September 25, 2022

MyPillow CEO Covered Some Travel Expenses For Kristi Noem’s PAC

Welcome to the Checks & Imbalances newsletter. Today we revisit South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s travel. And we once again check in on the many, many Republicans running for Congress whose campaign trail goes through Mar-a-Lago.


South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s (R) PAC, Noem Victory Fund, recently reported receiving an in-kind contribution of $2,850 worth of travel from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell on Oct. 14. Lindell has been one of the leading supporters of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

In May, Noem caught a ride on Lindell’s private jet, to a Republican Governors Association meeting, Politico reported at the time. It’s not clear how she characterized that trip, but no in-kind donation from Lindell appears on either her campaign’s or PAC’s financial disclosures covering that period.

“Governor Noem’s campaign finance reports are accurate, and as a longstanding rule we do not disclose additional information beyond what is legally required,” said Joe Desilets, Noem’s campaign manager. “There is no listed in-kind contribution from May of last year because nothing was in-kind contributed to the Governor’s committees from that RGA meeting.”

A spokesperson for Lindell did not respond to an inquiry.

Previously: “Arkansas GOP Paid $15,000 For Kristi Noem’s Flight To A Fundraiser


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In Case You Missed It


Trump’s Truth Social Still Plagued With Glitches Despite March 31 Goal To Be ‘Fully Operational’

“Former President Donald Trump’s new Truth Social platform appears to have whiffed on a self-imposed March 31 deadline to be ‘fully operational,’” reports Nicholas Reimann for Forbes:

Trump Media & Technology Group (TMGT) CEO Devin Nunes
said just before the app’s Presidents’ Day launch it would have a slow rollout, but he expected it would be fully operational in the U.S. by the end of March.

Top right-wing figures like Sean Hannity, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump Jr. were able to
quickly join the platform after its launch, but the waiting list for the public to sign up has grown to more than 1.3 million.


Continuing Irresolutions

Updates on Checks & Imbalances’ previous reporting

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) resigned from Congress at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. Vela vacated his seat with nine months left in his term to join Akin Gump. By 9 a.m. the following morning, the law firm known for its lobbying had already issued a press release and headshot announcing Vela’s hiring.

*****

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s (R-Neb.) resignation from Congress took effect on Thursday, as planned. Earlier last month, a jury convicted him of lying to the FBI about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national. On Friday, the House Committee on Ethics announced it closed its investigation into Fortenberry, as the panel no longer has jurisdiction over him. Fortenberry’s campaign reported spending $158,000 on legal fees last year. He also launched a legal expense trust in August.


Florida Gov. DeSantis Wants To Punish Disney—But Won’t Go After Its Corporate Tax Breaks

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) continued to go after Disney on Friday over its opposition to the state’s Parental Rights In Education Act (known to critics as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law), saying he’s ‘receptive’ to the state legislature revoking special privileges the company’s received,” reports Alison Durkee for Forbes:

DeSantis was
asked at a press conference Friday about corporate tax breaks Disney receives from the state, including what the Orlando Sentinel
reports could be up to $570 million in tax breaks for a new office complex the company is opening, as well as corporate tax refunds that the state is
set to issue to companies in May.

DeSantis said that while he’s in favor of the state taking away privileges that are unique to Disney, those tax breaks are ones “that any business would be eligible for,” and insisted there are “no special tax breaks that are Disney-specific that we would contemplate” taking away.


Tracking Trump

John Gibbs, a GOP candidate for Congress in Michigan, held a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday. Former President Trump and ex-HUD Secretary Ben Carson spoke at the event.

At least four other Republicans running for the House were at the president’s private club that night too: Darius Mayfield of New Jersey, Ohio’s J.R. Majewski, Courtney Geels from North Carolina and Cait Corrigan of New York. Trump endorsed Gibbs in November. It does not appear that he’s publicly backed any of the other four candidates.

A former Trump White House staffer now running for Congress in Ohio, Max Miller, was at Mar-a-Lago again this week, according to posts on social media. In December, the House Committee on January 6 subpoenaed records and testimony from Miller, stating he “met with the former President in his private dining room off the Oval Office on January 4th, 2021 to discuss the January 6th Ellipse rally.”

Darlene Swaffar, a QAnon-promoting Republican running for Congress in Florida, held a $1,000-per-person fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday. While the invitation plugged former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn as a featured guest, there don’t seem to be any photos of him there. Spokespeople for Swaffar and Flynn did not respond to inquiries.

Trump’s former Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland reportedly had a “wonderful conversation” with a candidate for state rep in Florida at Mar-a-Lago.

A Mar-a-Lago guest claimed she spoke with Trump about QAnon.

  • “She Took the White House Photos. Trump Moved to Take the Profit.” (The New York Times)
  • “‘That is not an official CIA account’: Trump’s social media platform is filled with fake government profiles” (The Daily Dot)
  • “Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and Donald Trump meet at Mar-a-Lago to ‘talk politics,’ ex-aide says” (WIZM)

Editor’s Picks

  • “Inside Hunter Biden’s multimillion-dollar deals with a Chinese energy company” (The Washington Post)
  • “Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok” (The Washington Post)
  • “Business, Highway Lobbies Fight Gas-Tax Holidays” (The Wall Street Journal)
  • “Federal campaign watchdog fines DNC, Clinton campaign over dossier spending disclosure” (Politico)
  • “Secretive Christian group at heart of D.C. politics ready for its close-up in Netflix docuseries” (NBC News)
  • “Over $215K was raised at tonight’s fundraiser for Liz Cheney primary challenger Harriet Hageman, per person familiar. Kevin McCarthy and More than 100 House Republicans hosted the event, held at the home of McCarthy lieutenant Jeff Miller.” (Twitter/Alex Isenstadt of Politico)
  • “Crypto industry dives into the midterms, raising millions to court Democrats” (The Washington Post)
  • “Legal spending significantly increases at PAC run by Mark Meadows’ wife” (The Raleigh News & Observer)
  • “Jen Psaki planning to leave White House this spring for MSNBC gig” (Axios)
  • “CMD has learned that the dark money group the Honest Elections Project and the Heritage Foundation will hold a Secretaries of State Conference in DC on April 12-13, 2022. CMD has obtained a ‘Save the Date’ for the event.” (Twitter/David Armiak of the Center for Media and Democracy)
  • “Feds Slap Disgraced Rep. Duncan Hunter With Measly Fine After Trump Pardon” (The Daily Beast)
  • “OUT AND ABOUT — SPOTTED at Platinum Advisors’ welcome party for Billy Tranghese at Sonoma on Wednesday night: Reps. Richie Neal (D-Mass.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Erik Huey, Joe Crowley, Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall…” (Politico)
  • “Trump-tied Bush scheduler heads back to Sen. Portman” (LegiStorm)
  • “Democratic adviser heads to amusement-park trade group” (LegiStorm)
  • “Republican Rep. Diana Harshbarger bought and sold defense contractor stocks in the days after Russia invaded Ukraine” (Insider)
  • “Michigan AG hopeful Tom Leonard’s fundraising draws fairness concerns” (Bridge Michigan)
  • “Oh look who’s the introductory speaker at the Koch-backed small biz group’s Tax Summit: Kyrsten Sinema.” (Twitter/Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica)
  • “Intuit spends millions lobbying amid accusations of deceptive TurboTax advertising” (OpenSecrets)
  • “How IFA brought down Biden’s labor nominee” (Politico)
  • “Bitcoin Makes QAnon Candidate’s Fundraising Even Sadder” (The Daily Beast)
  • “Michigan House candidate Mellissa Carone has been disqualified from the Macomb County ballot after she submitted a faulty affidavit attesting that she had no outstanding campaign finance issues.” (The Detroit News)

In Closing

“I wish that I could fly

Into the sky

So very high

Just like a dragonfly

I’d fly above the trees

Over the seas in all degrees

To anywhere I please, oh”

— Lenny Kravitz, “I Want To Fly Away”