A Queens legislator - who insists a controversial detoxification program he's promoting in lower Manhattan isn't a front for Scientology - attended a celebrity-studded Los Angeles gala sponsored by the Church of Scientology. City Councilman Hiram Monserrate said he paid his own way Saturday to the glitzy Hollywood event celebrating the 38th anniversary of the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center.
Monserrate said the trip had no connection to his work on behalf of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project on Fulton Street, which is supported by Tom Cruise, Scientology's most famous adherent.
"The reality is the program is separate and apart from the religion," Monserrate said.
But fellow Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said Monserrate's appearance was proof that Scientologists are behind the detox facility, where 9/11 workers are provided free treatments to remove what are described as toxins from their bodies.
"I'm glad that the pretense of the detox center not being a front for Scientology is gone," said Vallone.
Monserrate had earlier sponsored a council proclamation honoring L. Ron Hubbard, who founded Scientology.
But Monserrate said his trip was strictly personal.
"I have some friends who are Scientologists and they invited me and I went," he said.