If the penalty for breaking the law is a fine, then that law only exists to punish the poor. That’s exactly what the Mormon Church found out recently after they hid BILLIONS of dollars from the government and only had to pay a $5 MILLION dollar penalty for it. Then, the sugary cereals that millions of Americans eat each day are far from healthy, but thanks to a loophole in FDA regulations, they can still be labeled as “healthy” to fool consumers. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: If the penalty for breaking the law is a fine, then the law only exists to punish the poor. That’s exactly what the Mormon church found out recently after they hid billions of dollars from the government and they only had to pay $5 million as a penalty. We’re talking about 32 to, somewhere between 32 and $35 billion that they hid from the government. They hid from the IRS. They hid from virtually everybody who’s supposed to be watching how they’re spending their money because they don’t pay taxes. You know, can you imagine this cult? It’s no, it’s a Scientology cult. Yeah, there’s a lot of them, a lot more of them than there is of Scientology, but we’re talking about a cult here. And so pick it up from there, would you.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. For 50 years this scam was going on with the, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, and they’re hiding all this money that they’re getting in, in donations. Nobody outside of this organization knows how much money they even had because it’s all hidden. And after years and years of piling up this money, finally you get the federal government that looks at it and says, oh my God, this is money that, because it’s investment money, not direct money to you, you do have to pay taxes on, you do owe the federal government a little bit of this. So you’ve got your 30 plus billion dollars. Give us 5 million and we’ll call it a day.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Okay. So look, here’s what’s really problematic. They’ve known about this since about 2017 or 2018, as we always expect for the feds, they do nothing about it until a whistleblower says, wait a second. You’ve known about this since 2018. You’re doing nothing about it. They’re stealing money basically, because the reporting of it in and of itself moves money around. Okay. And they have responsibilities with that money. The, they have a responsibility to say, A, where did the money come from? How are you using the money? Is it money that investors put in? Is it money that you’ve collected at your church? It, and they, they’re trying to say, well, we don’t have to pay taxes. So why is it all important? I love this last line. The lawyers, the, the lawyers comment on the fraud. Here’s what they said. Okay. First of all, yes, we lied to the SEC, we lied to the IRS. We agree, we regret our fraud, and we consider this issue closed. The arrogance of that. The arrogance of that. And the, it’s the same SEC understand that let Bernie Madoff steal billions of dollars from people’s, from people’s bank accounts. Bernie Madoff, SEC knew about it for 10 years and they let it go on. This is the same thing, isn’t it?

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And if we’re talking about percentage wise, $5 million penalty on $35 billion, we’re talking about, I, I think I’m trying to do the math real quick in my head. It’s either 0.1% or 0.01% of the money that they made off of these investments that they didn’t pay taxes on.

Mike Papantonio: How about this? It ain’t nothing.

Farron Cousins: Right.

Mike Papantonio: It ain’t nothing. Nobody’s, nobody’s going to, SEC doesn’t put anybody in jail. Department of Justice, you, you know, you know that story.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: And so it’s, so they get away with it. And if you tried that or I tried it.

Farron Cousins: Yeah, we’re gone.

Mike Papantonio: We’re gone, man. We’re going to prison.

Mike Papantonio: You know all that sugary cereal that millions of Americans eat every day, well, it’s not exactly healthy, but thanks to a loophole in FDA regulations, they can still be labeled is really healthy, good for consumers, good for your children, good for your health. And now the FDA wants to change that. Some of the biggest cereal makers are spending millions of dollars to make sure that they can call it healthy. Pick it up.

Farron Cousins: This is a truly bizarre story because it’s not something people would typically think about. Like, what do we care about cereal? Well, we’re lying to consumers is what these cereal companies want to continue to do. They’re going to the FDA, they’re spending millions on lobbyists to tell them we’ve gotta be able to lie because if we can’t slap that healthy label on, I mean, look how brightly colored the sugar is, then we can’t sell it. And we’re talking about cereals that typically studies have shown children do, you know, double the serving size, which means they’re getting as much sugar for breakfast. It’s the equivalent of eating just a Snickers bar for breakfast.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. So, so here’s their argument. Well, first of all, the craziest argument is, you know what constitutionally, we have a right to lie. We can lie to consumers. It’s our constitutional right to lie to consumers. Yes, we are lying to consumers and it’s okay and you can’t change that. That’s the first argument. The second argument is, you know what, we’re really doing this for the American public because poverty stricken people, they wanna make it more affordable and accessible for people who can’t afford a lot. So give this to the kids, let ’em fill up on sugar, send ’em off to school and everything’s gonna be okay. Some of it falls on the parents, right? I mean, some of this really does fall on the parent. A parent reads this, Fruity Pebbles. I mean, Lucky Charms. Don’t you say, well there’s, you know, probably some sugar here? Don’t you at least check that out? But the problem is they’re selling it as a healthy, safe product for your children.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. And look, there’s some vitamins in there, you know, they do pack it in there. But it’s the sugar that of course is the problem. I mean, diabetes is an epidemic here in the United States and these cereals sure as heck aren’t helping that. And to argue that, you know, as a, you know, producer, you have the right to lie. That’s no different than a car manufacturer saying, listen, there’s a good chance this car could fly.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: I mean, maybe you wanna buy it because it could fly.

Mike Papantonio: And constitutionally we can lie to you.

Farron Cousins: Right.

Mike Papantonio: So try to fly it and if it doesn’t work, we’re still okay.

Farron Cousins: You just gotta go really fast off that cliff. It’ll fly for a little bit.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: But that’s where we’re at. And these, unfortunately these manufacturers, you’re talking about Post, General Mills, Kelloggs, they’ve got a good chance at being successful here because they’ve successfully avoided this loophole closing in the past.

Mike Papantonio: The real ugly part of this are the freaks that are doing this for them. Talk about, it’s this really shady kind of PR group. They were the same people that argued on behalf of the Oxycontin industry.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Saying, oh, this is, you know, you don’t have any problems with this. This is not gonna be something that’s addictive. These are the same people that the cereal industry, they take ’em. Okay. The Oxy, the Oxy experience killed 150 people a day for what, two decades. Now let’s talk about this because we wanna make your little seven year old Freddy into a sumo wrestler. We don’t care if he’s morbidly fat. We don’t care if he gets diabetes because it’s our right to lie if we wanna lie.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. It’s this group, it’s called the Washington Legal Foundation, which sounds like a very, oh, well, they, Legal Foundation. Of course they’re good.

Mike Papantonio:: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: No. What it is, is really just a lobbyist organization. Like you said, they fought on behalf of the opioid manufacturers. They’ve done all kinds of things with the corn refiners. You know, sugar, sugar, sugar, pills, pills, pills.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: That is what this group does to make sure we keep those on our streets.

Mike Papantonio: But don’t you see the connection here? How, how it’s almost dark humor. This is this, this creepy Washington organization works in the dark. They worked in the dark on Oxycontin knowing that they were, that 150 people a day were dying from Oxycontin. Now let’s move over to little seven year old fat Freddy who’s eating two bowls of this every morning and then off to school and he ends up with diabetes, he ends up morbidly fat. And what are you gonna do about that? It’s our right to do it. We, we have a right to do that.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. It, it’s truly disgusting. Even just from the humanitarian aspect of it, you know, you like to talk about it this time, this all the time, excuse me. These people go home from work and they sit down and the kids are, how was your day at work? Oh, it’s great. I fought to make sure that poor people become morbidly obese and end up with health problems later in life.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. In other words, you’re talking about the people that work for this organization.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: That’s your good day, right? I had a success today. We’re gonna have more little fat Freddy’s around, seven year old sumo wrestlers. We’re gonna create a whole generation because we’re gonna sell Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles. And you know what? We’re gonna argue we have a constitutional right to lie to the American public to do it. That’s that story, isn’t it?

Farron Cousins: It is.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.