The Donald Trump campaign has brought on a controversial GOP operative with ties to the Koch brothers to run the campaign’s “election protection” program, the Guardian reported.
Mike Roman, Trump’s new elections monitor, is perhaps best known for his involvement in the New Black Panther controversy in 2008, as his website first posted the video and he continued to ring the alarms bells that the group was engaging in voter intimidation, even as the Department of Justice was divided about the case. He also led an “intelligence agency” connected to the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners network, Politico reported in 2015, that sought to monitor the election-related activities of Democrat-supporting groups.
Multiple sources confirmed with the Guardian that Roman was joining the campaign. His involvement comes as Trump has pushed the theory that the election is “rigged” against him, while urging his supporters to engage in vigilante monitoring at polling places.
Roman, a GOP researcher, has a history of claiming that the left was engaged in inappropriate activities to influence elections. His website, the Election Journal, blared the 2008 video of two members of the New Black Panthers lingering outside of a Philadelphia polling place, one of them holding a night stick. It prompted allegations of voter intimidation that became a conservative cause célèbre. The George W. Bush administration’s Department of Justice brought a civil case against the group that was ultimately dropped after President Obama took office — prompting discord within the agency — while Roman continued to publicize any New Black Panther political activity, often posting to Breitbart.
The Politico report on the Koch brothers’ intelligence group described Roman as a below-the-radar and even secretive figure.
“There was a joke about how hardly anyone ever met Mike Roman. It was like, if you wanted to find him, he’d be in a trench coat on the National Mall,” one former member of the organization told Politico.
According to the Guardian report, Roman will now lead the Trump operation monitoring election sites for any signs of alleged voter fraud. The campaign did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.