Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
Laura Silsby is now Idaho poison. People are putting distance between themselves and the CEO of PersonalShopper.com and jailed Baptist missionary. PersonalShopper’s offices are shuttered and dark in Boise. The company’s COO and VP of Financing have changed their LinkedIn pages, dropping personal information and direct connections to their company. A local Idaho contractor talks to the Wall Street Journal about his dealings with Ms. Silsby then denies the statements 3 days later. Even her fiery pastor, Clint Henry, is now making statements attempting to put her at arm’s length
Clint Henry, Central Valley Baptist Church
Last week, Clint Henry was out in front of the fight, defending his detained flock in Haiti:
“One of the reasons that our church wanted to help is because we believe that Christ has asked us to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world, and that includes children.” After the 10 Americans were taken into custody, Rev. Henry went on to lead his congregation back in Idaho in prayer for the detainees: “Help them as they seek to resist the accusations of Satan and the lies that he would want them to believe and the fears that he would want to plant in their heart.” (AP via Yahoo News)
However, as of February 5, Pastor Henry was whistling a different tune (from KTVB.com):
“They [Silsby and other missionary Charisa Coulter] have been in our chuch for a couple of years probably at most, but somewhere during that period of time, they began talking about what they were envisioning to do, this dream they had….so our church is not a key player in making the orphanage happen, that is, what they have done.”
Ringing prayers of endorsement and complimentary denouncement of Satan for Ms. Silsby seems at an end.
Kuna, Idaho Contractor, denying WSJ article
A February 3rd Wall Street Journal article chronicles a fine idea gone wrong for Ms. Silsby: a good intentioned missionary, heart in the right place, big plans for her New Life Children’s Refuge project in the Dominican Republic. It seems, according to WSJ, Ms. Silsby had “equally grand ambitions” closer to home. The article went on to cite Mr. Eric Evans, a contractor living in Meridian, Idaho giving proof of that by reporting:
The Idaho plan called for a “multi-million-dollar complex” for runaway children on a 40-acre lot in Kuna, Idaho, according to Eric Evans, owner of Eric Evans Construction in Meridian. Ms. Silsby told him it would have an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and dormitories for the children, said Mr. Evans, adding that she had discussed having him build the project.
Weird thing is, however, today Mr. Evans is denying the WSJ interview. From the Idaho Statesman:
Eric Evans wants to make one thing clear: He is not building a multi-million-dollar complex for runaway children on a 40-acre lot in Kuna for Laura Silsby as reported in the Wall Street Journal on Friday. Evans has been deluged by reporters calling him and knocking on his door wanting to know more about the Kuna project, which he had never heard of until today. He said he did talk to the Journal, but did not know where the information about the Kuna home came from. Kuna City Planner Steve Hasson also has not heard of any such project. Evans met Silsby, who has been charged with child abduction in Haiti, a couple of years ago when he sold her a house in Meridian. He has not worked with her on any other projects since then, Evans said.
In this awkward situation, there are only two possibilities:
There is only one option I see as making any sense.
Personal Shopper Executives
Carol, a former PersonalShopper employee, told me that Jason Haugen, VP of Finance for PersonalShopper and Laura Silsby shared a mutual vision of business guided by God. Carol also mentioned the COO, Nicole Gerhing during our conversation, no mention of God with Nicole, Carol, referring to her as a “bean counter”.
I went where any good professional networker goes: LinkedIn. Naturally, both Gehring and Haugen have profiles. In the past couple of days, however they have changed.
Once an open profile, sharing personal information like her love of international travel and foreign languages, “especially French,” Nicole Gehring’s LinkedIn connection now is closed. The basic information remains, where she worked where she went to school, but the personal sharing is now gone.
Jason Huagen’s, two days ago listed as VP of Finance for PersonalShopper.com, LinkedIn profile changed in a similar way. When I visited his Haugen’s profile last week, it included all of the usual information. Where he went to school – Gustavus, St. Thomas and MIT (the guy is no slouch) – current occupation (was listed as VP of Finance at Personal Shopper.com ) and as owner of J.R. Haugen and Company, CPAs in Boise, Idaho.
He is no longer listed as VP of Finance for Silsby’s PersonalShopper. Jason’s past profile, the one that existed until maybe a day or two ago, listed in the personal sort of “about me” section he and his wife’s mutual passion for pre-marriage discipling.
Gehring and Haugen removing their public profiles from a social networking site in the wake of their business partner, Laura Silsby’s, international news making arrest seems like common sense. Haugen’s passion for dicipling may well have nothing to do with Silsby’s Baptist goals; Nicole Gehring’s understandable love of international travel and the french language wholly inconsequential. Eric Evans coming out in the Idaho Statesman denying claims of knowing Ms. Silsby’s runaway home plans, and Pastor Henry’s cooling fire both sheer coincidence.
Sources, further reading:
NOTE: I attempted to contact Mr. Evans via email with no reply. Additionally, I sent an email to the 3 authors of the WSJ article, Jeffrey Ball, Marck Schoofs and Joel Millman. I received a return email from Mr. Schoofs, directing me to contact someone else for a comment. I have and will update when I get a message back.