Entries in Fundraiser (5)


Prominent Utah Republican Fundraiser Arrested on Rape Charges

Flickr/Michael.Jolley(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A prominent Republican fundraiser has been arrested on numerous rape charges in Salt Lake City.

Gregory Nathan Peterson, an active fundraiser for conservative politicians in Utah, was charged Wednesday with a number of violent crimes, including  21 charges of rape, forcible sexual abuse and battery, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, one charge of assault and one charge of felony burglary, court documents reveal.

The charges stem from alleged attacks on four women between March 2011 and April 2012. Two of the alleged attacks occurred at the cabin where Peterson, 37, held political fundraisers.

One woman listed in an affidavit filed by the Salt Lake City District Attorney’s office says she met Peterson at a church activity, where he invited her to see a movie. However, she alleges, Peterson drove in the opposite direction of the theater, and told the woman he was taking her to his cabin in Heber, in a neighboring county. He told her he had a gun, and hit her when she rejected his sexual advances. Once at the cabin, the woman says Peterson raped her throughout the night, and drove her to her car the next morning.

Peterson met the other three alleged victims online, according to court papers. He took one of the women to his cabin, and then to his mother’s house; he allegedly raped her at both places. The other two women told authorities Peterson raped them in their own homes.

“The allegations of these four women are more than sufficient for us to move forward with charges against Peterson,” Sim Gill, Salt Lake City District Attorney, told ABC News.

Peterson has been active in fundraising for Utah Republican candidates for years, including Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz and others, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. He was listed as an event chair for a 2007 Mitt Romney campaign event, held at the Romneys’ Utah home, and has donated thousands of dollars to Romney’s campaign.

Peterson is a Nebraska native, and Brigham Young University alum, ABC News affiliate ABC4 reports. He currently owns and operates Peterson Wealth Management.

The cabin where the alleged rapes took place was the site of the Rocky Mountain Conservatives Convention and Barbeque, which Peterson called the “CPAC of the West,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Last year, the second year of the event, nearly 300 people attended.

Politicians who may have benefited from Peterson’s fundraising are distancing themselves from him now, ABC4 reports:

“Mr. Peterson was not involved in the campaign or in getting him elected,” Sen. Mike Lee’s office said in a statement.

“Mr. Peterson has no formal affiliation with the Governor’s campaign, nor has he ever,” Governor Gary Herbert’s office said. “In fact, the Governor declined Mr. Peterson’s invitation this past spring.”

Peterson presented himself as a “close personal friend” of the Romney family. Photos of Mitt Romney and Peterson together show they have met, and Peterson claimed to have befriended two of Romney’s sons at BYU, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

In a statement, the Romney campaign denied Peterson is close with the candidate.

“We are appalled at this situation,” the Romney campaign said. “He hasn’t been associated with our campaign since 2007. And you can believe he won’t be, going forward.”

There had been rumors circulating of improper conduct on the part of Peterson several months ago, a Utah state delegate told the Salt Lake Tribune. Brandon Beckham, who had worked with Peterson, told the paper he had warned GOP candidates to stay away from Peterson after he learned of the allegations months before any charges were filed.

Another conservative activist who knew Peterson, Darcy Van Orden, told the Salt Lake Tribune she found the allegations disturbing, but isn’t surprised.

“I believe in innocent until proven guilty,” Van Orden told the paper, “but having talked to several people and heard a lot of allegations about this for basically the last six months, I was kind of waiting to see this thing play itself out.”

There were initially five women who came forward, but, Gill said, the DA’s office felt they could only meet the burden of proof for filing charges in four of the cases.

“What we have is at least four women, maybe more, who have suffered serious trauma,” Gill told ABC, “and that’s the important thing here. I don’t care if you’re a Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Communist, whatever, we will prosecute you if you engage in criminal acts like this in this county.”

It is unclear whether Peterson has a lawyer yet. He is currently being held on $75,000 bail, and is due in court on Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Hails the ‘Miami Heats’

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(MIAMI) -- Unfazed by a partisan spat sparked by his comment on former Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis, President Obama Tuesday night opined on a professional sports team again, publicly praising the NBA champion Miami Heat at a campaign fundraiser in the city.

The only problem this time was that Obama mispronounced the name of the team -- referring to it as the “Miami Heats."

At the top of his remarks at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach, Obama said his public recognition of dignitaries and special guests would be “incomplete if I did not congratulate the city of Miami for having the world champion Miami Heats here in town.”

“You guys earned it,” Obama said as the crowd applauded.

“And since one of my favorite people is [sic] Alonzo Mourning is here and Tracy Mourning,” he added. “I just want to give them a special shout out. Alonzo looks like he can still play. Hasn’t aged a bit … looks the same, except he doesn’t have a flat top.”

Mourning, 42, spent 15 years in the NBA playing longest for the Miami Heat.

At an event in Boston on Monday night, Obama ribbed donors for the trade of beloved Red Sox third baseman Youkilis to his adopted hometown team the Chicago White Sox: and the crowd ribbed him right back.

“Boston, I just want to say, thank you for Youkilis,” Obama told the crowd, drawing a mix of boos -- which Team Obama claimed were "Youks!" -- and laughter. “I’m just saying, he had to change the color of his socks.”

The remark drew a rebuke from Republicans, who seized on the boos as a sign of Obama’s alleged insensitivity to his audiences.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


LGBT, Latino Donors Show Obama Love for ‘Marriage Equality’

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama for the first time adopted the language of same-sex marriage advocates Monday, explicitly telling a crowd of LGBT and Latino donors in New York City that his support for “marriage equality” is a reason he deserves a second term.

“The announcement I made last week about my views on marriage equality -- on principle, the basic idea that I want everybody treated fairly in this country. We have never gone wrong when we have expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody,” Obama said.  “That doesn’t weaken families, it strengthens families. It was the right thing to do.”

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The crowd of around 200 supporters, who each paid $5,000 or more to attend, burst into loud applause.

Obama last week revealed in an interview with ABC News that he had reversed longstanding personal opposition to same-sex marriages after a period of reflection and conversation with family and colleagues. Later, in speeches at three West Coast fundraisers, he referred to the marriage issue, but only obliquely.

At Monday night’s event, Obama cast his position on gay rights as part of a host of issues on which there is a stark contrast between him and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whom he suggested is more extreme than his opponent of four years ago.

“This choice is going to be as important as any choice we’ve made for a very long time -- in some ways more important than 2008, because we’ve got a very clear contrast this time,” Obama said. “John McCain believed in climate change, and believed in immigration reform. On some issues, there was a sense of independence. What we’ve got this time out is a candidate who said basically he’d rubber stamp a Republican Congress that wants us to go backwards instead of forward on a whole range of issues.”

The president said the debate over the next five months would center on taxes, spending and the trade-offs involved in cuts to both.

“I think the American people are on our side with this,” Obama told the crowd. “The only thing holding us back is that things are still tough out there.”

Of the Republican case against him, Obama said, “Their message is very simple: you’re frustrated, you’re dissatisfied and it’s Obama’s fault.”

“This is going to be a tough race, a tight race, and nobody should be taking this for granted,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fundraiser Held for Model Recovering from Propeller Accident

ABC News(PLANO, Texas) -- Friends and community members came out for a fundraiser Tuesday night to assist model and fashion editor Lauren Scruggs with her medial bills after an accident with a plane propeller sliced off her hand and left her face disfigured.

The event, which took place at Sambucco 360 in Plano, Texas, featured a silent auction where local businesses donated gifts including a pearl necklace and earrings, while a local restaurant donated a cocktail party for 12.

"Tonight is about celebrating -- it is about celebrating that Lauren Scruggs is going to come back 10 times stronger than she was before this accident," LeeAnne Locken, the night's emcee, told the crowd gathered on Tuesday.

Scruggs was badly injured on Dec. 3 when she walked into a moving plane propeller that sliced through her face, shoulder and left hand.  She had just gotten off of the plane where she was viewing Christmas lights from above with a friend.

The communications graduate, who worked on the set of the hit TV series Gossip Girl, has been in severe pain since the accident and on Dec. 15 doctors performed surgery to remove her left eye.  Through it all, Scruggs and her family have remained positive, as she makes strides in her recovery -- walking, biking, even picking out her clothes and dressing herself.

"I'm really here for them -- it's a difficult time for them -- Lauren's got a long road ahead in recovery -- they're just a genuine family," attendee Eric Krisher said Tuesday night.

"By the grace of God, Lauren is doing amazingly well.  It is truly a miracle to think of how far she has come in such a short amount of time," Janee Harrell, Scruggs' friend told ABC News.  "Her mind and her outlook and her spirit is amazing … her beauty is truly from within."

Scruggs is working hard on occupational therapy now, and her pain is getting better every day.  Her family continues to pray that it will keep improving, and they say she is looking for natural alternatives to the pain medication she is on now.

Tuesday night's fundraiser reportedly raised over $10,000 for Scruggs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lady Gaga Attends Obama Fundraising Event

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(ATHERTON, Calif.) -- Lady Gaga was among the guests at a $35,800 per couple Obama fundraiser Sunday night at the home of Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and David Goldberg in Atherton, Calif.

At the event, which took place under a tent in Sandberg’s yard, a source said Gaga asked a question during the Q&A session. She first thanked the president for what he’s accomplished, then read from what she said was a letter from a fan about the suicide of another fan who had been subjected to bullying.

She thanked Obama for hosting his anti-bullying conference with Michelle Obama, and then made a general plea to everyone in the room, including the president, to do what they can to prevent bullying.

Obama thanked her, spoke about his administration’s anti-bullying campaign, and then more generally about the importance of values and who we are as Americans.

Before the dinner, Gaga came through the photo line with her manager. She and Obama reportedly spoke for two minutes, with many others in the room.

Gaga’s attendance at the fundraising event comes after the singer tweeted that she would be meeting the president and intended to discuss youth bullying with him in relation to the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old student who took his own life last week after years of bullying.

“I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it. Trend it #MakeALawForJamey,” the singer posted to twitter.

Gaga dedicated the song “Hair” to Rodemeyer at the iHeartRadio Festival this weekend in Las Vegas. The performance included a video tribute to Rodemeyer.

Earlier in the week, the pop singer, who Rodemeyer idolized, spoke out about the situation via twitter: “The past days I’ve spent reflecting, crying, and yelling. I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someones life.”

She added, “Bullying must become illegal. It is a hate crime.”

Rodemeyer took his life on Sept. 18. In his final Twitter message he referenced Lady Gaga, writing “thank you for all you have done.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio