Entries in GOP (4)


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


Pima Co. GOP to Raffle Same Type Gun Used to Shoot Rep. Giffords

Tom Williams/Roll Call(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Forget quilts and cookies, the Pima County Republican Party in Arizona is auctioning off a handgun at their next party fundraiser. And not just any handgun -- the same series of pistol that was used in the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabriel Giffords in January.

“Help Pima County get out the vote and maybe help yourself to a new Glock .45. Get yourself a new Glock 23 .40 cal handgun for just 10 bucks -- if your name is drawn. That’s right for just 10 dollars this gun could be yours,” reads the Pima GOP’s flyer that was sent to supporters Aug. 26.

The text is followed by a large photo of the handgun and a note that the gun comes with three 12-round magazines.

“This raffle shows a stunning lack of judgment and sensitivity in raffling of the same make of weapon used in the January shooting,” said Jeff Rogers, the chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party. Pima County includes Tucson. “It’s a slap in the face of a grieving community.”

Rogers said the Glock 23 that the GOP plans to raffle off is a more powerful, more easily concealed version of the Glock 19 used to shoot Giffords.

“If these guys had chosen to raffle off a shotgun or a hunting rifle it might not have gone so nuts on the Internet,” he said. “We’re pretty raw and still on edge down here and it certainly doesn’t help to heal this community.”

Pima GOP’s interim director, Mark Shaw, said “there weren’t any concerns” about the gun raffle until The Huffington Post reported about it Thursday.

“We at the Pima GOP regard gun ownership as a constitutional right and an Arizona tradition,” Shaw said. “We’re just standing on the Second Amendment and we certainly don’t feel like we’re doing something wrong.”

But the former leader of the Pima County GOP told Talking Points Memo he disagrees with his predecessor.

“There’s a woman who has a bullet in the brain and who everybody is wishing a full recovery,” Brian Miller, the immediate past chair of the Pima County GOP told TPM. “I don’t think that raffling off a firearm right now is probably the right way to go.”

Giffords, D-Ariz., is still recovering after being shot in the head by 22-year-old Jared Loughner in January. Six others were shot and killed at the open meeting the congresswoman was holding at a Tucson Safeway grocery store.

Gifford’s spokesman Mike Kimball declined to comment on the gun raffle, saying only that “we don’t, as a congressional office, get involved in political issues at all.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Republicans Beginning Speak Out Against Sarah Palin?

Photo Courtesy - Virginia Sherwood/MSNBC(WASHINGTON) -- When television host and former Florida congressman Joe Scarborough published a scathing op-ed piece in Politico against Sarah Palin on Tuesday, he was not only trying to put a dent in her presidential ambitions. He was also encouraging Republicans to break what has largely been a vow of silence among GOP leaders when it comes to criticizing her.

"The same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private," wrote Scarborough, the host of MSNBC's Morning Joe. "Enough. It's time for the GOP to man up."

Scarborough joined other prominent conservative columnists and political strategists, including Peggy Noonan and Karl Rove, who have raised questions about Palin's presidential prospects, but his comments also show how rare it is for influential Republicans to say anything less than polite about her.

Even Rove, who has voiced criticism of the former Alaska governor in the past, has recently showed signs of softening. In an appearance on Fox News last week, he said that Palin's decision to make several stops in Iowa while on tour for her new book was a wise choice.

"She's going to make three stops out of 16 stops on her book tour -- three stops are going to be in the state of Iowa," Rove said. "That's a pretty smart move if you're thinking about running for president."

It's unclear whether Scarborough's blunt assessment of Palin's, in his words, "dopey dream" of running for president will embolden other prominent Republicans to deliver similar assessments. But at least as far as the field of potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates is concerned, almost everyone is practicing good manners -- especially when it comes to Palin.

All the friendly appearances and niceties of GOP leaders will no doubt seem downright tame six months or a year from now, when many of these Republicans are likely to be in the midst of a scrappy fight for the GOP nomination. And although Republicans may be walking on egg shells around Palin, in particular, Scarborough's op-ed points to deep divisions within the party about the wisdom of choosing her as the nominee.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Authorities Hunt for Mysterious Figure in Veterans Charity Scam

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The man who once rubbed shoulders with GOP political luminaries is now wanted by Ohio state authorities who say the $100 million he raised in the name of a charity for U.S. Navy veterans cannot be located.

He went by the names Bobby Thompson and Ronnie Brittain, but authorities say both were stolen identities. His charity, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, ran its national headquarters in Washington, D.C., out of a post office box at a UPS store.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray charged that this alleged con artist had done "in the charitable sphere what Bernie Madoff did in the investment sphere. It's shocking, and it's discouraging and it's depressing to think so many people wanted to give to veterans and in fact they were giving to this man and his sham organization."

Thompson collected as much as $100 million over the past decade from donors who thought they were contributing to a legitimate veterans service organization, according to Cordray, and 99 percent of the funds are now unaccounted for. He donated more than $200,000 to prominent politicians, mostly Republicans.

Some, like President George W. Bush and the presumptive incoming House Speaker, John Boehner, posed for photographs with him. Others, including a former Ohio Attorney General, initially supported what they believed were his legitimate charitable efforts.

Darryl Rouson, a Florida legislator, initially helped represent the man he thought was Bobby Thompson after he first came under fire in reports by the St. Petersburg Times, the newspaper that first raised questions about the so-called veterans charity.

"He seemed to be a knowledgeable man about politics and community affairs," Rouson told ABC News. "He was engaging, jovial. I had no reason to suspect he was anything other than who he said he was."

Mike DeWine, a former U.S. Senator who is preparing to take over as Ohio Attorney General, was one of many Republicans who took donations from the man who called himself Bobby Thompson. He now says he expects to pursue the case against Thompson with the same vigor as his Democratic predecessor, Cordray.

He conceded in an interview with ABC News that the business of political fundraising is not always as intimate as people believe -- that candidates raise most of their money from people who are, essentially, total strangers.

"Some people who give you money, you just don't know them," DeWine said. "You don't know who they are. You're talking about thousands of people, you don't have a clue who they are. It can be pretty hard to sort all that out. You've got to try."

Now, authorities are trying to sort out Thompson's real identity. And his location.

The person calling himself Bobby Thompson and claiming to be a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy surfaced in Florida in 1998, according to a timeline compiled by the St. Petersburg Times, giving his age as 52 when he registered to vote in Hillsborough County. He formed a Navy veterans' political action committee the next year, and then launched the U.S. Navy Veterans Association as a non-profit veterans service organization in 2002, applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS.

After the St. Petersburg Times began investigating Thompson, a reporter from the newspaper was able to confront "Thompson" outside his Ybor City, Florida duplex in 2009 and conduct an interview with him. Thompson told the paper he was part Choctaw Indian and was from Mississippi. He also said he had a relative in the tribe named Bobby Thompson, "but I'm not him." He also claimed to have joined the Navy underage, but the Navy has no record of his service.

According to Ohio authorities, "Thompson" stole the identity of a man named Bobby Thompson from Washington State. He also had an identity card from the state of Indiana issued under the name of a man from New Mexico named Ronnie Brittain. The real Ronnie Brittain is the head of a veterans group in New Mexico.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio