The Empire Strikes Back: VanderSloot to buy Pocatello TV station?

Word going around the Gate City today is that Frank VanderSloot, CEO of Melaleuca, Inc. and former national finance co-chair of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is preparing to expand his corporate and media empire by buying NBC-affiliate KPVI-TV channel 6 in Pocatello, Idaho. KPVI broadcasts throughout Southeast Idaho.

KPVI is currently owned by Intermountain West Communications Company. IWCC's CEO, James Rogers, bought the station in 1996.

VanderSloot's media arm, Riverbend Communications, owns radio stations KLCE, KCVI (Kbear), KTHK (The Hawk), KBLI and KBLY in Eastern Idaho. VanderSloot also owns businesses involved in ranching, land holdings and construction. His net worth has been estimated at more than a billion dollars.

VanderSloot and Melaleuca, Inc. have been strong supporters of conservative Republican causes, candidates and issues, though on very rare occasions supporting Democrats in Idaho. VanderSloot and Melaleuca have financially supported a variety of Republican campaigns in Idaho, including Lawrence Wasden for Idaho Attorney General, Idaho Supreme Court and district judicial candidates and conservative PACs.

Other causes VanderSloot has supported are sponsoring billboards in Idaho asking "Should public television promote the homosexual lifestyle to your children? Think about it!" in response to a PBS documentary on schools dealing with homosexuality. His wife, Belinda, donated $100,000 to California's Proposition 8 to rescind gay marriage in that state and VanderSloot allowed volunteers to use Melaleuca's call center to contact votes in California.

VanderSloot's political activities have been criticized in the media by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, reporter Glenn Greenwald in Salon and Mother Jones magazine, among others.

Greenwald wrote in Salon last year that VanderSloot has a history of suing or threatening to sue political critics in order to silence them. In 2007 Melaleuca, Inc. sued this blog, 43rd State Blues, for copyright infringement for posting a scan of a takedown letter we received from them. For more information on that lawsuit, click here.

That Frank VanderSloot might purchase an NBC television affiliate, after his clashes with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, is ironically fascinating.