Posts by: Danielle

Jena Powell, a Republican candidate for Ohio House of Representatives District 80, has political and familial ties to an organization that may have enabled former Rep. Wes Goodman’s duplicitous lifestyle.  The Forge, a Dayton, Ohio based conservative leadership academy caters to 16-24 young conservatives who are interested in entering politics. Powell’s brother, Justin, co-founded the organization with Adam Josefczyk in late 2014. It touts Ms. Powell’s primary victory in HD 80 as a success for the organization and uses her image and story in its promotional materials. Goodman is the “pro-family” representative from District 87, who resigned in […]

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In March 2017, one Democrat and one Republican introduced H.B. 123, a bill intended to close loopholes in a 2008 law that regulated payday lenders in Ohio. The bill, which languished in committee for over a year, was finally voted out of committee this April.

The media has dutifully stenographed each new twist in the bill’s progress and a prevailing narrative has emerged: there was some kind of dramatic schism within the payday lobby. Now they have divided into two camps: one that welcomes modest payday loan regulation and one that is dead set against it. Their impasse, […]

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This is the second part of “The Ohio Dark Money Blows Its Cover” series.

A recent lawsuit appears to have disclosed the identities of some of the Washington power brokers behind the dark money that has flooded Ohio elections since Citizens United. The lawsuit, brought by Larry Householder, accuses several defendants of making false and defamatory statements through the medium of political attack ads. The lawsuit names Conservative Alliance PAC, GRP Buying, that company’s owner Nick Everhart as defendants; it also names several individuals associated with the American Conservative Union (ACU). These ACU-affiliated individuals have denied involvement with the […]

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As part of the Ohio GOP’s ongoing civil war and the attendant primary mudslinging, some candidates have turned to lawsuits to stop their rivals from airing attack ads.

One such lawsuit, brought by Larry Householder,  has (accidentally!) pierced Ohio Dark Money’s carefully tended veil of secrecy. The lawsuit revealed the identities of the Washington power brokers pumping money into Ohio’s elections. The revealed persons are all top brass at the American Conservative Union (ACU), with strong ties to the Trump Administration and the NRA at highest echelons. Furthermore, some of the people involved are mixed up in the years-long […]

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Newly filed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) documents reveal links between a newly created SuperPAC called Conservative Alliance PAC and the same Ohio Dark Money players behind Rob Portman’s 2016 single-candidate SuperPAC, Fighting for Ohio PAC. Conservative Alliance PAC is running attack ads in the Ohio Primaries, which go after Republican primary challengers who are allied with former Ohio Speaker, Larry Householder. The mailers and radio spots attempt to tie the candidates to a corruption scandal that swirled around Householder and his aides in the early 2000s.

In a Shakespearean twist, the same aide who emerged most tarnished from that […]

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This is the second part of this story which originally ran on March 28, 2018.

Up to this point, the only person who meaningfully connects the American mafia to the Trump-Russia affair is Donald Trump, himself. Trump’s connections to the New York-based predominately Italian-American mafia are well-documented. On the Ukrainian side, there are rumors of Russian mafia or Bratva (“brotherhood”) connections to the Trump-Russia affair, such as a diplomatic cable that claimed Dmytro Firtash – 45% owner of RosUkrEnergo – was in business with Semyon Mogilevich, one of the FBI’s most wanted crime lords.

Yet there may be another […]

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From Russia with Lust

On March 28, 2018 By

A Cleveland-born lobbyist who is implicated in the Paul Manafort indictments has had a long-term cozy relationship with Ohio Republicans and even served on John Kasich’s 2016 Presidential Steering Committee. Ed Kutler was a senior lobbyist at powerhouse DC Public Affairs firm, Mercury, until he departed in 2017 to found his own shop. According to their own Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings and numerous press reports, Mercury is “Company A” in the Manafort indictment. Kutler also has extensive family connections to the somewhat forgotten pornography empire of Cleveland’s own Reuben Sturman and La Cosa Nostra.

It is […]

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This is the second part of this story which originally ran on February 10, 2018.

The Clark Fork Group, LLC was incorporated in Ohio in June, 2015, at a private residence in Dublin, so Ayers must have consulted after that date and before becoming Pence’s COS in July 2017. Curiously, on the disclosure form Ayers lists Clark Fork Group’s address as being in Thompson Falls, MT. Clark Fork is a river in Montana, but Plunderbund could find no record of a similarly named LLC ever being incorporated there. In its most recent Kentucky filings, American Policy Coalition also […]

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Americans United for Values

In the early fall of 2016, a Super PAC called Americans United for Values (AUV) paid for a 25 billboard campaign in the Cincinnati market. The billboards show the silhouette of a woman, highly evocative of Hillary Clinton, in a shrugging pose. The words “what difference does it make?” hover beside her and below that, four American-flag draped caskets are stacked.

Brian Kinnett, a Grove City pastor and treasurer of the Super PAC, took credit for the billboards in the press. He gave a contemporaneous statement to the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative online news […]

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The word Plexus refers to a “complex structure containing an intricate network of parts.”  That’s a pretty apt description for the loose web of Republican-affiliated secret donors, nonprofit groups and Super PACS that are injecting millions of untraceable dollars into campaigns in Ohio and beyond. The Ohio Dark Money Plexus (ODMP) serves as one of the foremost conduits for dead end disclosure, a way to mask the identity of a political donor by passing their money through a progression of shell entities.

One pattern is for an individual donor to first transfer funds to a Limited Liability Company (LLC).  […]

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