement targeted the Mormon sprawl in protest. Now no information is available beyond the words of those affected and displaced. AgReserves Australia Ltd is yet another LDS company with hundreds of thousands of acres.
Those are just the larger holdings. In California they produce almonds. In Utah it’s dairy and cattle. In Oklahoma they raise more cattle and Florida produces cows along with citrus fruit. Stretches of Wyoming and Washington were bought for the sole purpose of historical value, to own the pieces of America that Mormon pioneers may have traversed. All the farms double as camps and getaways to profit from tourism as well. This is not to mention the individual ranches spread across the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Argentina because they’re indeed too many to list.
These operations are located under the Farm Management Company, which in turn is overseen by Deseret Land and Livestock. The latter not only farms but also offers paid hunting expeditions and “high quality fly fishing experiences” for profit. In a complex web to keep anyone from grasping their true worth, both corporations are controlled by another Mormon investment structure going by the name of Farmland Reserve Inc.
According to the church’s own newspaper the faithful are not meant to know LDS business, but they’re aware of millions of acres in the US and reverence as the largest private land owner in Florida along with others. In an unguarded moment, a Mormon executive praised the Church for being “the largest cow-calf operator in the nation” whilst angling to overtake Ted Turner in the business.
These acquisitions have been patient at times and purchased piece by piece until LDS assumes an entire area. In the Third World the vulnerable are begging for enough land to survive and the story is beginning to repeat in America. Even contracted farmers in Idaho of the Mormon faith are condemning the Church’s practices. They’re threatening to revoke the community’s paid participation by operating farms directly through their administration. In this way they keep labour costs to a minimum by having worshippers volunteer in the fields – as a tenet of doing Mormon business since the beginning. Furthermore the farmers are angry that LDS produces for the commercial market and this spawns an unfair business advantage that could put an end to their livelihoods altogether.
Although there is scant information available about the Mormons’ Property Reserve Inc., it too is a real estate venture of some sort. It’s involved in a Supreme Court lawsuit that extends to Hawaii, so it can’t be conducting business confined to Utah as their registration suggests. The public can only guess if these dealings are related to a shooting that took place at a Mormon temple on Christmas Day; sparked by an LDS real estate Ponzi ring that was investigated by the FBI in 2010.
Pertaining to Hawaii, the Church owns the most lucrative part of that state. When Mitt’s ancestors went on mission in 1865 they purchased more than 7,000 acres in the name of Mormon – in an effort totransform Polynesian Indians from Lamanites into the descendants of Israel. Hawaii Reserves Inc. was established to take control of Laie and one of their most renowned beaches. They operate water, sewer treatment and roads with the intent of building more neighbourhoods. It’s a sensitive area with sacred burial grounds, so Mormons employed a representative to lobby for their development interests (PDF). These services were likely necessary to build the Brigham Young University Hawaii campus, along with the Polynesian Cultural Center to serve as one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations and gainful theme attractions.
We must now address the topic of sugar and how the Church positioned itself to become an oligarch of this industry. Sugar is needed to cook nearly everything we eat and warrants our acute attention. This enterprise began with Brigham Young and the Apostles, to help found their theocratic and competitive-cooperative capitalist dream for Zion-Utah. Soon after they were investigated and convicted of anti-trust violations for the Sugar Trust, in keeping with their business theory and its successive outcomes.
In an effort to save their monopoly Saints then partnered with the Bankers Trust, who in turn found themselves the target of racketeering charges that led to the present market meltdown and the government’s intervention to regulate derivatives. In the early days this Trust helped the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company merge and grow to take full market share, under the name of Amalgamated Sugar with Mormon prophet David Eccles as the technical founder and Utah’s first made millionaire. From the riches of LDS sugar, he became Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the Washington, DC building was named in his honour.
During his years in power he is noted to provide the Mormon Church with interest free loans to assist in building their kingdom. Coincidentally, David’s son George Eccles founded the smaller Mormon bank First Security, that attempted to merge with Zion before regulators took notice and trust circumstances intervened. A fellowship was established in his name to promote Mormon studies and Lew Cramer from the World Trade Center Utah is one of the prominent LDS steering executives. In the Saints’ family, every power player is connected for the purpose of furthering the Church’s vision.
Still on the issue of sugar, Amalgamated is said to have merged with the Snake River Sugar Company. No information is publicly available about either company, but the latter currently shares the same business address as the original manufacturer. The Amalgamated Sugar company website redirects to Snake River as well. It appears the newer entity may have been established as a lobby for widespread adoption of genetically modified seeds to obtain the sugar (see technology at bottom).
Last in this installment is mention of the Mormon’s relationship with coal power and copper. Ernest L. Wilkinson was president of Brigham Young University as well as a Washington lawyer and defeated Republican candidate for senate. In his time he was the topic of scandal that related to the university. Wilkinson headed a spy ring within the institution, to ensnare professors who displayed anything less than a Tea Party attitude. Upon conviction they’d be fired and removed from the Mormon hierarchy. More importantly, he worked for the Department of the Interior and drafted the Indian Claims Commission legislation (see pgs. 34-35 PDF).
His partner in matters of energy was fellow LDS attorney and Bishop, John Sterling Boyden. He was the legal representation for Peabody Energy Corporation while at the same time representing Hopi, Ute and Navajo Indians. In addition to his practice, Boyden presided over these indigenous converts as their prophetic leader. (His son inherited this church standing, see second entry.)
Peabody Energy is the largest private producer of coal in the world. In 1968 it was purchased byKennecott Copper Corporation, although due to anti-trust issues the acquisition was struck down and sold eight years later for $1 billion. For the record it is now owned by Rio Tinto, but during the time of Kennecott the Mormons were immediately involved.
H. David Burton was an executive with Kennecott, in addition to holding apostleship in the highest office of the Church. During tenure of these three Mormon figures they usurped the Black Mesa area from Natives, to strip mine their land for coal energy development that benefitted their respective companies.
Acting as the Indians’ bishop, John Boyden convinced the bands to sign a contract with Peabody. The Hopi’s didn’t have government of any sort to ratify a deal, so he ordained a tribal council from those he was able to convert to Mormonism. The tribe continues to assert these individuals had no authority to make legal decisions on behalf of all their people. In concert with Wilkinson at Church headquarters, they devised a plan to move forward regardless. Both attorneys fetched millions in legal fees from the government and tribes, to perform their services while playing for both teams.
It was deemed the Black Mesa Peabody Coal Controversy and environmental protection organizationsare bitterly studying the effects of this case at present. There were numerous repercussions from duping Indians into an agreement that would only pay them $0.30 per ton when market value was $1.50, to overusing water at a billion gallons per year to process the coal slurry. The aquifers Natives depended on for survival have been bled dry and now they’re forced to walk many miles with buckets to find water. A poignant article with photographs and their testimony about the Mormon relationship can be found here (or via PDF here).
More troubling is the Church’s explanation. They believe that since these Indians didn’t appreciate money in their culture, their reward was receiving the Mormon gospel. LDS called them “backwards people” and convinced themselves it was their duty to build the indigenous up from Lamanites into their version of civility. It was their calling to obtain this coal power for the sake of constructing the kingdom in places like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and so forth.
In the meantime Sylvan Wittwer was the Mormon bishop and president of Lansing Michigan Stake and he took up lobbying on behalf of coal energy to protect the Church’s interests. He hails from the neighbouring region to Mitt Romney and wrote many books suggesting carbon dioxide is good for the earth. As an executive member of the Greening Earth Society with direct relation to Peabody Energy, he argued against the science and perils of global warming. He replicated those efforts with the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, with further ties to Exxon Mobil.
This advice was obviously taken to heart by the Mormon Church, as they completed a land swap with Kennecott in 2011 to assume ownership of an old mining area. The company faced orders from the EPA to clean up a sensitive tailings pond, but it is now becoming an LDS neighbourhood complete with a scenic lake that no one is allowed to use.
Should Mitt Romney become the President of America all these friends will be knocking at his door. In Part 7: Insider Trading, we’ll see how closely they’re connected and who exactly owes whom.