VBM Directors Marco Polo chats reveal they purposefully controlled the External Independent Investigation

Revealing Marco Polo chats between the VBM Directors during the Austin Gardner scandal and the ensuing investigation, audio clips from between August 19-23, 2021

While an investigation was discussed prior to Phil pushing for an investigation, no action was taken to seriously pursue an "external independent investigation" until AFTER Phil emailed the VBM email ring "Investigate."

Full Audio of Marco Polo Chat

Listen to full audio here. (1 hour 29 minutes)

Read below for some highlights.

These 8 VBM Directors were in the Marco Polo group chat:

  • Trent Cornwell, Jeff Bush, Travis Snode, Mark Coffey, Jason Holt, Mark Tolson, Robert Canfield, "Bradley"

The 7 most alarming concerns are below:

  1. Pastor Trent Cornwell of Vision Baptist Church was a part of and aware of these discussions
  2. Jeff Bush purposefully wanted to limit the scope to only include Becky's sexual abuse accusations and ignore the other accusations so that they would not be investigated
  3. Jeff Bush believed that if an external group whether secular or Christian were to investigate the VBM leaders that everyone would be removed and he did not want others to "clean house"
  4. Jeff remained in contact with Austin Gardner "Jefe" throughout the investigation
  5. Travis Snode found Lee Parks Jr. as the 3rd serious option besides Eric Knight and NCLA, and all of the Executive Directors knew that VBM would control the investigator, the scope, the findings, and how the findings were released
  6. Mark Tolson was glad that Travis found an investigator that VBM could control regarding the sham "external independent investigator"
  7. Jason Holt did not want anyone to investigate the mission agency or the org culture

August 19, 2021 by Jeff Bush

Okay, gentlemen, I'm not sure if you were able to read that letter. If so, I'm sure you've got several opinions, understandably so.

Nevertheless, let me state this and then I'll take whatever you want. One. No, I do. I do not like the this is moving into a sexual slash spiritual abuse. I don't like that at all. That's what not what was agreed upon? Nevertheless, it No, Jefe’s not gonna like it. I know you gentlemen do not like it. Nobody really likes this. And I asked for this. Now it's kind of putting me my back against the wall with with Jonathan Bailey and his group. And my back's already against the wall, all of ours, as with Jonathan Earnhardt, not trying to keep any friendship there necessarily. It is with Jefe at this moment, and this with a whole lot of pastors. But here's my thing. I don't know what to exactly do. And as you saw on the text, he said, maybe you're not the, we're not the ones for you. And I'm fine. If you guys say, I'm not doing this, we can back out. And I have thought about this and pray to do the right thing. And so I'm willing to hear whatever you have to say.

Nevertheless, I think, one Jefe he was talking about, he backed off Jefe backed off his lawyer, because he said, I want to be, you know, go the second mile, you know, turn the other cheek and different things. And I don't like that. Nevertheless, I respect that. And I understand that. Doing this really is going the second mile.

Secondly, I would say I don't have anywhere else to turn. My only other one was Eric Knight. And you guys didn't think that was the best, which I do agree with you just saying I didn't know what to do. When that did happen. They reached Jonathan Bailey's group, you know, they said they would take it so that was a blessing. Now more often this.

I don't know where else to go. If we go for a secular investigator, I think they're going to clean house. And there's nothing that anybody can do and no pastors are going to respect this. Secondly, if we get that Grace group [*https://www.netgrace.org*] or whatever, then they're going to clean house and all of us are gone. Just because the whole environment is toxic, quote, unquote, I don't know. So I think our back is against the wall. Either way. I don't like this. Nevertheless, I think this is the route that we need to go. Now. I will keep my mouth shut and let you gentlemen speak as you wish.




August 19, 2021 by Jeff Bush

Um, my apologies. So I spoke to Jonathan Bailey again. He said, which I, I know, he spoke to Trent as well, earlier. And he's been, he's very neutral. He said, Look, if you guys walked in, I don't know anybody there. I don't know, Austin Gardner. I don't know, anybody said, this is very unbiased. He said, but I know the independent artist world. We can either linger this on or we can, you know, get to the investigation and get things rolling. And I said, Well, I have some questions or seven other guys that do the voting, not just me. And so they want to know as far as how many other pastors are there? And are they independent Baptists? And he said yes. To other pastors. They're both Independent Baptist. He said, one is Pastor Travis Smith, in Tampa, Florida. He said, Independent Baptist, independent fundamental Baptist of admission agency, I think he's a head of a mission agency. He said, he doesn't know y'all. And we're looking for them. He said, There's one other but he hasn't confirmed I think it's in seems like Boston or I don't remember where he said. But he said those two guys, he said, they're both going to look at this. And he said, The best way to get this done. And I said, we don't want a scope of the spiritual abuse, because this can go on forever. And he said, Look, the best way is you can either keep it going on and on and on, or you get everything pulled out, put it on the table, and let them look at it and say no, this is actually, you know, not manipulation and bullying, this is actually not a sin. This is the way that, you know, he's just a domineering personality. There's not no sin in that. And he said, we'll lay it all out that way. And he said, This is really the only way you can get it done in our world. And so I said, Okay, what about payment? And he said, Well, we are thinking of if we can do if you guys are supporters of us $100 a month, he said, We'll only charge $5,000 for the entire investigation. And he said, he said we can't be on your side, nor can we be on represent the Earnhardt's he said, they do support us monthly. Therefore, if you all do as well, then there's only $5,000 for the the entire investigation, and that's all we you know, that's all we asked. I said, Okay, so in other words, out of your questions, there was one, the independent Baptists, he answered that question for me to the money and answer that question for us. And three, at least the big ones was the scope. And he said, you know, in today's world, he said, years ago, CLA walked in and he said, we're on the side of the church. He said that he said in 2021 You can't get away with things as far as people are different and they're going to see this spiritual abuse type thing. But these pastors are Independent Baptist, they're going to be able to look at it and say, No, that's really not sin. This is just the way things going so I don't see this as a problem. He seemed very put me at ease Are you already know my vote anyway? Nevertheless, he put me at ease with that. So anyway, there's the information you guys can ask. I'll let you know turn also spoke to him today. So there's my part of what I think and what he said.

August 20, 2021 by Travis Snode

Then Travis Snode found Lee Parks Jr. to only look at the sexual allegations. He was recommended to Travis from someone who Travis’ sister-in-law recommended.

Travis says, “He [Lee Parks Jr.] works for us.”

“He would work for us and we could release the report as we see fit.”

Rate would be $600/hr

August 21, 2021 by Travis Snode

We need a lawyer to help us so that we can control how we release the investigator’s report.

August 23, 2021

By Travis Snode

“Lee Parks Jr. is in. He is our investigator… and he works for us. He will not do anything or say anything without our permission. All the research that he finds we have control over it. …”

By Mark Tolson

That is good news to hear, Travis. So great news. ….”

The MCC thing was imploding and so if Trent is on board… Trent can respond to Tyler … and the 17 people can go to the ombudsman without publicly responding to them.

By Trent Cornwell

[Trent Cornwell was aware and a part of all these discussions.]

Trent preferred that the spiritual abuse accusations be handled by the local church.

How would our lawyer handle testimonies from Peru?

By Travis Snode

“He [Lee Parks Jr.] seems able to sort through what is legit and what is hearsay…

He’s only going to investigate the sexual abuse allegations of Becky E. against Austin Gardner.”

We can decide what we want him to investigate. …




By Jason Holt

What Mark Tolson was saying is relevant.

The only critique toward the board is that we have enabled Austin Gardner [the abuser] and allowed it…

I don’t think we need to have anybody investigate the board or our culture.


Full Audio of Marco Polo Chat

The 7 most alarming concerns are below: