Photos taken at a CPAC party with Texas Rep. Steve Stockman drinking near a hot tub actually show another link in the chain that connects self-proclaimed ‘Tea Party Republicans’ like Stockman with election wrongdoing and establishment GOP figures like Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.
The man standing next to Stockman is Dimitri Kesari and unless you’ve been closely following the #Staffergate story I’ve been reporting for several months, he’s probably nobody you’ve ever heard of.
However, be on notice: there are currently not one but TWO grand juries looking into illegal election activity connected to Dimitri Kesari, so it’s a name you might want to remember.
The “CPAC Hot Tub Party” becomes notorious, especially after Lachlan Markay put out two photos that show Stockman standing next to the hot tub with a drink in his hand…but few noticed that he was standing next to Dimitri Kesari.
(For a different take on Hot Tub Party, read this from Miss Ruth at Misfit Politics. Full disclosure: Miss Ruth gave me a brownie once.)
This story involves connections between well-known people like McConnell and Stockman and the people behind the scenes that few people have heard of.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Washington insiders connected to this:
- Dimitri Kesari: a GOP operative and the man in the photo; established connections to Stockman and McConnell
- Donny Ferguson: Stockman’s right hand man; was also involved in Montana political scandal connected to Kesari
- Eugene Delgaudio: Controversial politician and operative from Virginna, he dropped a big mailer during the Stockman primary campaign but didn’t reveal close ties to Donny Ferguson. Delgaudio is also very close to Kesari.
- Dan Backer : Attorney who was the campaign treasurer for Stockman; he also funneled Tea Party donor money to McConnell campaign.
Who is Dimiti Kesari?
As I wrote in my December, 2013 article #StafferGate, Steve Stockman, Donny Ferguson & The Montana Connection, Dimiti Kesari was one of the people behind the secret printing presses that were helping candidates, apparently in violation of election law. The Montana election malfeasance is major scandal in that state.
Dimitri Kesari is a longtime political operative with extensive ties to both the National Right to Work Committee and the Ron Paul movement. Kesari has set up groups connected to both Paul’s Campaign for Liberty as well as affiliates of the NRTWC.
So, how does this all Iowa activity relate to Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, his campaign manager / senior advisor Danny Ferguson, and the trouble in Montana?
To understand that, you need to know about the secret printing presses that Dimitri Kesari is said to have set up in Iowa.
The secret Iowa printing operation allowed Kesari to coordinate political mailings for candidates using voter lists that were targeted using surveys that had been conducted by, among other, groups connected to the National Right to Work Committee. Sources involved say that these mailings were done in Iowa ‘off the books’; not listed an expense as required by election law on the candidates expenditure records.
Kesari was also at the center of another scandal in Iowa in 2011, where Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson was paid $100,000 to jump ship from the presidential campaign of Rep. Bachmann to that of Ron Paul.
Part of that massive payment came in the form of a $25,000 checkwritten to Sorenson’s wife by a top Ron Paul staffer named Dimitri Kesari. The Iowa ethics investigation reported included a photo of the check, which Sorenson had not cashed. Dimitri Kesari had written the check from the account of a jewelry business owned by Kesari’s wife. In this secretly recorded audio, Sorenson claims that Dimitri Kesari had written the check at a restaurant dinner and given it to Sorenson’s wife while Sorenson was using the restroom.
Kesari was the deputy campaign manager for Ron Paul’s campaign at the time and it’s still unclear where he got the money to bribe Sorenson. Sorenson stepped down from office after an ethics reported revealed this info: more on that story here.
Kesari also has a connection to Stockman spokesman Donny Ferguson though Loundoun County, Virigina political fundraiser and performance artist Eugene Delgaudio. I wrote about Ferguson’s connection to Delgaudio in this story that was rejected by Breitbart Texas managing direct Brandon Darby.
There’s another interesting connection to my dismissal by Darby: I was fired by Darby over research I was doing in Steve Stockman’s campaign treasurer Dan Backer and how he’d funneled money to Mitch McConnell AND Stockman’s primary opponent John Cornyn.
Interestingly enough, Kersari was also paid $70,000 by Mitch McConnell’s campaign in 2013. The money went through a shell corporation called Hyllus that was tracked to Kersari by Open Secrets back in November:
Kesari did not return emails about yesterday’s story or today’s findings. Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s grandson-in-law who is running McConnell’s campaign, also did not return an email asking for comment.
Besides the $61,954 paid by the McConnell campaign, the senator’s leadership PAC,Bluegrass Committee
, also paid Hyllus
$10,145 on Feb. 19 — the same day the campaign paid the firm $7,102.
Five years after the birth of the Tea Party, welcome to the sell out.
This is turning into a pattern, it seems. Just like the story that got me fired from Breitbart about The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund, another PAC has given big to establishment Republican Senators John Cornyn and Mitch McConnell.
And predictably by this point, the treasurer is Dan Backer, Esq.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) won his Senate seat with explicit support of various Tea Party groups. He won it with the support of Tea Party favorites like Sarah Palin.
Now that he’s in office, Scott seems to have lost his taste for tea.
What else explains why Tim Scott’s Tomorrow Is Meaningful PAC–TIM PAC for short–give $10,000 to McConnell’s campaign? Or $5,000 to Cornyn? Or…even $2,500 to Susan Collins? These are not exactly Tea Party favorites.
Check the expenditure reports at OpenSecrets.org yourself:
That is not a list to warm the heart of any patriotic Tea Party supporter.
Oh, and in case of you were wondering — the The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund that Backer is treasurer of did give Scott a little money; $1,000. In fact, by my calculations five of the seven Senate candidates that The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund gave money to seem to have Dan Backer connections.
Note : All of this assumes that Backer filled out the reports I’m discussing here correctly. It seems that sometimes Backer doesn’t fill out the FEC filings correctly and it’s not my job to constantly check his work.
If my calculations and the filing are correct, the Senate campaign of Rep. Steve Stockman (treasurer: Dan Backer, Esq.) paid more money out TO Todd Cefaratti’s group The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund and to Cefaratti’s company Glengary, Inc than the The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund paid TO Stockman.
In other words, it looks like Todd Cefaratti’s company and political group made a slight profit on the Stockman campaign, while giving the impression that The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund was supporting him.
The Players: Todd Cefaratti & Dan Backer
If you aren’t familiar with The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund and Todd Cefaratti, here’s a news story from 2010 to give you a sense of who we’re talking about here:
CBS 5 News began its investigation into the company after receiving a phone call from an East Coast tea party activist who said nobody within the tea party movement he had spoken to had heard of the Mesa organization. The caller also told CBS 5 News it did not appear the organization was spending any of its donations to support tea party priorities.
Among the findings of the CBS 5 News investigation, the organization spent $181,000 on Google, Facebook and other websites for advertising. As a result, when CBS 5 producers typed the phrase, “tea party,” into the Google search engine, the first paid advertisement that popped up was for JoinTheTeaParty.us.
Additional digging into the organization’s background revealed the director of the nonprofit also has ties to companies that collect and sell people’s personal information. Todd Cefaratti is listed as the director the the nonprofit, as well as a company known as reverseleadclub.com.
At a recent tea party rally at the state Capitol, no tea party supporters approached by CBS 5 News had heard of the website.
Flash forward to 2014.
Ceferatti’s group is now called The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund and they’ve raised close to $3,500,000 in donations from ads such as this one from Facebook that tells donors they are supporting the Tea Party Movement.
Before we go into the numbers, another thing to note is that The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund’s treasurer is Dan Backer, Esq. That’s important because the treasurer for Steve Stockman for Senate campaign is none other than Dam Backer, Esq.
That’s correct : the same Dan Backer oversees money going in and out of both the Stockman campaign and the TPLF.
The Money In & Out of The Stockman Campaign
This is fairly simple math.
What did The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund give TO Stockman? According to their filings, $2,500.
Going through the latest FEC filing from Stockman (prepared by Dan Backer, Esq) you can find that Stockman seems to have giving $2,590.50 TO The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund and Todd Cefaratti’s company Glengary, Inc.
So, it appears Cefaratti’s company and organization didn’t actually give Stockman’s campaign money. They made $90.50.
Not a huge profit, of course. Almost certainly legal.
What is Glengary, Inc?
Under the guidance of President and CEO Todd Cefaratti, Glengary Inc. has become the nation’s premier reverse mortgage lead provider. Founded by Todd Cefaratti in 2007, Glengary Inc. works with some of the top lenders in the country to find homeowners seeking additional income. Reverse mortgages do not require payback while the borrower still lives in the house, so these types of loans are usually only available to senior citizens.
Catch that last line?
Let’s repeat it, so you’re clear on who is on Glengary’s lists: “…these types of loans are usually only available to senior citizens.”
You know. Senior citizens. Like these Tea Party people protesting in Washington, D.C. last year: the sort of people who want to support the Tea Party Movement.
Here are two videos I made that relate to this story. The first explains how Tea Party donor money (much of it probably from patriots and vets like the men seen above) went to Establishment GOP candidates McConnell and Cornyn.
The second shows how I was fired from Breitbart Texas and betrayed by Brandon Darby, who is trying to discredit me and kill this story.
Do real grassroots candidates have a chance?
I just interviewed Ohio congressional candidate Eric Gurr, who is challenging John Boehner in the May primary.
If you’re following my reporting on The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund, there are number of interesting details about the difference between the real Tea Party groups in Ohio and how highly financed The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund came into Ohio and dealt with candidates.
Among the details in this interviews is the direct involvement of The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund treasurer in their ‘debate’ in Ohio. They also appear to have told Gurr he was too tough on immigration because he favored deportation.
You read that right.
Interesting listening: it’s about 20 minutes long.
Follow the money.
How did $20,000 in donations that people thought was going to the “Tea Party Movement” end up in the hands of establishment Republicans Mitch McConnell & John Cornyn?
The transactions don’t show up on the TeaParty.net Leadership Fund list of candidate expenses. It’s all a matter of public record but it’s been hidden of diverting it through a JFC or Joint Fundraising Committee.
The story was even reported back in 2013 by Roll Call, but went largely unnoticed and Roll Call didn’t catch the connection of attorney Dan Backer to so many groups involved. Roll Call wrote:
A national tea party committee, the Tea Party Leadership Fund (formerly known as the TeaParty.Net Leadership Fund), a hybrid PAC with a noncontribution account, based in Alexandria, Va., contributed $40,000 in May to In Defense of Free Speech JFC, a joint fundraising committee set up in May. The $53,800 in proceeds were split between four candidates, with each getting $13,450. The candidates were McConnell, Cruz, Lee and John Cornyn, R-Texas. The McConnell Senate Committee ’14 was sent $10,950 on June 29 and $2,500 on June 25.
Follow the steps used to send Tea Party donor money to Cornyn & McConnell and note all the connections to Dan Backer and don’t take my word for it: click the links.
When people are urged to donate to The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund, they are told their money to support the Tea Party Movement. Here’s their donation page:
How did money end up in Mitch McConnell and Cornyn’s coffers?
One common link is Virginia attorney Dan Backer, who is the treasurer for The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund, who took in over $3.4 million in donations in this election cycle. Most of the money went to fundraising and ‘unclassifiable’ expenses.
One of the groups biggest expenditures was $40,000 to a group called In Defense of Free Speech JFC.
In Defense of Free Speech JFC was originally set up by in 2013 by Dan Backer, who was also the group’s original treasurer. Laster, a woman named Christina Sirois–who works for Backer’s company DB Capitol Strategies–was named as treasurer. The group was dissolved in February, 2014.
In Defense of Free Speech JFC did one thing in its short life: gave $13,450 each to Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.
Where did the money for the In Defense of Free Speech JFCcome group set up by Dan Backer come from?
- $40,000 came from The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund – Dan Backer, Treasurer
- $5000 came from Shaun McCutcheon, a client of Dan Backer’s
- $5000 came from a group called E Pluribus Unum PAC – Dan Backer, Treasurer. The group’s only purpose appears to have been to give $5000 to the In Defense of Free Speech JFC
- $5000 came from a man Richard Campbell — who was also the sole donor for the E Pluribus Unum PAC set up by Dan Backer
Ironically, Dan Backer was the treasurer for Cornyn’s primary opponent, Rep. Steve Stockman, who got $2,500 from The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund.
This means that John Cornyn’s $10,000 take was four times what Stockman.
Just follow the arrows on this flowchart I mad.
Think twice before you sign the next petition you see.
You’re seen the ads and websites to draft political candidates. They bear a photo of the political personality or maybe even a whole website.
Here’s one example : DraftNext2014.com — it’s a website for the Draft Newt PAC; the treasurer is an attorney named Dan Backer, who has a company called DB Strategies. Backer is the treasurer for over 30 different PACs, groups and candidates, including the very larger group The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund and the recent campaign of Rep. Steve Stockman.
Here’s the idea : create a ‘Draft Somebody’ and get people to ‘sign the petition’ in order to build a list and get donations. And it works.
This was done without the consent of Newt Gingrich. In fact, he his lawyers sent the group a Cease and Desist:
“He is not running for United States Senate and will not run for Senate at any time in the future,” McKenna Long & Aldridge attorney Stefan Passantino wrote to the group last week.
“We hereby demand that you cease and desist from the unauthorized use of Speaker Gingrich’s name or likeness and that you further cease and desist from any activity implying or insinuating that your group is in any way authorized by, or affiliated with, Speaker Gingrich or his organizations,” Passantino wrote.
Attorney Dan Backer, who is serving as the treasurer for Draft Newt, said that he has received Passantino’s letter — and that he forwarded the 8,400 signatures that Draft Newt had received.
He added that the Draft Newt PAC has now collected more than 10,000 signatures encouraging the former House Speaker to run for Senate.
They didn’t cease or desist. The group still exists. The website is still live. Draft Newt PAC isn’t huge but it did raise over $20,000 in 2013.
Where did the money go? Well, not to Newt, that’s for sure. Most of it went to fundraising and administration. Dan Backer’s company got $3,000 of the $20,000.
Not ALL of it — $125 of the $20,000+ raised went to candidates. Five donations of $25 whole American dollars each. And look — Rep. Steve Stockman is one of those who took in the $25 donations.