The belief that Donald Trump will become the Republican Party's kingmaker since his re-election loss will be put to the test in a key Ohio district in 2022's midterm election reports Politico.
As Republicans flock to Trump Mar-a-Lago resort to court the former president for both his endorsement and support from his cash-flush PAC, Trump is reportedly focused on seeking retribution against any Republican in the House or Senate who voted to impeach him just prior to the 2020 re-election.
In Ohio, Trump's GOP target is Rep. Anthony Gonzalez who has amassed a war chest of his own and will likely face a Trump-anointed primary challenger with a thin resume other than a Trump endorsement and a wealthy family.
"In a normal political world and in a normal political time, a second-generation Cuban-American former NFL player from the Rust Belt with an MBA from Stanford would be considered practically by definition a rising GOP star," Politico's Michael Kruse wrote. "But Gonzalez's impeachment decision made him a traitor in the eyes of the man who is manifestly the unofficial leader of the party. It's the reason Trump wasted no time endorsing Max Miller—a former aide with next to no name ID plus an arrest record—to try to take out Gonzalez. And it's why the 16th District of Ohio is now a singular early battlefield in the former president's intensifying intraparty war."
While one Trump-aligned political consultant stated, "Max is going to beat the hell out of Anthony," others who live in the district say not so fast.
"As battlefields go, Ohio as a whole is more red than purple, and so is the 16th District—but it's replete as well with warning signs for Trump that his quest for retaliation might succeed only in further tearing the party apart," Kruse wrote. " [Miller] is an electoral novice and the scion of a wealthy, politically connected family from the opposite side of Cleveland in a city in which many believe that divide still matters. And since he announced his bid, his critics say, he's been hanging around the Trump stronghold of Southeast Florida more conspicuously than he's been out and about in Northeast Ohio."
According to Gonzalez ally, the incumbent is not going to go down without a fight, saying, "It ain't gonna be pretty. It's just not."
With Kruse writing, "All of this makes Ohio's 16th worth watching as an early, distilled look at the potential limits and pitfalls of Trump's shoot-first, aim-later style, his personality-driven, fealty-fueled, viscerally scattershot politics of retribution," David Pepper, the former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, added, "It's a perfect example of how Trump could really hurt not just the near term but the future of the Republican Party. It's all about a loyalty test to him that almost will put targets on the backs of some of their best people."
As for Miller's arrest record, Politico reports, "He was charged with assault and disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in 2007 after a fight in which he punched another man in the back of the head and ran from police. He pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanors, and the case was dismissed on account of a program for first offenders. He was charged with underage drinking in 2009, the case dismissed due to the same program. And he was charged with disorderly conduct in 2010 following a fight after leaving a hookah bar in the wee hours in which he bloodied his wrist by punching a glass door," which is sure to become a central theme in Gonzalez's campaign
You can read more about the battle between the two here.
"Officer Christopher Walls, who has been a member of the Long Branch Police Department for 19 years, was charged with producing, possessing and selling methamphetamine," said the report.
While awaiting trial he's also been suspended from the department without pay.
Police discovered the lab after "a domestic disturbance," and the responding officer was told there could be narcotics, resulting in a request for a hazmat team. Meth labs are highly volatile and can be extremely flamable.
"The officers in our agency risk their lives daily to protect and serve our residents. It is disappointing beyond measure that one of our officers could have risked the safety of his family and neighbors by engaging in such dangerous conduct," said Long Branch police's acting chief Frank Rizzuto. "This officer's actions do not reflect the moral compass of our officers or this agency."
A leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right gang that played an outsized role in orchestrating the Capitol riot, reportedly obtained north of $15,000 in paycheck protection program loans just this year.
The Guardian first reported that Enrique Tarrio, a chairman of the group, was allotted two $7,750 loans respectively on March 30 and April 16. According to records obtained by ProPublica, Tarrio is classified as an independent contractor working in "Security Systems Services." Tarrio is shown as the officer of several defunct LLCs including "SPIE Security LLC," "Fund The West LLC," and "Proud Boys LLC".
During his 2020 congressional bid in Florida's 27th congressional district, Tarrio claimed to be the proprietor of "several companies that were involved in the surveillance and security industry." However, Florida records did not indicate that Tarrio is a licensed security officer.
Tarrio is also classified as the registered agent of "Warboys LLC," a company founded in July of last year but dissolved this year on April 7. Also listed as officers of Warboys LLC are Joe Biggs and Ethan Nordean, both of whom are facing conspiracy charges in connection to the Capitol riot.
According to Penn Live, Warboys LLC reportedly shared the same address as another company known as "Proudboys LLC," for which Tarrio was listed as both the agent and manager.
Back in January, Salon detailed Tarrio's string of failures in business and politics. It appears that the vast majority of businesses Tarrio has founded are no longer active. In February, Tarrio ran to represent Florida's 27th congressional district, but failed to make the ballot. Florida records appear to indicate that Tarrio, now 39, legally resides with his mother in Miami, where he operates a business known as "1776 Merchandise," which runs the 1776 Shop, an ecommerce store that sells far-right merchandise.
Back in 2014, Tarrio was arrested and convicted of stealing and reselling diabetes strip tests from Abbott Labs – a crime which earned him sixteen months in federal prison. Tarrio still has yet to pay the company $1.2 million in restitution.
On January 4, just before the Capitol riot, Tarrio was arrested for vandalizing a Black church and possessing a high capacity feeding device. Tarrio was later barred from entering Washington, D.C., which prevented him from participating in the storming of the Capitol.
The PPP loan program was first implemented under the Trump administration last year as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to help businesses and stay afloat during the pandemic. In January, Biden expanded the program for a second round, allowing business to apply for more funding until May 31. However, according to CNBC, millions of borrowers have missed out on the opportunity to apply for a second loan because the program ran out of funding during the first week of May.
While the PPP program has been a lifeline for several needy businesses during the COVID crisis, it has also been subject of widespread criticism amid revelations that big businesses – as well as high-net worth politicians – took in loans while many smaller businesses couldn't qualify.
Former appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) is running again to regain her seat after being voted out in a 2021 runoff. However, she's causing a lot of anger among her donors after she was caught in a similar scandal as former President Donald Trump.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Loeffler "had to refund millions of dollars in campaign donations." She was automatically checking off a box that signed donors up for monthly contributions. "Only by manually unchecking the box did the donation convert to a one-time gift," said the report.
It ultimately resulted in the demand to refund millions of dollars to donors after they discovered she took additional money from them.
When AJC asked about the monthly donations box, Loeffler's website suddenly made a change. "The monthly recurring donation box is no longer checked on the Greater Georgia site," they said.
Loeffler's net worth exceeds $500 million, yet she automatically checked off the monthly donation box anyway.
Read the full report on AJC.
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