Today we look at two Republicans who have announced they are running for president, as well as a third who is expected to do the same.
This is the web edition of the free Checks & Imbalances newsletter, sent to inboxes on Fridays. You can subscribe here. Please support this work, if you can, by subscribing to Forbes.
Donald Trump Has Been Lying About Trump Tower For Decades
“As the former president tries to fend off authorities, new revelations about Trump Tower suggest that the building is—and always was—something of a fraud,” reports Dan Alexander.
Our latest look at Trump Tower uncovered three new revelations:
— Property records show that Trump has been lying about the financial performance of the building since it first opened in 1983.
— Tax and lending documents indicate that Trump lied about the square footage of the office and retail space at the base of the property (not to be confused with his lying about size of the penthouse atop the building, which Forbes previously exposed).
— Portions of a 2015 audio recording, released here for the first time, prove that Trump was personally involved in the efforts to lie about the value of Trump Tower’s commercial space.
Watch: Senior editor Dan Alexander joins Brittany Lewis to discuss this story.
Any tips or suggestions? Email me at email@example.com, call/SMS/Signal 202.804.2744, use Forbes’ SecureDrop or send us a letter. Follow me on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Mike Pompeo’s PAC Spent $42,000 On Books The Day His Memoir Was Published. It Became A Bestseller.
Mike Pompeo’s political action committee shelled out $42,000 on books the day his memoir hit bookshelves, according to a filing submitted to the Federal Election Commission on Monday.
“Never Give An Inch: Fighting for the America I Love” came out on Jan. 24. That same day, Champion American Values, a PAC that Pompeo chairs, paid Bulkbooks.com $42,000 for “mementos—books,” according to the filing.
Pompeo’s memoir debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times best-seller list for hardcover nonfiction. Three weeks later, it remains in the rankings at No. 10. The Times notes that retailers reported bulk orders of “Never Give An Inch.”
Pompeo is not a candidate for federal office, so he is allowed to personally profit when his PAC buys his book with donors’ funds, according to Brett Kappel, an attorney specializing in campaign finance at Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg.
Spokespeople for Champion American Values did not immediately respond to inquiries.
In addition to paying back an advance or earning royalties, politicians can benefit in other ways when their political committees buy their books. Publishers might be more likely to strike deals with politicians in the first place, knowing they have donor funds they can tap into for a bulk purchase. And purchases from retailers, even in bulk, can help a book reach the best-seller list, a marketing coup.
Pompeo’s PAC used the Times’ ranking to emphasize his book’s appeal. “Even the New York Times admits that my new book is a must-read!,” Pompeo says in a $400 Facebook ad campaign that started on Feb. 14. The Times did not review Pompeo’s book, suggesting that Pompeo was referring to its position on the best-seller list.
Other politicians have used their PAC funds to buy their own memoirs. In November, former Vice President Mike Pence’s Great America Committee spent $91,000 on his book at a New York City retailer. Unlike Pompeo though, when Pence’s memoir hit the best-seller list, the Times did not indicate any bulk orders.
Bankman-Fried Hit With Four New Criminal Charges Alleging Illegal Political Donations And Bank Fraud
“Former billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of befallen crypto exchange FTX, has been charged with four new criminal counts including allegations of illegal political donations and bank fraud, an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court revealed on Thursday—tacking on to the eight charges already facing the former wunderkind as he gears up for trial later this year,” reports Jonathan Ponciano.
In a superseding indictment unveiled Thursday, prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried used billions of dollars in customer funds to fund speculative venture investments and try to purchase influence over cryptocurrency regulation in Washington, D.C. by steering tens of millions of dollars of illegal campaign contributions to both Democrats and Republicans.
The new counts include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, operate an unlicensed money transmitter, make unlawful political contributions and defraud the Federal Election Commission.
Republican Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy Sells $32 Million Of Biotech Firm’s Stock
“On Wednesday GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy sold 4 million shares in biotech firm Roivant Sciences at a price of $7.95 per share for a total of $32 million, netting him an estimated $24.2 million in after-tax proceeds,” reports John Hyatt.
The stock sale, reported in a regulatory filing, came one day after Ramaswamy announced his longshot bid for the Republican presidential candidacy with an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal and an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show…
Ramaswamy’s stock sale proceeds may go towards funding his presidential campaign. (He could not be reached for comment as of press time.) In recent days the biotech entrepreneur has been barnstorming across New Hampshire speaking about climate change, China and other campaign themes.
Not that Ramaswamy wants to make a habit of self funding. The filing reporting his Roivant stock sale came with a footnote that says, “The reporting person does not expect to sell additional shares of the Issuer [Roivant] for the foreseeable future.”
“Two pregnant women, a heart attack sufferer and a woman who needed airlifting to a hospital after a stroke were amongst hundreds victims of an alleged $4 million fraud perpetrated by a Christian ministry offering an Obamacare alternative, according to the FBI,” reports Thomas Brewster.
Members of the Medical Cost Sharing (MCS) ministry had been promised their medical bills would be covered in return for a monthly contribution. Those membership fees were to be “shared” with a network of “like-minded” Christians, in what appeared to be a legitimate faith-based nonprofit, effectively crowdfunding insurance and charitably disbursing money when claimants required aid. But clients claimed they were denied coverage for reasons they couldn’t grasp and left with thousands in unpaid medical bills, according to an FBI search warrant. The feds claim it was part of a fraud, one that saw the business owners—Missouri-based Craig Reynolds and James McGinnis—pocket $4 million of $7.5 million in membership payments, of which only $250,000 (3.2%) went on medical expenses. The feds say the organization has become even stingier in recent years, distributing no money whatsoever to members since 2021…
Meanwhile, according to investigators, Reynolds and McGinnis have enjoyed the fruits of their illicit labor, taking money out of MCS accounts to the point where the nonprofit didn’t have enough funds to cover claimants, the DOJ said in a complaint. Feds claimed the membership fees were used, among other things, to pay for a holiday to Mexico, various vehicles and a $300 gift to a Donald Trump political action committee.
“Take a wild guess as to who’s providing ‘Trump Water’ to residents of East Palestine, Ohio. And take a wild guess as to who’s told everyone about it. Well, you probably don’t need 45 guesses. The answer to both of these questions was the 45th U.S. President and current Mar-a-Lago resident Donald Trump,” reports Bruce Y. Lee.
Kari Lake, an Arizona Republican who lost her gubernatorial run, returned to Mar-a-Lago last week, according to an Instagram post.
Steve Wynn, a casino mogul who resigned from his company after accusations of sexual misconduct (he denied the allegations), appeared at a second Trump property in the past month.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares will headline the 6th Annual Loudoun Conservative Gala on April 29 at Trump’s Virginia golf club. Tickets are $150.
The Hispanic Police Officers Association of Dade County commemorated President’s Day by sharing a photograph of the group’s president at Trump’s Miami resort.
Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performed at Mar-a-Lago last weekend during the wedding reception of major Republican donor Adam Kidan. Trump attended the event.
It’s all right, it’s okay
And you may look the other way
We can try to understand
The New York Times’ effect on man
— Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive”