Jason Preston also adds several staff members with ties to the far-right Proud Boys.
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Congressional candidate Jason Preston swings for the fences to win the Republican nomination in Utah’s 3rd congressional district against incumbent John Curtis. He hired veteran Republican political consultant Roger Stone to help boost his campaign nationwide and ultimately attract small donors ahead of the April 23 Republican convention, according to a campaign document.
Preston’s campaign has also hired several out-of-state staffers who have direct ties to the far-right Proud Boys militia and a swirling scandal surrounding Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, according to the same document.
According to a campaign strategy memo obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune, Stone is listed as a “strategic advisor” for the campaign and is responsible for “overall campaign strategy.” He is expected to endorse Preston with an article posted on the website of Gateway Pundit, known for spreading COVID-19 misinformation and fraud conspiracies in the 2020 election. Two Georgia poll workers who became the target of conspiracy theories following the presidential election are suing Gateway Pundit and owners Jim and Joe Hoft alleging a “campaign of lies” that resulted in harassment and threats.
Stone has worked on the campaigns of several prominent Republicans, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, and has a famous tattoo of Nixon covering his back. In 2019, Stone was arrested by the FBI on arraignment as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign. He received a full pardon shortly before Trump left office in 2020.
More recently, Stone defended Congressman Madison Cawthorn’s allegation of cocaine-fueled orgies involving members of Congress, saying he could confirm that members of Congress engaged in the practice. Stone also defended Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine by saying the military action was defensive.
According to the document, Stone’s written endorsement will kick off a planned three-week publicity blitz that includes a personal appearance by Stone the day before the GOP convention and at the convention itself. Stone also plans to conduct a tele-town hall for GOP delegates and a video endorsement.
The strategic campaign plan lists a cost of $21,500 for the “Campaign M Team”, but does not detail how, if anything, Stone was paid.
The document was on a publicly accessible social media account used by members of the campaign team. The Preston campaign has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the document. Neither Preston nor his aides responded to multiple messages seeking comment. Several attempts to reach Stone or his representatives for comment have failed.
The document highlights several new staff members who have joined Preston’s campaign team. They include Adrienna Dicioccio as executive director, Jacob Engels as advisor and Luke Rofhling to manage the campaign’s digital strategy. These three have several ties to the far-right Proud Boys militia.
The Proud Boys are a self-proclaimed “Western chauvinist” organization that has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Proud Boys reject this label. Stone has deep ties to the group and often uses the Proud Boys for his personal safety in public.
The Proud Boys played a role in the Capitol insurrection on January 6. Enrique Tarrio, the organization’s former leader, was accused of conspiracy with other leaders in connection with the attack.
Engels, a prominent Florida alt-right blogger who contributes to Alex Jones’ InfoWars program, is a known associate of the Proud Boys. Engles denied being a member of the group, saying he was an embedded journalist with the organization. Engels was photographed several times wearing the Proud Boys’ black and gold uniform and used “we” to refer to the band. Engles did not respond to a message seeking comment on this article.
Engels appears to be close with Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. When Engels was banned from Twitter in 2019 after posting a tweet about Islam, Gaetz defended Engels using the hashtag #FreeJacob.
Engels recently helped spark outrage against sex education books in schools. At a recent Orange County school board meeting, he read aloud from the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir.”
Engels is also assisting U.S. Senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer in his primary election challenge against Oklahoma Republican incumbent James Lankford.
Luke Rofhling, who helps with email fundraising efforts for Preston, is a “third degree” member of the Proud Boys group and helped organize a 2019 rally in Washington, DC, which brought together several prominent figures from the far-right fringe, including anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer.
Rofhling was also present with other members at rallies for former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Adrianna DiCioccio helped plan the July 2019 rally in Washington. She was also part of a pre-rally confrontation between members of the Proud Boys and a Republican candidate for Congress. She also organized the 2019 Laura Loomer protest at Twitter headquarters after she was banned from the social media platform.
The campaign document also lists DiCiocco as the national director of Bonds for the Win, a bogus legal effort championed by several figures in the QAnon movement. Bonds for the Win says that all government officials must have a private bond to perform their duties – they don’t – and private citizens can file claims against those bonds – they can’t – if those officials pursue policies they deem “unconstitutional”.
DiCiocco is listed as the organizer of a virtual town hall featuring Preston on Wednesday night.
Preston forcibly veered politically to the right in his effort to snatch the Republican nomination from incumbent John Curtis at the state convention. He compared mandates for masks and vaccines to the Nazi extermination of Jews and teamed up with the far-right Utah Patriots militia for a copycat “trucker convoy” in February.
Preston made the ‘big lie’ lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent and stole a centerpiece from his campaign. In a January interview with The Tribune, Preston declined to answer whether Joe Biden was the winner of the 2020 election and whether those elections were free and fair.
“It obviously looks like he (Biden) won that he is in office. Was the election free and fair? I think there are a lot of questions along those lines,” Preston said.
Preston has gone out of his way to pander to Utah election conspiracy theorists who falsely insist there was massive voter fraud, despite the lack of real evidence. He has become a regular at events focused on “election integrity” and has repeatedly shared the stage with former state Rep. Steve Christiansen, who pushed voter fraud lies before resigning from office. Legislative Assembly. He also made public comments at a February meeting of the Utah County Commission calling for an audit of the election results.
In addition to Curtis and Preston, three other Republicans are vying for the party’s nomination in the 3rd District on April 23.
Former State Representative Chris Herrod is running for the third time. Businessman Tim Aalders was beaten by Curtis at the 2020 GOP convention and is running again. Aalders also ran as the Constitution Party’s candidate for the US Senate in 2018, but lost to Mitt Romney. He was an independent candidate for Utah’s 4th congressional district in 2014, receiving 1.4% of the vote, and ran for the US Senate as a Republican in 2012, but was defeated at the convention. Lyman Wight is also on the ballot.
None of the candidates used the signature route to qualify for the ballot this year. This means that if one of the five Republicans in the race gets 60% of the vote, they win the nomination. If no candidate reaches the 60% threshold, the top two qualify for the primary election in June.