On the surface Herbalife is a very charitable company. I’ve lost track of all the positive Foundation headlines, particularly in Latino communities. But once I see Herbalife through a new pair of glasses, the Truth turns everything on its head.
Here’s the thing: if Pablo Escobar was selling Coca-Cola, then his charity building football fields and community centers in Columbia was doing God’s work. However, he wasn’t selling Coca-Cola or doing God’s work. He was selling cocaine and using his “charity” as part of a calculated deception to manipulate the hearts and minds of the neighborhoods he was ripping apart. He’s was an order of magnitude more sinister because his “charity” was being used as an instrument in his crime.
The same logic applies to Frank Lucas, who gave away free turkeys in Harlem on Thanksgiving Day, because it was his heroin tearing apart the neighborhood.
When the New York Mafia controlled the garbage collection racket, they avoided sunlight and funneled money to politicians through the Private Sanitation Industry Association (PSIA) trade group. We hear much about Pershing Square lobbying or influence peddling, less about Herbalife, and almost nothing about the Direct Selling Association (DSA). A handful of companies and individuals indirectly controlled the PSIA agenda, all Mafia. Individual companies gave to charities, held block parties, BBQ’s and had fireworks on the Fourth of July in local communities to influence public perception. It’s a business method that has worked for decades… until Rudy Giuliani put an end to it.
The Herbalife Family Foundation and the Casa Herbalife programs are used by Michael Johnson in his carefully conceived Global Brand Imaging campaign, designed to obfuscate and deceive participants, the public and regulators about the true nature of Herbalife – a criminal racketeering organization.
If Herbalife is simultaneously selling a healthy lifestyle, the cure for global obesity, as well as combating malnutrition in World Bank target countries, then their charity in local Latino communities is great work too. But if they and their top recruiters are systematically siphoning billions of dollars from the same Latino communities through a sophisticated criminal enterprise then obviously their charity and Foundation is a free Frank Lucas Turkey. Don’t be fooled.