‘How Is She In My House?’ Woman At Center Of ItalyGate Was Up To Some Weird Things

Michele Ballarin speaking with former Somali president Ahmed Sheikh Sharif in Warrenton, Virginia on May 24, 2013. (Photo by D.A. Peterson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The story of Michele Ballarin, the Virginia realtor and Somali pirate hostage negotiator with ties to MAGAland’s bonkers “ItalyGate” conspiracy theory, just got even more bizarre somehow.

The Washington Post reports that the nearly $30 million mansion in Warrenton, Virginia that Ballarin claims belongs to her, uh, doesn’t.

The property is owned by a company of a deceased financier, David B. Ford, and his widow told the Post that she has no idea who Ballarin is.

“She’s in my house,” the widow said when the Post showed her a video of the realtor giving a televised tour of the 22-bedroom mansion with an Icelandic TV crew in November. “How is she in my house?”

In the interview that accompanied the tour, Ballarin insisted that the property belonged to her even though, as the interviewer pointed out, there aren’t any personal items that would indicate she actually lives there.

“I didn’t take you to every corner,” she told the reporter.

The mansion is still listed for sale as of Monday.

TPM’s report on ItalyGate, the absurd conspiracy theory that Italian operatives used satellites to switch votes for Donald Trump for Joe Biden in a plot to rig the 2020 election, details how the two firms run by Ballarin, the Institute for Good Governance and USAerospace Partners, were involved with pushing the conspiracy theory that eventually reached Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Meadows would go on to ask top DOJ officials to investigate the conspiracy theory as Trump and his allies attempted to delegitimize the election with lies about voter fraud.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: