Back in 2016, when it became clear that Donald Trump might just be the 2016 GOP presidential nominee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned that nominating Trump would be catastrophic for Republicans, posting his warning on Twitter.
Trump did indeed win the nomination and then went on to win the 2016 election, defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and Graham suddenly became one of the Donald’s staunchest defenders.
So what happened? Why did Graham do a 180 so quickly? Could it have been blackmail?
That question was poised to former Republican operative Tim Miller by Ron Filpkowski this week when Filipkowski asked what member of the GOP had most disappointed Miller in recent years.
Miller named Graham, noting that the senator had been a “hoot” to have on the 2016 campaign trail. At the time, Graham was supporting Jeb Bush and making appearances on the former Florida governor’s behalf:
That led Filpkowski to ask Miller if he thought perhaps Graham had become an ardent Trumper because Trump had blackmailed him.
Others, however, disagree, and Jon Cooper of the Democratic Coalition said in 2019 that a Republican told him Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin did indeed have dirt on Graham and it was sexual in nature:
North Carolina GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn’s life is in complete shambles, and it’s hard to feel sorry for him considering the bad shit he’s done over the past couple of years.
First and foremost, Cawthorn is broke and cannot pay his campaign debts, which, it just so happened, he incurred for illegal purposes, meaning that in addition to soon being unemployed, he’s also facing indictment and time in prison if found guilty.
Roger Sollenberger of The Daily Beast reports that everything that can go wrong for Cawthorn is doing exactly that
With two weeks to go until a primary election he was fated to lose, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) was already underwater. His campaign held more than twice as much debt as it had cash on hand, the donor well was dry, and he and his staff were months into a madcap spending streak that one campaign source called “baffling.”
And now, after indeed losing that primary, there’s no money to pay the piper.
Specifically, there’s no money to repay the supporters who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in advance to Cawthorn’s election efforts beyond the primary—to the general election he now won’t be competing in.
That shuffling of money is illegal, and that complicates matters considerably for the soon-to-be ex-congressman, who is going to be hard-pressed to find an attorney who will represent him without a retainer:
The breach of fiduciary obligations follows a string of personal and professional embarrassments that hounded the one-term congressman across the weeks and months leading up to his primary defeat—accusations of insider trading, multiple alleged ethics violations, unforced public gaffes, and photo and video leaks designed to humiliate him.
But the campaign’s financial washout is more than another embarrassment; it’s against the law.
To borrow a phrase from Homer Simpson, D’oh!
But perhaps most confounding and embarrassing for Cawthorn is the spending reports which show how he managed to burn through so much cash so quickly. The details in federal reports sound like something a college frat boy would have done:
This person pointed to a spree of frivolous charges over the last year that all accelerated into 2022, such as $1,500 in “egregiously” frequent trips to Chick-Fil-A, almost $3,000 at a place called Papa’s Beer, three separate charges at a high-end cigar shop, $21,000 for lodging in Florida and—the biggest drain—hundreds of thousands of dollars in sky-high consulting and fundraising fees, including for Cawthorn’s friend and campaign manager, Blake Harp, who was drawing a salary beyond federal limits.
Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, says Cawthorn is screwed:
Beginning in January of next year, Cawthorn will no longer have his congressional salary, so he’s quite literally going to be jobless, penniless, and facing the prospect of legal action against him.
As Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL) prepares to steer a course for his reelection effort in November, an ominous new court filing in the Sunshine State is certain to have him and his attorneys very worried, as the lead witness against him is making it clear that he is naming names and not leaving anyone out of the rapidly expanding sex trafficking scandal that threatens to send Gaetz to federal prison for the rest of his life.
According to Newsweek, the filing suggests that federal investigators are determined to get to the bottom of not only any alleged crimes Gaetz may have committed, but also those of anyone even remotely associated with him:
Joel Greenberg, an associate of Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, has highlighted his cooperation with numerous investigations ahead of his sentencing for child sex trafficking crimes being set.
Greenberg is facing 12 years in jail after he pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a child, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official.
Prior to his sentencing date, Greenberg’s lawyer filed a motion on Tuesday asking a judge for permission to submit additional information to the court under seal related to his cooperation in other criminal investigations.
Of special concern to Gaetz and others in his orbit is this line from Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller:
The “other jurisdictions” reference is certain to send a chill up the spine of Gaetz and anyone who has been associated with him over the past few years because it suggests the investigation could wind up ensnaring other members of Congress who have even tangential ties to Gaetz.
Greenberg alleges that he and Gaetz had sex with multiple underage girls who were then given cash or gifts in exchange. Since they also allegedly took those girls across state lines, they committed the federal crime of sexually trafficking minors. The penalty for that offense can be as severe as life imprisonment.
Even though she regularly rails against Democrats for spending too much money on things such as making sure children have enough to eat and there’s an adequate supply of COVID vaccines, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has been caught living large at the expense of those who contribute to her reelection campaign.
The Peach Pundit reports that FEC filings show Greene used $92,000 in campaign funds to purchase herself a fancy new SUV:
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene used donors’ campaign contributions to buy herself a luxury vehicle worth over $92,000, FEC records show.
The expenditure will prove controversial as the May 24 primary approaches, not just because of the expensive, swanky nature of the vehicle, but because Greene’s second biggest source of donations is retired Americans—meaning she effectively raided donors’ Social Security checks to buy a tricked-out vehicle from a Buick/GMC dealership.
Maybe you’re wondering what sort of vehicle costs $92,000, and it appears to be a top-of-the line vehicle:
Playing around on the GMC website, it looks like she ordered a 2022 GMC Yukon XL SUV with just about every available amenity and add-on.
That is one sweet ride. And Greene treated herself with the money sent in by retirees who are living on fixed incomes, because records show the second-largest group of contributors to her campaign are retired Americans.
Can you afford to drive a $92,000 luxury SUV? If you can’t, then maybe you need to take a page from Marjorie Taylor Greene, run for public office, and rake in those campaign donations. Pretty soon you’ll have enough money to fill your garage with great rides and maybe even have some left over to arrange a few spa days.
Shortly after he graduated from college and prior to attending law school, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took a job as a history teacher at the Darlington School in Rome, Georgia. His hiring was announced in a 2001 newsletter published by the school:
Ron DeSantis is joining the Upper School history department. DeSantis earned bachelor’s degrees in history and political science from Yale University, New Haven, Conn. While at Yale, he worked for the political science department, the athletic department, and the university sports camp. He has work experience with the Sonic Corporation and the office of Senator Connie Mack.
But it turns out that DeSantis was more than just a teacher while at Darlington, according to Hill Reporter:
His students would have been high school co-eds, teenagers, some of whom would have been living on-campus. According to our whistleblower, he had a reputation among students for being a young “hot teacher” who girls loved, and the girls in the photo are believed to have graduated in 2002, making them seniors at the time.
The photo shows a person purported to be DeSantis, in a group embrace with several young girls, one of whom is holding what appears to be a glass beer bottle. The source who provided the photo says that it was taken prior to graduation — meaning the young girls would still have been DeSantis’ responsibility at the time. It is not clear whether any of them were legal adults, though they would have been too young to purchase alcohol.
Of course, DeSantis isn’t the only Florida politician who seems to have an affinity for young girls. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is current the subject of a wide-ranging federal investigation that reportedly involves the congressman taking underage girls across state lines and paying them, which is sexual trafficking of a minor. And that investigation could also wind up ensnaring the governor, who is up for reelection next year:
Still, the investigation may be moving uncomfortably close to the governor’s office. Besides Gaetz himself, the influential Florida political figures under federal scrutiny include Jason Pirozzolo, a hand surgeon and DeSantis campaign donor, and DeSantis’ political appointee Halsey Beshears, the state’s former top business regulator.
DeSantis has yet to respond to the photo or other revelations from Hill Reporter.