Ousted WH Aide Gorka Joins Conspiracy Theory-Happy ‘MAGA Coalition’

Cheriss May/SIPPL Sipa USA

Former White House staffer and self-styled counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka has joined a secretive pro-Trump super PAC whose leaders have pushed conspiracy theories about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer and “Pizzagate.”

Gorka left the White House in late August, disputing the administration’s claim that he was fired. Axios first reported Tuesday on MAGA Coalition hiring Gorka, and the Daily Beast did a deep dive on the group’s leadership later in the day.

MAGA Coalition asserted in an late August FEC filing that it “exists to further the political influence of ‘America First’ policies; engineered to put the freedom, sovereignty and economic prosperity policies for the American voters into practice in our government.”

The group’s known staff is extremely small, but Gorka’s hiring as its “chief strategist” shines a bright light on its habit of promoting extreme conspiracy theories.

Adam Gingrich, the group’s president, has posed questions like “If Seth Rich was African-American, would the DC police get away with hiding body cam and other video footage?” and “Who murdered Seth Rich?” on his Twitter account, according to the Daily Beast. Gingrich he made his tweets private after the publication reached out to him.

Rich was a DNC staffer who died after what police say was a botched robbery. Conspiracy theorists assert he played a hand in passing Democratic operatives’ emails to WikiLeaks, and that his death was orchestrated as revenge. Rich’s family has pled with conspiracy theorists to stop propagating their baseless claims.

In a September filing, MAGA Coalition changed its listed headquarters to a house in Tequesta, Florida. The Daily Beast reported that house belongs to John Kreuger, who claimed to have resigned as the group’s COO and vice president in the same filing, and his wife Ann Vandersteel.

Vandersteel, like Gingrich, has pushed Seth Rich conspiracies, as well as the so-called “Pizzagate” conspiracy. Pizzagate believers assert that Comet Ping Pong, a pizza joint in Washington, D.C., is actually a hub in a major child trafficking ring in which the Clintons play a role.

Gingrich has appeared with Vandersteel on YourVoice Radio, the internet broadcast of the famously toothy pro-Trump prognosticator Bill Mitchell, the Daily Beast pointed out.

Carrie Lockhart, who also claimed to have resigned from MAGA Coalition in the September filing despite being listed as its treasurer in the same document, also works for YourVoice and is similarly conspiratorial, the Daily Beast reported.

A spokesperson for MAGA Coalition, Tricia Cunningham, defended the theories to the publication.

“As far as Pizzagate, I’ve traveled from Pennsylvania to Washington D.C., and human trafficking is a huge deal,” she said. “So there’s a lot of questions that need to be raised.”

Axios reported that Gorka would appear with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin Thursday in a rally for Senate candidate Roy Moore. It will be a joint rally with the Steve Bannon-aligned group Great America Alliance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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