A recently unearthed scheme by two far-right conservative operatives sheds light on their attempts to errantly paint one of the Democratic presidential hopefuls as a sexual predator by urging others to level fake accusations against him.
A Republican source detailed to The Daily Beast on Monday how lobbyist Jack Burkman and far-right social media personality/troll Jacob Wohl tried to recruit men to make salacious claims against South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay candidate for president running for the Democratic nomination.
According to the source, the goal by the duo was to disrupt Buttigieg’s rising star status in the presidential campaign by encouraging gay men to make false accusations saying that the mayor had sexually assaulted them. The source provided recordings of their conversations with Burkman and Wohl to The Daily Beast, telling the publication that they decided to record the talks because they knew of Wohl’s previous work before the meeting took place.
A forensic expert working with The Daily Beast confirmed that the voice on the other end of the recording was indeed Wohl’s.
The scheme is not an all-too-unfamiliar one for Wohl and Burkman, who allegedly attempted to do a similar smear job against Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller. The two reportedly tried to pay a woman to come forward and make claims that Mueller had assaulted her, per previous reporting from HillReporter.com.
HillReporter.com reached out to the alleged victim from the Mueller allegations, Carolyne Cass, who claims that Wohl made the whole incident up and then threw her under the bus. She had a surprising message to the authorities who appear to continue to allow Wohl and Burkman to ruin peoples’ lives.
“This is dodgy and I can’t comment on what is going on here because I honestly don’t know. What I do know is, faking or fabricating false allegations of any kind is wrong and seems to occur often in our society as a means for psychopaths to create chaos in their favor. Having a history of being a target, prey, to this type of psychopath I speak from experience. Real victims become silenced and unheard as a result. These stunts are dangerous, damaging to reputations, and are extremely unproductive. Stealing and using faking identities to misrepresent yourself is a crime last time I checked. Why is this continuing? Seems criminal but apparently this is not a crime. This behavior is for sure toxic and abusive in nature. It would likely stop if the perpetrators involved were brought to justice and faced consequences for their actions. Perhaps David or Jack could comment considering they are the lawyers involved in this particular operation and would provide the best insight,” Cass told us.
The source in the Buttigieg incident came forward around the same time that discrepancies in another man’s supposed claims were revealed online. A Medium post authored by an individual named Hunter Kelly was posted earlier this week, making claims that he was assaulted by Buttigieg in February of this year, similar to what the source said Wohl and Burkman had asked them to say.
The Buttigieg campaign, and Buttigieg himself, have denied any wrongdoing associated with the claim.
Hours after the Medium post was made, a Facebook account claiming to be owned by the real Hunter Kelly (and seemingly verified to be his by The Daily Beast) stated that the Medium post was fraudulent.
“I WAS NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED,” Kelly wrote in a Facebook post about the Medium article. He explained that he indeed was invited and traveled to Washington D.C. to speak about “political situations from the standpoint of a gay Republican.”
The operatives Kelly spoke with — which, he confirmed in an interview with The Advocate were Wohl and Burkman — “started talking about how they would be working a campaign against” Buttigieg.
SCOOP: Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman are behind the sexual assault allegations against Pete Buttigieg.
And we got screenshots of Wohl buying the real Hunter Kelly's plane tickets – who now denies the story. https://t.co/vLv3XgF1BZ
— Zach Stafford (@ZachStafford) April 30, 2019
Kelly had arrived at the home of Burkman in D.C. and discussed the need to derail Buttigieg’s campaign. He stayed overnight at Burkman’s residence, but he never agreed to make the allegations that were written of in the Medium post.
“I woke up at 11 a.m. and spent my whole day saying I did not want this to happen,” he said per the Advocate’s reporting. “My sister and her husband came and got me.”
HillReporter.com reached out via Facebook Messenger to the account purporting to be the real Hunter Kelly to gain further perspective from him. He again denied that he was ever assaulted by Buttigieg, stating that he had never met the candidate.
“No i do not know mayor Pete, and was unaware this is what I was going to be traveling here [to D.C.] for,” Kelly wrote to HillReporter.com.
Kelly stated that he had come to Washington to promote a campaign he thought would target what he felt were Buttigieg’s “very poor race relations of the past.”
But he knew something was off right away when he met with the political operatives.
“After a few hours of them [Wohl and Burkman] planning with me, I knew I could not go forward,” Kelly told HillReporter.com. “I was always apprehensive and they could feel that. Jack Burkman kept telling me I was ‘his star’ which, for a homophobe such as himself, is quite odd.”
The anonymous source that spoke to The Daily Beast stated that he, too, was asked to make an allegation of assault against Buttigieg. Wohl and Burkman had wanted the source to do most of the legwork for the plan, including figuring out a time when they were in D.C. at the same time as Buttigieg to make the allegation more convincing.
The source said they were skeptical about moving forward, but Wohl and Burkman assured them that they would be famous if they agreed to it, citing Christine Blasey Ford after she made allegations against then-nominee to the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh.
The duo also suggested to the source that they’d be doing a positive thing, telling them that there were other known victims of Buttigieg that they had knowledge of who were simply waiting for someone else to come forward first. Such victims, if they do exist, are not known of at this time.
The source made clear that they weren’t interested in pursuing the matter further with Wohl and Burkman. A day or so later, Wohl called up the source, and asked if they knew of anybody else who might be interested in being part of their plan.
The source told the Daily Beast that they knew the plan was fishy from the get-go. “I was sitting there thinking: this is the Fyre Festival of political operations,” the source stated, comparing the planning by Wohl and Burkman to the poorly organized music festival that ended in disaster in 2017.