Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo apparently helped Kellyanne Conway sell her consulting company while she was promoting his list of Supreme Court candidates as a White House senior adviser.
Newly revealed financial documents reviewed by government ethics and finance experts show Leo, through one of his dark-money groups, helped finance a 2017 transaction between Creative Response Concepts Inc., and Conway's firm The Polling Company worth between $1 million and $5 million, reported Politico.
“We don’t know if she received fair market value for the company, and that’s an important question," said Melanie Sloan, a former House Judiciary Committee counsel for Democrats and now a senior adviser to the ethics watchdog American Oversight. "It also seems she was having trouble selling it, and that alone is a gift if you’re buying something nobody else wants to buy. If you’re just absorbing the employees, you could just hire them. So, what were they buying?"
The Polling Company had come under scrutiny from a congressional oversight committee over possible “conflicts of interest,” which put Conway under pressure to sell the firm where she was its most valuable asset, as she was lobbying Trump to nominate one of Leo's preferred judges to the seat held open by Senate Republicans by blocking Barack Obama nominee Merrick Garland.
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“It really shows Kellyanne as a vehicle for Leo, the leading role Leo has played and how Trump became his instrument,” said Bruce Freed, president of the nonpartisan Center for Political Accountability.
A spokesman for Leo declined to comment on the report, but conservative legal expert Ed Whelan downplayed any influence Conway might have had over Trump in the nomination process.
“It seems bizarre to think that any possible lobbying by Kellyanne Conway would have added to the force of that commitment or to the influence that Mitch McConnell and Don McGahn had already wielded,” Whelan said.