Welcome to the Checks & Imbalances newsletter. Today we look at the congressional campaign of Ron Watkins, who is suspected to be behind the QAnon conspiracy. Let’s dive into it.
Jhe campaigns for Ron Watkins, a Republican congressional candidate in Arizona who is suspected of writing message board posts that fueled the fake QAnon conspiracy, originally withheld 40% of the contributions he he received in the last three months of 2021, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
In a campaign finance report submitted in January 2022, Ron Watkins for Congress told the FEC that he had received $30,600 in contributions during the last three months of 2021. Last week, the campaign changed its file to disclose that she had in fact received $51,000 over this period. .
On Monday, the FEC asked the campaign to explain why the contributions were omitted from the original report. A response is expected by May 2.
“Such a large discrepancy is highly unusual,” said Brett Kappel, campaign finance attorney at Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg. “That would still result in a letter from the FEC asking for an explanation for underreporting such a high percentage of incoming contributions. That said, the FEC is more lenient with first-time applicants.
Campaign spokespersons did not respond to inquiries.
The campaign received a $2,400 donation described as “t-shirts” from Jim Watkins, Ron’s father who owns and operates the 8chan and 8kun message boards from where the Qanon conspiracy spread. Other Watkins campaign supporters listed their occupations as a doctor, accountant, freelance geologist and mechanic for DC Metro. Other than Jim Watkins, none of the campaign’s other donors are notable in the QAnon community, according to Travis View, the pseudonymous co-host of the “QAnon Anonymous” podcast, which reports on the plot.
Only three of the 39 donors identified by the campaign are from Arizona.
Watkins seemed to admit he was behind the vast Qanon conspiracy in HBO’s 2021 docuseries Q: In the storm. Forensic linguists also found evidence that Watkins was posting as Q, the New York Times reported last month. Watkins denied the claim.
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This is the Tuesday 29th March edition of the Checks & Imbalances newsletter, usually sent out on Mondays and Thursdays. It’s free. To make sure don’t miss any issue, subscribe.
In case you missed it
‘Don’t Say Gay’ sponsor DeSantis hits out at Disney for pledging to repeal law: ‘It crossed a line’
Florida Republicans slammed Disney on Tuesday after the company promised to help repeal the Parental Rights in Education Act — which critics call the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law — after Governor Ron DeSantis signed the legislation,” reports Alison Durkee:
Recount Disney reporters’ statement Tuesday was “fundamentally dishonest” and “crossed a line,” adding that Florida is not being governed “based on the demands of California’s corporate executives.” DeSantis pointed out that Disney didn’t speak out against HB 1557 before the bill passed – something they’ve been widely criticized for – saying the Florida House Speaker told him “Disney didn’t. ever called” when the bill was being considered by the legislature.
Florida State Representative Joe Harding (right), who sponsored HB 1557, said in a statement on Tuesday that his campaign returned Disney’s political donations because of the company’s opposition to the law , declaring in a press release the “rejection of common sense, parents-first principles gives me no choice but to return their donations.
Updates on previous Checks & Imbalances reports
Last week, Checks & Imbalances reported that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had donated at least $15,000 to Republican political committees, according to federal and state records.
Turns out that figure is at least $20,000.
Revising the search parameters on the FEC website to include an abbreviation of the city in which Thomas lives and the business address listed on his website generated 13 additional contributions, totaling $4,600. The biggest recipient of this lot was Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, which received $1,600 from Thomas.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) announced he would resign from Congress on March 31, after a jury found him guilty on Thursday of lying to the FBI about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national. Fortenberry’s campaign reported spending $158,000 on legal fees last year. Fortenberry also launched a legal expense trust in August.
Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.V.) said Tuesday that he would not support President Joe Biden’s proposed ‘minimum tax on billionaires’, which would impose a minimum tax of 20% on households with a higher value. at $100 million and would target unrealized gains,” reports Zachary Snowdon Smith.
“Over the past five years, 50 billionaires and 17 spouses of billionaires have donated to Manchin’s campaign committee or PAC leadership,” none of whom reside in West Virginia, Michela Tindera reported in November.
The PAC No Labels Problem Solvers had a problem with its February campaign filing, according to the FEC. The nonpartisan, centrist PAC did not forward contributions intended for other committees within 10 days, as required by law.
“The New York Attorney General’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s potentially deceptive business practices has uncovered ‘significant evidence’ that the company’s financial statements relied on misrepresentation to secure economic benefits for more than 10 years. ‘a decade, the attorney general’s office said in a court filing on Tuesday,” reports Anna Kaplan for Forbes:
James claimed the Trump Organization valued unsold units in the Trump Park Avenue building at more than six times their appraised value — at $292 million — on financial statements between 2010 and 2012, though an external appraisal concluded that the total market value of the units was worth $55. million. In another example, the company’s financial statements from 2012 to 2016 indicated that former President Donald Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower in Manhattan was over 30,000 square feet and “valued the apartment up to to $327 million based on those dimensions,” although the company’s 2017 statement “reduced the value of the apartment by two-thirds, sizing the residence to just under 11,000 square feet,” according to the case.
Forbes continues to update “Tracking Trump: A Rundown Of All The Lawsuits And Investigations Involving The Former President”. Among the latest developments: Trump has sued Hilary Clinton and the DNC, alleging they “maliciously conspired to weave a fake native” that he colluded with Russia in 2016.
- “Trump and two sons agree to be filed in lawsuit alleging they profited from a multi-level marketing scam” (Forbes)
- “GSA approves sale of Trump’s DC hotel lease” (The Washington Post)
- “Italian menswear retailer moves from Trump International Hotel” (Washington Business Journal)
- “US military spent nearly $150,000 on Trump properties, documents show” (The Washington Post)
- “Trump’s social app Truth plummets in traffic, sees 93% drop in signups since launch week” (The Wrap)
- “Trump’s latest fundraising message invokes Martin Niemöller’s famous poem about Hitler’s rise and puts the former president in the place of Nazi victims.” (Twitter/Hunter Walker of the Uprising)
- “How Joe Manchin Helped Coal and Made Millions” (New York Times)
- “Sen. Manchin Arrests Natural Gas Lobbyist” (LegiStorm)
- ‘Former congressman and lobbyist seek work in Kremlin-allied Belarus’ (Politico)
- “US Lobbying: Ex-Congressman Quits Sudan Over Russia Ties” (The Africa Report)
- “Anita Dunn and SKDK: Power and Influence in Biden’s Washington” (The Washington Post)
- ‘The fingerprints of a Google billionaire are all over Biden’s science office’ (Politico)
- “Progressives are building a massive, cloaked online powerhouse” (Axios)
- “House Candidates Get the Most Special Interest Money” (Axios)
- “The Walt Disney Company: Home of Mice, Magic and Money” (OpenSecrets)
- “Meta hires ex-Trump White House aide, number one hires Lott” (Politico)
- “Revealed: The biggest voter suppressor you’ve never heard of” (Center for Media and Democracy)
- “Ex-Congressman David Rivera loses ‘last chance’ ruling to avoid $456,000 campaign fine” (Florida Bulldog)
- “Healthcare taxes are the biggest lobbying issue, the data shows” (LegiStorm)
- “Michael Flynn’s nonprofit, America’s Future, was soliciting donations for a post office box in North Port, Florida. AF was $4,700 in the red in 2020 but gave away $1 million. to the Cyber Ninjas for the audit of Arizona in ’21. AF was not registered as a charity in Florida until 5 days ago. 1/” (Twitter/Chris Anderson of Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
- “Prosecutors advance Hunter Biden tax probe” (The Wall Street Journal)
- “Okay, so who made Rob Schneider join far-right bounty hunter-turned-conspiracy host Stew Peters and QAnon candidate SovCit Arizona candidate Josh Barnett for a paid Telegram fundraiser on their bingo card?” (Twitter/Arizona right wing surveillance)
- “Annual K Street Classic Bracket Features Higher Education Lobbying Big Spenders at March Madness Tournament” (OpenSecrets)
“Say, say, say what you want”
– Paul McCartney, “Say, Say, Say”