REVEALED: Mike Flynn’s assistant ran secret social media operation — and results were reported to Bannon
A friend and associate of Ret. Lt. Gen Michael Flynn worked on two major projects for the former national security advisor and one of them might result in him being called into testifying at a hearing.
According to a Washington Post investigative report, Jon Iadonisi used one of his companies to help Flynn with an investigation on behalf of a Turkish government ally. At the same time, Iadonisi was doing work for the Trump campaign. According to a source familiar with the arrangement, he was tasked with managing a key social media project.
Trump’s FEC reports reveal he paid $200,000 on Dec. 5 to Colt Ventures, a Dallas venture-capital firm that listed Iadonisi’s company VizSense as a client after The Post called to inquire. Colt Ventures was founded by Darren Blanton, who met frequently with Steve Bannon while Bannon was working for the Trump campaign. However, a White House official claimed that Bannon is “not aware of any of these companies or contracts.” Yet, a person familiar with the matter said that Colt Ventures personally provided Bannon with a report that detailed the work they’d done for the campaign.
Trump campaign ED Michael Glassner said that Colt Ventures was paid for a social media project that involved “millennial engagement” through video content in the final month of the campaign. However, the payment went to the venture capital firm and not to VizSense for the digital work. Also, VizSense isn’t located in Dallas where Cold Ventures is, They office out of an Alexandria, VA office suite that was once shared by the Flynn Intel Group.
It’s typical for political consultants and vendors to hire people to manage specific projects, but it is illegal for a campaign to avoid disclosure by paying a company that has nothing to do with the recipient of the cash, the FEC’s former general counsel and head of enforcement told The Post.
“A venture-capital company is certainly a strange entity for a campaign to be making an expenditure to, and I would want to look further to assess whether it was it an appropriate recipient,” campaign-finance lawyer Daniel Petalas explained.
Iadonisi’s online biography says that he worked with the CIA as a Navy SEAL and he has close ties to Flynn, whom he served with in Iraq. Flynn even endorsed Iadonisi’s work on LinkedIn as “one of the best problem solvers I have ever worked with” and “an incredible asset for any organization.” VizSense’s Twitter account promoted Flynn in December, saying that he would “construct an NSC that is custom build for what America needs to be first!”
Flynn is being investigated by the Defense Department for payments he scored from Inovo, a Netherlands-based company owned by Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish-American businessman who has close ties to top officials in Turkey. He was tasked by Alptekin to investigate Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic cleric who fled Turkey after an allegedly failed coup attempt. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Gulen extradited back to Turkey.
That work was reportedly done by Tim Newberry who served as a submarine officer with Iadonisi, according to his LinkedIn page. Newberry and Iadonisi founded VizSense together in 2015 and he listed Flynn’s company as an employer for a short time. Newberry was also the chief executive of White Canvas Group, which Flynn and Iadonisi’s companies rented office space from in Virginia.