By DOUGLAS FRANTZ
The Church of Scientology has denied that its leader and another official had an unscheduled meeting in October 1991 with Fred T. Goldberg Jr., then the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.
A statement released by the church said that its leader, David Miscavige, did not have an impromptu meeting with Goldberg and that all meetings between church representatives and IRS officials were attended by many people and were scheduled. Scientology made this and other arguments in a full-page ad that appeared Wednesday in the New York Times.
The church's statement differed from an account of the session presented in an internal Scientology publication in 1994. The publication's version formed part of the basis for a description of the meeting in an article on March 9 in The New York Times.
The article said that, after the meeting with Miscavige and another church official, Goldberg formed a special committee to negotiate a settlement with Scientology in its long-running fight to obtain tax-exempt status from the IRS. In a ruling that surprised many tax experts and ended the 25-year fight between the church and the IRS, every Scientology entity in the United States was granted a tax exemption in 1993.
The IRS has refused to say whether Goldberg had an unscheduled meeting with Miscavige. Goldberg, who left the agency in 1992, has declined to comment.
In its new statement, the church said, "While an internal publication of three years ago does recount Miscavige approaching the IRS, it never states he was granted an unscheduled meeting on demand."
In a separate letter to The Times, Marty Rathbun, a church official, said he and Miscavige walked into the reception area at the IRS building in Washington and requested a meeting with the commissioner. Rathbun said they were put in touch with the appropriate officials and met with Goldberg and other IRS officials approximately one month later.
In 1994, International Scientology News, an internal Scientology publication, said Miscavige and Rathbun were in Washington with a few hours to spare and decided upon "an impromptu visit" to the IRS.
It said they presented themselves to a security guard and asked to see Goldberg. When asked if they were expected, according to that church account, the Scientology officials replied: "No. But if you phone him on the intercom and tell him we are from the Church of Scientology, I'm sure he'd love to see us."
The account continued: "Mr. Miscavige was right. The meeting with the commissioner of the IRS did take place. And so began two years of numerous meetings and intense dialogue between the Church and the IRS."
(See also Scientology issues an untruthful statement on its tax exemption.)
Last updated 17 April 1997
by Chris Owen (firstname.lastname@example.org)