Utah Governor Goes Total Boss Babe, Promotes Multi-Level Marketing Company
Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox has something in common with that girl you haven't seen since high school who has like, an amazing business opportunity she wants to tell you about — they're both shilling for dōTERRA.
In a tweet this week, Gov. Cox thanked doTERRA for providing "1 million On Guard® Hand Sanitizing Wipes to local students and teachers!"
In tackling major challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, people, businesses, and state government must work togethe… https://t.co/efMyb4T29g— Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox (@Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox) 1632776949.0
Under normal circumstances, you might say "Oh, that's nice of them" and then move on. In this case, it's not so simple — because doTERRA is a multi-level marketing company. If you've seen the "LulaRich" documentary or have read pretty much anything about MLMs, you can probably understand why it's not exactly great for the governor of an entire state to go around legitimizing this kind of business model, even if they are doing a technically "good" thing.
Where LulaRoe sells leggings and dresses, doTERRA sells "essential oils." The brand was started by former employees of Young Living, another essential oil MLM, and is based in Utah, like both Young Living and LulaRoe and a large number of other MLMs. As hideous as LulaRoe's leggings are, at least no one is claiming they cure autism. Or PTSD. Or Alzheimer's. Or Ebola.
illuminaughti YouTube channel screenshot — watch the video if you have time, it's great and very informative!
In 2014, following a major issue with sellers promoting essential oils as a cure for ebola, the FDA sent out a letter to doTerra and two other essential oil MLMs demanding they stop their sellers from claiming that these oils cure "viral infections (including ebola), bacterial infections, cancer, brain injury, autism, endometriosis, Grave's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, tumor reduction, ADD/ADHD, and other conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners."
In 2020, the FTC sent a letter to the company asking them to please stop their "business opportunity participants" from claiming that their products cure COVID. They also warned them to stop pretending like anyone can actually earn money from an MLM.
FTC staff has reviewed social media posts made by doTERRA International, LLC ("doTERRA") business opportunity participants or representatives that unlawfully advertise that certain products treat or prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and misrepresent that consumers who become doTERRA business opportunity participants are likely to earn substantial income. This letter is to provide you with information about laws and regulations enforced by the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") that may bear upon your business activities, including the activities of your business opportunity participants and representatives.
Any positive publicity these companies get from the government, from celebrities, gives them an air of legitimacy — and this makes it easier to recruit more hunbots I mean "business opportunity participants." And the thing with MLMs is that, as the FTC notes, they lie to people about how much money they can make, and frequently those people end up spending all of their money on products and going broke. Because the only way to actually earn money is to recruit a whole lot of people to sell underneath you, which you really can't do unless you get in at the ground floor. I think I can't legally call it a pyramid scheme, but let us just say it is a "business with a pyramid-like structure that has been known to send more than a few people into bankruptcy."
Insider identified 27 bankruptcy cases naming doTerra as a party. These cases took place between 2008 and 2020, and involved individual doTerra sellers declaring bankruptcy. Financial difficulties or outright ruin are common outcomes for MLM sellers: A 2018 survey from the AARP Foundation finding that 73% of respondents who participated in MLM schemes either lost money or made no money. Of the quarter of respondents who did earn money, 53% made less than $5,000.
doTerra is also a defendant in an ongoing civil case from a Minnesota seller named Ruth Van Horn, who alleged that the company's green tea extracts caused her liver to fail.
Yeah. While people tend to think essential oils are essentially safe, because "all natural," they can actually cause significant health problems, particularly if ingested.
Dr. Romy Block, board-certified endocrinologist and co-founder of Vous Vitamin, says essential oils can act as endocrine disruptors, which means they interfere with the natural production of your hormones.
"These chemicals can either lower or raise the normal hormone levels in the body," Dr. Block says, "causing disruption of development, reproductive changes or even interference with the immune system."
There's not enough evidence about all essential oils as endocrine disruptors to make any blanket statements, Dr. Block says, but a handful of essential oils have been linked to hormone-related health complications. Research has shown lavender oil to be associated with early breast development in girls, for example. Lavender and tea tree oil are also thought to lead to a condition called prepubertal gynecomastia (abnormal breast tissue growth) in boys.
Some can also cause allergies — and eucalyptus can cause seizures if ingested.
Perhaps just as seriously, MLMs have been known to compel people to make fools of themselves on social media, alienate themselves from practically everyone they've ever known, and call themselves "boss babes" with a straight face.
Cox is a Republican, so he probably doesn't really give a crap one way or another, but these companies are preying very specifically on the women in his state, partly due to the high number of Mormon women who are stay-at-home-moms. He should care. He should care that his actions could potentially lead someone to trust a company that is going to end up bankrupting them. But, again, he probably doesn't.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse