Badpuppy Gay Today

Tuesday, 29 April 1997


Pilots Say He Used Medical Relief Plane for Diamond Mine Business

By Jack Nichols


Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed's long-time boss, the televangelist hate-sponsor, Pat Robertson, has been accused by two pilots who have been in his employ of using a tax- exempt a medical relief plane, supported by "religious" collections, to service his diamond mine business in central Africa.

Robertson, who is the undisputed Grand Poobah of anti-gay, anti-lesbian hate, a former failed Presidential candidate and the unimpressive host of TV's 700 Club, a well-known daily "religious" program which allows Robertson to express monumental distortions of Christian thought, refused to be interviewed about the use of his "medical" planes in the service of his diamond mining business.

Robertson's tax-exempt medical relief program, Operation Blessing, has, instead, blessed Robertson's business schemes, say two pilots, Robert Hinkle and Tahir Brohi, a co-pilot from England. According to these men, planes flown to Zaire, purportedly for humanitarian purposes, have been diverted, almost without exception, to support Robertson's little-known diamond mining ventures.

Three Operation Blessing planes were used in September 1994, but the pilots claim that only two of their flights (out of 40 forays during a 6 month period) were used for their stated purposes. These startling but welcome revelations surfaced Sunday in The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot.

A Robertson spokesperson at first denied the truth of the allegations, but later, Vice-president for Public Relations at Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, attempted to put a different spin on the pilots' unsettling accusations, explaining that the planes had turned out to be "unsuitable" for medical relief and that Robertson reimbursed Operation Blessing for their use.

"If these pilots charges become widely known," said Margaret Wallace, who monitors Robertson's anti-gay rhetoric, "this news could turn into a much deserved scandal every bit as damaging to money-hungry televangelists as were the Jim and Tammy Bakker frenzies."

"We hauled medical supplies one time," said Robert Hinkle, "It might have been about 500 pounds at the most. It was a very minimal amount." The delivery planes could have hauled as much as 7,000 pounds, said the Chandler, Arizona native.

Hinkle kept notes which contained entries for 36 flights. Seventeen of such entries mention the purposes of the flights, and of these 15 relate to diamond mining.

Robertson's diamond business, the African Development Company, showed him as president and sole shareholder. His boasts about Operation Blessing became numerous on his 1994 700-Club TV shows, allowing viewers to believe their contributions to the Robertson ministry would, in fact, rescue sick citizens in Zaire.

1997 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission e-mail

GayToday Image Map