The St. Petersburg Times in Florida has been running lots of hard-hitting stories about Scientology lately.

So guess what? They are in the midst of selling a magazine they own in Washington, D.C., called Governing, to e. Republic, a Scientology publisher located in Folsom, Calif. E.Republic has four publications including one called Government Technology.

And there’s more: On the website page for the story about the sale in today’s St. Petersburg Times there’s a video ad for… Scientology! A source familiar with the paper and its workings says Scientology paid $1 million for the ads on the paper’s website.

A 2001 Sacramento News & Review story from 2001 about e.Republic explains more about its history.

The story, by Jim Evans, recounts the history of e.Republic and its connections to Scientology. Evans writes: “All new hires at e.Republic, a publishing company based in Folsom, California, are required to not only read [a basic Scientology manual], but also take a course based on its contents, which — notwithstanding the grandiose description above — reads much like the same kind of hokey training materials that millions of workers try to avoid daily, except Hubbard’s methods have the higher goal of ‘improving conditions in your business, your life and on Earth in general.’”

What the heck is going on here? Are publishers so hard up for cash that they’ll take money from the subjects of their exposes? Calls to Andrew Corty of the St. Petersburg Times and Christopher Swope of Governing were not returned. But the strangeness of the situation cannot be overlooked. The Times has run several exposes about abuses in Scientology just this year.’ They can be found here.

More to come…

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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