Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Republican National Convention Features Michelle Van Etten

Tiger Blood of the Daily Beast has an interesting scoop:
A multi-level marketer who peddles pseudoscience—and whose product is endorsed by America’s leading conspiracy theorist—is scheduled to speak in a primetime slot Wednesday at the Republican National Convention. Michelle Van Etten was presented by the RNC in a Sunday evening press release as a “small business owner” who “employs over 100,000 people.” That’s roughly 1.5 times the number of employees Apple employs in the United States, making it a highly unlikely claim. For such a supposedly large employer, she has flown under the radar—until the announcement of her speech at the convention, there was no record of her business work in the press. Van Etten is involved in selling products that claim to improve health and even fight cancer, all based on dubious science. And as you peel the story back, every single layer is fascinating: there’s Alex Jones hysteria, pyramid-scheme-style marketing, and questionable Clemson University research.
Products that improve one’s health based on dubious science takes me back to the Gero Vita scam:
Almon Glenn Braswell (1943-2006) sold pills and potions through the mail. He probably took in more money and more people than any similar marketer in U.S. history. This article details what he did, looks at connections he had with prominent politicians, and describes some of the actions law enforcement took against him…Some of the products may have had some effectiveness (though overpriced), but most were promoted with misleading claims. .. One reason for Braswell's commercial success was his association with health professionals whom he listed as advisors and/or authors of articles in his publications.
In short – his firm was selling snake oil. It also found a way of dodging taxes that drew criminal complaints from the IRS. And of course the political connections:
Braswell had connections to George W. Bush and George's brother Jeb Bush, when he was Governor of Florida. Braswell and his companies have donated a total of at least $220,000 to their campaigns and to the Republican Party
Trump and Van Etten / Bush and Braswell.

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