A look back at Roger Stone’s ‘big league scam’ super PAC
Indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller and arrested by the FBI in the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning, notorious political operative Roger Stone may be facing the end of a decades-long political career. Stone denied the charges and said he will plead not guilty.
One of the more unusual chapters in his recent political history was the short-lived Committee to Restore America’s Greatness super PAC. Despite being a single-candidate super PAC in support of Donald Trump, the group shelled out just $16,000 of its $587,000 fundraising haul on independent expenditures supporting Trump.
The lack of pro-Trump spending is unsurprising, as Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told The Hill the super PAC was a “big league scam” shortly after it was launched in December 2015.
Still, despite being fired from the Trump campaign in August 2015, Stone was able to use the super PAC to raise substantial funds before terminating it in January 2017. He used a significant portion of those funds to pay for legal fees and travel, along with mysterious payments that have come under scrutiny from Mueller.
The PAC sent a total of $137,000 to a Florida company called Citroen Associates primarily for “voter fraud research and documentation.” The owner of the firm, John Kakanis, was reportedly subpoenaed by Mueller in May 2018.
Jason Sullivan, a social media specialist and Stone friend who worked for the super PAC, received $3,000 for “consulting” from the PAC. Sullivan testified in front of the Mueller investigation’s federal grand jury in June 2018.
Stone aide Andrew Miller, who was paid $9,000 by the PAC, was also subpoenaed by Mueller but refused to testify, instead being held in contempt of court. Miller’s attorney Alicia Dearn said he wanted “some grant of immunity” to discuss financial transactions involving political action committees related to Stone.
The bulk of legal and accounting fees — $141,611 — went to Jensen & Associates, a personal injury law firm based in Orange County, California. The head of the firm, Paul Rolf Jensen, is a friend of Stone’s and represented him during Stone’s role in revealing the call-girl scandal that led to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s resignation in 2008. Jensen also represented a U.S. Army doctor who was an Obama birther and faced a court martial for disobeying orders.
Also receiving money for legal fees — $3,500 — was the Law Offices of Michael Becker, a criminal defense attorney based in Florida. Becker’s website notes that his services include “White Collar & Corporate Business Crime,” “Money Laundering & Racketeering” and “International Criminal Law.”
On July 19, 2016, the super PAC paid $689.08 for t-shirts from the Miami Shirt Company. According to an employee of the company, the shirts the super PAC ordered were photos of Bill Clinton done in the style of the Shepard Fairey Obama “Hope” posters, but with the word “Rape” under Clinton’s image, along with shirts with Hillary Clinton’s photo done in the same style with the word “Crooked.” Stone was photographed wearing one of the Bill Clinton shirts outside the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016.
The super PAC was registered to a P.O. box in a UPS Store sandwiched in between a threading salon and “Eternity Nails & Spa” in Santa Ana, California.
The largest contributor to the super PAC was John Powers Middleton who contributed $376,000 between himself and his JPM Companies, “a diversified investment company.” John Powers Middleton is a movie and television producer who has worked on a number of critically-acclaimed and Academy Award-nominated films including Manchester by the Sea, The Lego Movie and The Disaster Artist. His bio lists that he was the national co-chair of the RNC’s Young Eagles program and fundraised for Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. Middleton did not respond to a request for comment.
Robert Shillman, founder of the technology company Cognex, donated a total of $16,000. Shillman is one of the donors behind Project Veritas and reportedly helped finance British far-right activist Tommy Robinson.
It’s unclear how much of the super PAC’s spending actually went toward political activity.
Along with the super PAC, Stone also created a controversial 527 advocacy group titled Stop the Steal, meant to protest the Republican National Convention over what Stone said was an attempt from “anti-Trump quislings” to steal the nomination from Trump.
Stone’s super PAC gave Stop the Steal $50,000 in April 2016, then took $63,000 from Stop the Steal just before the convention in July. Stop the Steal hired “Vote Protectors” to oversee the November 2016 elections, drawing Democratic lawsuits in multiple states alleging the group aimed to intimidate minority voters.
Stop the Steal paid $3,500 to Kristin Davis in 2016 and an additional $3,500 in 2017. Davis is a longtime friend of Stone known as the “Manhattan Madam” who also testified before a Mueller grand jury. Stop the Steal also paid $5,000 to Stone’s aide Andrew Miller.
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