The FBI raided the Strategic Campaign Group (SCG) in Annapolis, MD Thursday, but refused to specify why it issued search warrants. Because SCG is connected to some of President Trump’s advisors, there’s widespread speculation that the raid was related to the FBI’s investigation into Russian associates.
SCG’s president Kelley Rogers told the Capital Gazette that the search pertained to work “the firm performed during the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign of former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican.”
The Cuccinelli campaign filed a civil suit against SCG and the Conservative Strike Force Political Action Committee in 2014. The campaign stated that the two groups “raised about $2.2 million by assuring donors it would spend that money to help elect the GOP candidate,” but did not use the money properly on “an extensive media campaign on Cuccinelli’s campaign.”
Accusations against the firm included “false advertising, breach of contract and unauthorized use of his name and image.” The firm settled with Cuccinelli for $75,000. Others place the total at $85,000.
Rogers fought back against the lawsuit’s claims. The Capital Gazette continued:
He insisted Thursday that the Cuccinelli campaign’s claims have no merit. He said his firm raised about $300,000 for the PAC to spend on the governor’s race. Of that amount, $10,000 was donated to Cuccinelli’s campaign. He said the PAC, which he controlled, conducted an email campaign on behalf of Cuccinelli but was unable to raise enough money for direct mail or broadcast campaigns.
“I feel like we did everything in our power,” Rogers said. “Had he been a better candidate, I think we could have done better.”
SCG’s Prominence in the Republican World
The firm is highly regarded and frequently used by the RNC. WBAL described the impact SGC has on the GOP:
The firm is touted for pioneering the use of technology in political campaigns, and it represents GOP candidates nationwide. The firm’s website said one of its principles was formerly associated with a firm operated by Paul Manafort, who is the former Trump campaign manager whose business dealings with Russia are under intense scrutiny.
Strategic Campaign Group’s national clients include the Tea Party and the Conservative Majority Fund. The local client lists include Maryland state House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, and Delegate Pat McDonough used the firm while running for Congress. According to McDonough, the company did work for Gov. Larry Hogan and the GOP caucus.
Rogers also said the investigation was not looking into Maryland politicians. From The Baltimore Sun:
Rogers said the investigation did not involve Maryland politics and insisted his firm had done nothing wrong, but said he would release clients from their contracts if desired.
Maryland Republicans quickly distanced themselves from the firm.
Both Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, of Baltimore County, and House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, of Anne Arundel County, said their committees will not use the firm again until its legal issues are resolved.
They confirmed that campaign committees for GOP senators and delegates had hired the firm to raise money and do other work before the 2017 session.
“I’m shocked by what has come to light today and we will not be working with them on any new projects until the legal process is completed and they are cleared,” Kipke said a few hours after the raid.
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