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George Gilmore, a one-time Republican powerbroker in New Jersey, fell from grace after three federal tax fraud convictions — but then former President Donald Trump pardoned him on his way out the door and, according to POLITICO, he has rebuilt his sphere of influence not just among New Jersey Republicans, but even Democrats.
"Just two years prior, the 73-year-old Gilmore, who had been the undisputed boss of the most powerful Republican organization in New Jersey for more than two decades, had been largely written off as one in a long series of disgraced politicos," reported Matt Friedman. "He was hit with three felony tax-related convictions after a federal trial that included embarrassing personal revelations, like those about his profligate spending on antique Coca-Cola machines, a $33,000 bronze George Washington statue and other items. His defense attorney characterized it as a hoarding disorder."
"But a key connection to Donald Trump got Gilmore a pardon on the president’s last day in the White House," said the report. "By the following year, Gilmore had again become a force in New Jersey politics, so much so that the state’s Democratic governor and a Democratic state senator in a neighboring county — Vin Gopal, one of Republicans’ top targets in state legislative elections — broke bread with him."
Per the report, Gilmore — who still faces liens on his home and owes millions of dollars to the IRS — could exercise significant influence in the next New Jersey governor's race in 2025. He potentially has influence over Republican endorsements for governor, which matters because a quirk of New Jersey election law means local endorsements affect how prominently candidates appear on the ballot.
This could be a particular obstacle to Jack Ciattarelli, the GOP candidate who came within 3 points of beating Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in 2021 and who is reportedly interested in running again. Gilmore didn't support Ciattarelli the first time around, instead backing far-right alternative Phil Rizzo.
"Gilmore’s return as chair didn’t start smoothly. He blamed the officials who had controlled the party during his absence for removing items from the party headquarters late at night and quickly transferring funds out of party accounts," noted the report. "He filed a lawsuit seeking emails and other records, with one defendant, Republican Assemblymember Greg McGuckin, calling him 'someone in severe financial distress who managed to escape federal prison only due to his political connections,'"
However, the report said, "tensions have quieted as Gilmore has worked to restore his grip on power. This month, he agreed to drop his lawsuit, under the stipulation that the party’s former executive director admitted in writing to deleting a Google account to block Gilmore’s access to the former party leaders’ emails."
'Not an official report': Ronna McDaniel distances from leaked doc urging GOP to ramp up election denial
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel appeared to distance herself from the recently circulated GOP document calling on Republicans at the state level to ramp up election denial efforts for 2024, according to WISN 12 political director Matt Smith.
"That's not an official report. There's other things that need to be added to that, including all the legal pursuits that we had, all the lawsuits that we had," said McDaniel. She added that, "We're going to continue to engage in election integrity, poll watchers, poll workers and litigation when it's necessary."
The document in question was unearthed by The Washington Post last week, and appeared to outline a plan to increase and formalize the process for election challenges, creating "election integrity officers" all around the country — even as the document acknowledged that election fraud conspiracy theories hurt Republican voters' confidence in elections and may have contributed to their losses in key states in 2020 and 2022.
“If there is corruption in the election infrastructure, then having Republicans in the system will expose many issues,” the report said.
This comes after McDaniel was just elected to another term chairing the RNC, following a contentious challenge from Trump attorney Harmeet Dhillon — a lawyer who helped advance litigation to overturn the election in 2020. MyPillow CEO and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell also mounted a bid to chair the party.
Most prominent Republicans who pushed conspiracy theories about election integrity prior to the 2022 midterms have accepted the results. One exception is Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, who has continued to declare herself the rightful winner and file lawsuits challenging the results — and is now the subject of a criminal complaint for a tweet in which she appeared to show real people's ballot signatures, a potential violation of state law.
Fox News contributor Mara Liasson refuted libertarian pundit Robby Soave after he claimed that letters to the Justice Department on behalf of Hunter Biden were endangering freedom of speech.
On Sunday's edition of the Media Buzz program, Soave complained about letters Biden's attorneys sent to the Justice Department to urge an investigation into the copying of his personal information. The letters named conservative media and personalities that disseminated information about a laptop allegedly belonging to Biden.
"It's like a whistleblower scenario," Soave said. "You're going to go after — you don't go after the people that report the information once they get it; once they had a hand — unless there was a criminal matter and they participated in that to get the information. Otherwise, you get information like this; you're supposed to report it."
"And he's trying to silence that, and that's very bad," he asserted.
Fox News host Howard Kurtz wondered if Soave was right to believe "this is a chilling atmosphere for freedom of the press."
"Donald Trump didn't like his press coverage and used to try to change it," Liasson pointed out. "I don't know if he ever threatened lawsuits or not. I think he did, actually."
"Well, he sued a few people," Kurtz recalled as Soave's argument crumbled. "In fact, he sued Bob Woodward for $49 million over those audio tapes."
"Is that a chilling effect on free speech?" Liasson asked. "I think Donald Trump is a bigger, more powerful figure than Hunter Biden."
Soave shifted arguments and wondered: "Where will be the mainstream denunciation of what the Biden family, of what Hunter Biden is doing here against freedom of the press?"
"You can argue about how much coverage every type of media is giving this story," Liasson retorted, "and whether it's enough or not. And that's always in the eye of the beholder. But you just played a lot of clips from mainstream media and them talking about this story."
"It's never going to be enough for conservative media," she added, "for which it's above the fold every day."
Fox News pundit shuts down criticism of Hunter Biden www.youtube.com