Earlier this month, the Trump administration appointed George Mentz, an author and consultant with a penchant for unsettling power poses, to the Commission on Presidential Scholars. In the scope of things, this is a small matter: nominees don’t have to be confirmed by Congress, and the group’s essential function is to anoint 161 schoolchildren, name them “presidential scholars,” and give them a medal for being such good kids. What’s notable about Mentz is that he isn’t much of a scholar of anything, besides unlocking the infinite mystical power of “The Illuminati,” which honestly sounds about right.
According to his website, Mentz is an author, speaker, lawyer, consultant, and “global education pioneer.” Writing under the pen name “Magnus Incognito,” he writes self-help books about the “secret powers of the mind” and “Masonic spirituality and secrets.” For those not familiar, the Freemasons are a secretive, quasi-religious fraternity that in its contemporary context is mostly about aging men wearing a big ring on their meaty fingers. Under his real name, Mentz blogs prolifically for Newsmax, a website owned by a friend of Donald Trump’s. And his volume of work might be impressive, if his posts on investment strategy and the economics of diversity didn’t read as if they had been written by a poorly trained bot.=
In a good story this week from the Denver Post, a reporter noted that Mentz is also the owner of something called the Global Academy of Finance and Management in Colorado, as well as the former CEO of the American Academy of Financial Management. Like most online credentialing companies with vague names comprising of strung together management concepts both companies are technically legal but also a scam.
The Global Academy offers more than 100 credentials that sound alternately like positions you might hold in the Ku Klux Klan or WeWork, such as “Master Corporate Banker, “Certified Chartered FinTech Professional,” and “Registered Islamic Financial Specialist.” As Huffpo pointed out, the online coursework and certification costs nearly $400 dollars a piece, and certificates expire after two years, forcing a potential FinTech Professional to re-apply and shell out another $378 every few years to remain a “member.” In the early 2000s, the Wall Street Journal found that the American Academy actually wasn’t doing much in the way of coursework, reporting that a number of its “graduates” had never taken classes, or even a test. In 2010, another Journal article revealed that even the company’s board of advisors were made-up or had their names attached without their consent.
But perhaps most thrillingly, George Mentz, or Magnus Incognito, writes books with titles like The Illuminati Secret Laws of Money, The Illuminati Handbook, 50 Laws of Power of the Illuminati, 100 Secrets and Habits of the Illuminati for Life Success, and Success Magic—The Prosperity Secret to Win with Magical Spiritual Power: How to Grow Rich, Influence People, Protect Your Mindset and Love Yourself Like a Warrior Using Timeless Abundance Secrets.
As Mentz explained to the Post, however, all that Illuminati stuff is really marketing: these books aren’t about the shadowy cabal pulling the strings from inside the Deep State. They’re about, in the words of one book blurb, “how to be a BADASS with Spiritual Magic.” It continues:
This is your chance to learn the Secrets of the MASTERS. This book is LOADED with Secret Nuggets of Power. Read this book and you can Harness the Mindful Warrior Power needed to find purpose, happiness, relationships, and financial success. If you want to learn the basic truths to become a Spiritual and Metaphysical warrior, then you have found the secret manuscript that will get you on the path to success and power.
“Just because I use the word Illuminati, don’t let that get you too excited,” Menz told the Post. “If you look the word up, it means ‘illumination.’” Equally illuminating is that the newest member of the Commission on Presidential Scholars donated more than $10,000 to Trump’s various campaigns and organizations, and has been planning to write a “blockbuster” book about the president’s “success principles” for some time.
Can’t wait to read it, Magnus.