Roger Stone Is Raking It In—From Candidates He Endorses

Less than a year after receiving a presidential pardon, Roger Stone is staging a comeback, doling out political endorsements to a spate of right-wing longshots and raking in cash.

Stone—a longtime political stuntman, Donald Trump confidant, and adviser to right-wing figures—put his lucrative campaign consulting work on ice for years while the Russia investigation netted his prosecution and conviction on obstruction charges. But a year after Trump’s pardon, Stone has plunged back into the scene, boosting newcomer politicians eager for an endorsement from the far right’s favorite martini-swashing popinjay.

Coincidentally—or, perhaps, not coincidentally—Stone is also smack in the middle of a multimillion-dollar tax evasion lawsuit.

The pardoned felon has not collected federal political consulting fees since 2016, but according to a recent round of federal election filings, he banked at least $105,000 last year—$85,000 of it in the last four months.

In December, Stone added another name to his client list, signing on as the official campaign manager for a right-wing talk show host in New Jersey. But the timing—and the company Stone is using—are curious.

The firm, Drake Ventures, is currently at the center of a Justice Department lawsuit against Stone and his wife. The suit alleges the couple used the company to shield money from government collectors as part of a multimillion-dollar federal tax evasion scheme.

And while the Federal Election Commission is still processing filing data, The Daily Beast has identified two candidates whom Stone has endorsed—and who paid his company around the same time.

The first is Jackson Lahmeyer, an Oklahoma Republican running to the right of incumbent James Lankford in that state’s Senate primary.

The Lahmeyer campaign has so far paid Drake Ventures $60,000, split evenly in three monthly installments, beginning on Oct. 4. Seven weeks later, Stone endorsed the right-wing pastor, without disclosing the $40,000 he had already received from the campaign. The Lahmeyer website currently touts Stone’s endorsement, but does not disclose the fact that the campaign has paid his consulting firm tens of thousands of dollars.

In explaining his endorsement, Stone said he was “not someone who gives away his endorsement frivolously,” and that he would not have backed Lahmeyer if he didn’t believe the pastor was “someone of exceptional courage and integrity.”

Tulsa station KWGS reported that, according to Stone’s account, Lahmeyer came into his orbit via another Trump-pardoned convicted criminal: Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who has appeared with Lahmeyer and Stone on a QAnon-adjacent nationwide tour.

Ten days before endorsing Lahmeyer, Stone threw his weight behind Florida GOP congressional candidate Martin Hyde. But Stone and Hyde disclosed their financial relationship at the time. The Miami Herald, which broke the news, reported on Nov. 12 that Hyde hired Stone at the cost of $10,000 a month.

However, new filings reveal an unreported detail about the timing of that first payment from Hyde—it came the day before Stone endorsed him.

Records also show that the amount wasn’t $10,000, but $15,000. And Flynn ended up endorsing Hyde the same day as Stone, though there are no payments from Hyde to Flynn.

Flynn, who played a more visible role than Stone during the 2020 election, has also upped his involvement in 2021, while trying to distance himself from his affiliation with the QAnon conspiracy theory. Like Stone, Flynn has also pocketed some cash along the way.

Last October, Flynn endorsed GOP New Hampshire Senate aspirant Don Bolduc while headlining a Bolduc fundraiser. Federal filings show that a week later, the campaign paid Flynn’s company, Resilient Patriot LLC, a $5,209 “event speaking fee.”

In the first six months of the year, Flynn racked up $35,000 in speaking and consulting fees. And he pulled another $2,832 in August, when he spoke at an event for Virginia Republican congressional candidate Jarome Bell. Flynn endorsed Bell when he announced he would appear at the event.

Stone and Flynn have also both endorsed GOP congressional hopeful—and election denierAnthony Sabatini in Florida. Additionally, in November, Flynn endorsed hard-right North Carolina congressional candidate Sandy Smith, and Stone joined him in January.

Last week, Axios reported on an emerging pattern of candidates paying sizable fees to people who endorse them. In one example, the report cites Arizona Republican Jim Lamon’s Senate campaign, which last October paid GOP operative Matt Schlapp’s firm $20,000 in consulting fees. Schlapp then endorsed Lamon weeks later—and cashed another $20,000 payment after that.

For Stone, the season is timely. While he slapped his seal of approval on Hyde and Lahmeyer—and cashed their checks—he was also taking on new financial pressures.

At the time, the Stones’ attorneys were preparing to submit their response to the DOJ’s initial complaint in the tax evasion lawsuit, which the couple had successfully delayed for about half a year while his wife Nydia underwent treatment for what Stone says is stage 4 cancer.

Federal prosecutors say the couple owes some $2 million in unpaid taxes, going back a decade. And Stone’s firm, Drake Ventures, is at the heart of the alleged scheme, including allegedly using the entity to disguise personal and taxable income.

“The Stones used Drake Ventures for an improper purpose and harm to the United States,” the complaint says, noting that Roger Stone accepted personal payments through the company’s account.

The couple also routed “a substantial amount of their personal expenses, including groceries, dentist bills, spas, salons, clothing and restaurant expenses,” through Drake Ventures, the complaint says, while using company accounts to pay down more than half a million dollars in personal tax liabilities. According to prosecutors, the company is also at the heart of a complex and allegedly fraudulent real estate deal designed to put assets beyond the reach of government collectors.

Asked for comment, Grant Smith, an attorney for the Stones, explained that “Drake Ventures is and has always been Mr. Stone’s principal business vehicle for decades and the government’s assertion that it has been used solely for payments to the Stones personally is factually and simply incorrect.”

Smith added that “Mr. Stone has not ‘revived’ Drake Ventures, LLC because it has never been inactive.”

In addressing the consulting payments in advance of endorsements, and Stone’s failure to disclose the financial relationship with Lahmeyer, the attorney said that Stone “has worked as a political strategist for over 30 years. He does provide strategic consulting services to his various clients. He most certainly endorses those that he is working for.”

The Stones ended up filing their response denying the allegations on Nov. 22—the same day Stone announced he was backing Lahmeyer. It was the same day Stone took fire on another legal front, as House investigators subpoenaed him regarding his role in events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

But in the middle of all of this, Stone has found time to take on another client—and in an official capacity.

In late December, Stone became campaign manager for Mike Crispi, a right-wing talk show host challenging 21-term incumbent congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) from the Trump right. Stone had appeared on Crispi’s show a few weeks prior.

Still, it’s unclear exactly what a Roger Stone endorsement will get you—or how long it will last.

When news broke last March that the DOJ had been investigating MAGA ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) for allegedly sex trafficking a minor, Stone swooped in to defend his friend. Gaetz paid Drake Ventures $20,000 in $5,000 installments beginning in late March, for “strategic campaign consulting.”

But last month, Stone made it clear that money does not buy his unconditional loyalty, posting “Bye Matt!” after reports surfaced that Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend had testified before the grand jury under an immunity deal.

Source

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