Friday, August 08, 2008

What is Brandi really up to?

Chris is compiling links to "Brandi goes to China" here. I think this will resonate in the blogosphere for a while. Not Swindell's cause, but the reaction to her stunt. At least, I hope it will. I agree with Chris that the traditional media just reports on what Swindell is doing without filtering whether her activities are worthy of reporting.

Supporting human rights in China is a noble enough cause, but going to Tienanmen Square at the start of the Olympics and unfurling a banner is a stunt, one specifically designed to get them in conflict with the Chinese authorities. Granted, the conflict draws attention to their cause, but it also certainly draws attention to them personally. The last time I heard anything about Ms. Swindell praying for Falun Gong was when she went to D.C. to get arrested. I can find nothing releveant since then. This makes me think she's not really trying to promote Falun Gong supporters as much as she is using this issue to promote herself. And that's okay, too. My beef is with the reporting.

While the traditional media is interested in the story, I hope they check into Swindell's claim that she "is the founder and National Director of Generation Life," and "is the Founder and Executive Director of Stanton Healthcare Services."

The stories tend to describe Swindell as the national director of Generation Life, which makes one think that GL has national scope and lends her credence as such. Well, I guess she does fly around the country, but I see no evidence that GL has any national presence, or that it is anything other than another name for Ms. Swindell .

A Google search turns up stories of Ms. Swindell and various protests and whatnot in the name of Generation Life, but nothing else about the organization. There is a like-named group in Pennsylvania, but I can find no link between the two. The PA group is, and the address that Swindell lists on her website is, but that's a dead link. I can find nothing that indicates that Generation Life, as used by Swindell, is anything other than a front for her activities. And that's okay, but her claim that "Generation Life is a grassroots movement of activists, students, artists, and musicians committed to ending abortion and spreading the message of sexual integrity" looks pretty bogus and overstated to me.

Swindell reports that Gen Life is her 40 hour/week job.

And, love this little tidbit, Republican go-to-guy for finance reporting Cordell Chigbrow is Gen Life's tax preparer.

I have no reason to doubt her claim about Stanton Healthcare, but the organization is definitely an enigma. Stanton is not registered with the Idaho Secretary of State, and it has not (that I can find) filed any IRS form 990 (non-profit income statements). Even if Stanton is incorporated in some other state, it ought to file a dba with the Sec of State. It looks like Stanton has been around since at least 2004 (see domain registration below). Here's its face bookMySpace page. Here's a link to "The Stanton Project," which lists some fundraising and other news. The link to the story about a banquet has pix of Swindell, and of Bill Sali addressing the group.

Looking over the site I found this quote:
volunteers, staff and even board members are required to go through the all-day event which features an overview of the ministry, the biblical and philosophical foundation, a vision of where Stanton is going and a logistical tour of what will take place when a client enters the door.
My conclusion is they've set a front that they're calling "a life affirming medical clinic" but in reality it's an effort to stop abortions. Which is great, except that they seem to be providing anti-abortion counseling to pregnant women, by religiously-motivated volunteers, under the guise of a "medical clinic."

Here's what Stanton claims to do. The first sentence makes the "medical clinic" claim. Also, note the red underlined phrase. Stanton claims to provide legal advice. I wonder who their lawyer is. If they don't have one, the State Bar might be interested in this claim.

Stanton's web site also claims:
"Stanton Healthcare is a non-profit 501c3 organization.

Our team of physicians, nurses, social workers, client advocates and other trained volunteers offer you individualized and confidential services.

Our trained nurses and staff will work to ensure that you receive medically accurate information.

Every person that seeks services from Stanton Healthcare is met by one of our trained client advocates. A client advocate is a person equipped with the knowledge to guide you with options, programs and services to provide you with the best possible care. ... your client advocate will offer options with the goal of enhancing your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. ... the client advocate will determine services and programs best suited for your needs."
Does this sound like "conduct[ing] assessments for the purpose of establishing treatment goals and objectives?" If so, this is counseling and the person doing it must have a license. Idaho Code section 54-3402.

Here's the building at the address given for Stanton. Discrete is an understatement. You can't tell what is in the building. Per the county assessor, the parcel at the given address houses a daycare, a gym, and offices for the Vineyards church. No medical clinic. No taxes have been paid for the parcel in the last few years, so I'm assuming the the Vineyards bought this property and now it's off the tax roles.

Here's the domain registration. Same address as on Stanton's website, same as listed for Vineyards Christian Fellowship, Inc., same address listed with the Sec of State for Swindell's Generation Life.

All in all it looks like Stanton is an arm of the Vineyard's church, and Swindell's role as "Founder and Executive Director" sounds highfalutin but probably doesn't really entail much.

To clarify what point I'm trying to make, I see nothing wrong with Swindell's advocacy. However, I think the media are giving her credence for more gravitas than she deserves, based on what we know about her. So, if someone could find out more about what Generation Life and Stanton Healthcare are doing, it might support giving Swindell that credence, or it might reveal that she's not entitled to it. And if not, she's not deserving of the media coverage she gets.

I can't find any Secretary of State filing for Vineyards church, nor any IRS 990, so I guess they're exempt from such. Which might explain why there's nothing for Stanton. But if Stanton is the 501(c)(3) medical clinic it claims to be, shouldn't there be something filed or reported?

Update: Corrected Face Book to My Space page, per Adam's critique.


Wordsmith said...

I was looking for something and ran across this:

"Michael McMonagle, a national Catholic pro-life activist and founder of Generation Life in Philadelphia, adds, "We are willing to risk some minor hardship to provide this public witness for Jesus Christ and against the worst human rights abuses in the history of the world. Our prayer is our witness will stir Christians across the world to take a public stand for Jesus Christ and His Gospel of Life."

The only link or THE link may only be Michael McMonagle. from August 6th.

Directly under the above story is the identification of Brandi Swindell of Boise Idaho, National Director of Generation Life; and Michael McMonagle, of Philadelphia, national Catholic pro-life activist and founder of Generation Life.

alan said...

I think I recall seeing a link when I looked at it a year or so ago. I'b bet that the new Gen Life has split from Swindell in smoe fashion. Maybe she's too busy or something.

Anonymous said...

China opens to the world and pulls off an epic that makes Las Vegas green with envy and Idaho....

sends over religious wingnut White Trash to protest...typical

G.S. Avenger said...

Ms. Swindell campaigned vigorously to keep the 10 commandments rock in Julia Davis park. Item # 9 on the rock says something about … “bearing false witness…” or what is commonly referred to as lying. Now in order to get into China she had to fill out paperwork stating her purpose for visiting the country. Had she told the truth, as have so many other activists who have had their visa request denied, China would have never let her in.