Lawson’s New Age Cash
by Hank Sims, February 8, 2012
This year’s bumper crop of Congressional candidates has filed its most recent round of campaign finance-related documentation, and the big story is the huge number of dollars accrued by candidate Stacey Lawson. The businesswoman, entrepreneur and academic may have no political experience to speak of, but she’s managed to pull in a whopping $456,000 in donations to date, a number second only to establishment candidate Jared Huffman’s $586,000.
What’s driving the Stacey Surge? Lots of things. The Federal Elections Commission’s website isn’t currently reporting the most recent itemized list of her contributors — the latest item on the list is from Sept. 30 — but a quick look at this earlier breakdown is interesting. It accounts for $236,710 of the $433,000 in itemizable contributions that she’s now reporting.
San Francisco high society figure and political queenmaker Susie Tompkins Buell maxed out her Lawson contributions early, giving $5,000 to the campaign. People with the last name of “Lawson” gave a total of $21,000. And there are lots and lots of contributions from Silicon Valley executives and people associated with high finance nationwide.
But there’s another sector of the economy that’s showing a clear preference for Lawson: Big New Age. Lawson herself, as has been previously noted, is something of a player in the Witchy World of Woo-Woo, with a specialty in the intersection of the New Age and management theory. Her fellow wooers have been digging deep to teleport one of their own to Capitol Hill. A couple of hours of research ties at least 15% of her available itemized contributions to this area of her life.
Start with the $10,000 she received from the family of George Zimmer, he of Men’s Wearhouse fame. As a recent Santa Rosa Press Democrat story reported, Lawson and Zimmer are both on the board of the Petaluma-based Institute of Noetic Science, which conducts research into telekinesis and other mind-over-matter affairs. Lawson herself conducted a “teleseminar” for the Institute in 2007, and currently serves as its research committee chair.
Lawson’s campaign picked up an additional $2,000 from William Sechrest, the Institute’s chairman.
People associated with the Pennsylvania-based Pillai Center for Mind Science have also given generously. The man himself — Dr. Baskaran Pillai — chipped in the maximum $5,000. The family of Dr. Vish Iyer — like Lawson herself, a director of the Pillai-related Tripura Foundation — were good for another $10,000. Beth DesMarais of the astrology-based Pillai spinoff Astroved kicked in $550. Sonja Benkovich of Vaaak Sounds, a company that runs the main Pillai website, gave $500.
Up in Wisconsin, the family of Jim Walsh of the HESA Institute (“Human Energy Systems Alliance”) gave $6,000. And back at the astral center of the New Age, Michael Murphy, former chairman of the Esalen Institute, gave another $5,000.
Strangely enough, though, Lawson’s own videos promoting her New Ageish work have mostly disappeared from the Internet. She once ran a YouTube channel called “StaceyTV,” but the videos in that channel are almost all gone. A site called “SpiriTube” has preserved the links, and also offers descriptions of the videos:
• Stacey Lawson talks about the yogic teaching “You Become As You Think” and about what both scientist and mystics are learning about the power of the mind.
• How To Be Happy, Love More and Create a Great Life. In this video, Stacey Lawson interviews best-selling author Byron Katie on how Love can dissolve our stories and bring us face-to-face with Reality.