Author: Don Obrien

Herschel Walker builds a campaign team with deep financial ties to Marjorie Taylor Greene, Donald Trump • OpenSecrets

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Former National Football League star Herschel Walker announced Tuesday he’d run for Georgia Senate to unseat freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.). Walker already has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, but his Senate campaign team also has deep financial ties to the former president and controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).  

Walker’s team has already formed a super PAC called Third Down Georgia, which registered with the Federal Election Commission in May and raised $27,102 through the second quarter.

The super PAC is incorporated under the Georgia Secretary of State’s office and lists its registered agent as Jason Boles, the treasurer of Walker’s principal campaign committee and a designated agent and custodian of records for Greene’s principal campaign committee. Boles is also the treasurer and custodian of records for Greene’s joint fundraising committee.

Greene, a first-term Georgia representative who is a loyal Trump ally and a supporter of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, was stripped of her committee assignments in February after several anti-Semitic comments she made, as well as speeches in which she encouraged violence against elected Democrats, became public.

The conservative congresswoman has also promoted other conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. She has propagated Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and has compared mask mandates to the Holocaust.

Greene has capitalized on the controversy. She has raised $4.7 million ahead of the 2022 election cycle — $3.2 million of which came during the first quarter of 2021 in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. And much of Greene’s fundraising has come from small-dollar donors. In the first quarter of 2021, $2.6 million of Greene’s total contributions came from donors who gave $200 or less. In the second quarter of the year, Greene raised about $1.6 million, $967,045 of which came from small-dollar donors. 

Boles also serves as the treasurer of Stop Socialism NOW, a super PAC which spent tens of thousands of dollars in independent expenditures supporting the two Republican candidates in the 2020 Senate races in Georgia, former Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

The super PAC was involved in a complaint filed against Greene with the Federal Election Commission in May. The nonprofit watchdog Common Cause alleged that Greene’s appearance in a Stop Socialism NOW video ad constituted an illegal solicitation of soft-money donations to the super PAC. 

Federal law stipulates candidates cannot solicit donations greater than $5,000 on behalf of super PACs, and Common Cause argued that her performance in the ad was an “implicit” solicitation of funds.  

Boles’ political connections to conservative actors go far beyond Greene. North Carolina Policy Watch reported Boles is involved in 57 different political organizations and businesses across Georgia, and that he may have helped finance a right-wing infiltration of progressive political groups in North Carolina. 

The organizations that Boles is tied to include casino gambling advocacy groups, and various Republican state campaign committees and PACs.

Another designated agent listed on Walker’s campaign filing is Stefan Passantino, a former White House deputy counsel to Trump who oversaw ethics compliance issues. 

When Passantino left his position in 2018, he co-founded Elections LLC., a company that received $1.1 million from various Republican political organizations, according to expenditure data compiled by OpenSecrets. 

Trump’s 2020 reelection committee gave the largest chunk of that sum. Between April 2019 and December 2020, the committee paid Elections LLC. a total of $700,369 over 22 installments for legal consulting.

The final three payments, which totaled over $140,000 between Nov. 12 and Dec. 7, 2020, were made for legal consultation on Trump’s election recount efforts. Passantino was an attorney listed in a Trump campaign lawsuit that alleged election workers in Chatham County, Ga. mishandled 53 absentee ballots. The suit was later dismissed by a judge.

Passantino and Elections LLC. was also hired by Greene’s campaign, OpenSecrets previously reported. Greene’s campaign committee paid the company $93,564 over 20 installments, the last two of which came in January this year.  

Warnock’s campaign is well prepared financially for a race that could determine which party controls the Senate in the second half of President Joe Biden’s term. So far, he has raised the most of any candidate running in the 2022 midterms, taking in $32.1 million as of the end of the second quarter. 

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Oliver Bolt

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