The controversial former White House adviser has officially signed on with a new pro-Trump super PAC founded and run by people who have promoted conspiracy theories about the 2016 murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich and outlandish falsehoods regarding a Democratic Party child-rape ring known in the right-wing fever swamps as “Pizzagate.”
In joining the group, dubbed the MAGA Coalition, Gorka has dramatically elevated its profile. But that hasn’t led its members to stop dabbling in urban myths and legends. Reached for comment on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the MAGA Coalition defended its leaders’ efforts to “raise questions” about both human trafficking rings run out of D.C. pizza shops and a murder they deemed mysterious even as police insist it was the result of a botched robbery.
The MAGA Coalition was created to promote Trump’s agenda and “compete against globalist corporatist interests,” according to the group. It is headed by Adam Gingrich—no relation to Newt—who worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in Pennsylvania. Gorka joined the group as a “chief strategist,” Axios reported on Tuesday, not long after his unceremonious ouster from the Trump White House last month.
Gingrich and others associated with the MAGA Coalition have small followings in corners of the right-wing media universe, and have used their online platforms to promote conspiracy theories about Rich. Rich’s murder last year has become a rallying cry for some pro-Trump media voices convinced that he was responsible for the release of hacked emails from the Democratic Party and that, as a result, Hillary Clinton presidential campaign played a role in his death. The Washington, DC, police has consistently dismissed such claims as Rich’s grieving family has begged to be left alone.
“If Seth Rich was African-American, would the DC police get away with hiding body cam and other video footage?” Gingrich wrote on Twitter in July. In another tweet last year, Gingrich amplified WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s suggestion that Rich was his group’s source of hacked emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman. “Who murdered Seth Rich?” Gingrich asked, adding the hashtag “#paranoidhillary.”
After The Daily Beast contacted him for comment, Gingrich made his Twitter account private. A screen grab of his tweets can be seen below.
Gingrich was one of three officers listed on paperwork the MAGA Coalition filed with the Federal Election Commission, two weeks after it had been incorporated in Florida in mid-August. The others were John Kreuger and Carrie Lockhart. On September 11, the group amended its FEC registration to say that Kreuger and Lockhart had both resigned, though the latter was still listed as its treasurer. The amended registration statement also listed a new address for the group: a property in southern Florida, about 25 miles north of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Palm Beach County property records show that that property is owned by Kreuger and his wife: pro-Trump commentator Ann Vandersteel.
“#Pizzagate #Pedophilia … #UnitedNations”
Like Gingrich, Vandersteel has also promoted Seth Rich conspiracy theories, as well as those surrounding the “Pizzagate” controversy. Pizzagate is a wildly popular right-wing rumor (based on zero evidence) that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta was heavily involved in a human-trafficking and child-rape racket, operating in the nation’s capital, with the pizzeria Comet Ping Pong as a hub. The conspiracy theory got so out of hand that in December a gunman showed up at Comet, a family and kid-friendly restaurant, and started firing off multiple rounds.
“#PizzaGate #Pedophilia and #GLOBAL Govt Atrocities. #UN #USA must pull out of the #UnitedNations,” read one of Vandersteel’s characteristically hashtag-heavy tweets from March. “I will NOT be SURPRISED when we learn that [the United Federation of Teachers labor union] has links to #PizzaGate. Very very SICK! #PedoGate,” she said in another the same month.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Kreuger said that he is not affiliated with the MAGA Coalition but had simply helped incorporate the group as a favor to a friend. That friend is Gingrich, who frequently interacts with Vandersteel online and has joined her on internet broadcasts on the conservative website YourVoice America, which was founded by pro-Trump media personality Bill Mitchell.
Lockhart is also a YourVoice employee. And like Vandersteel, she has floated conspiracy theories surrounding “Pizzagate” and Seth Rich. “We need a Nuremberg trial for the obama admin with pizzagate and his many treasonous act !” she tweeted in December.
Reached for comment on Tuesday, Tricia Cunningham, a media coordinator for the MAGA Coalition, greeted a Daily Beast reporter by saying she was doing “Trumptastic, as always!” She then attempted to steer an interview back to the group’s mission of supporting President Trump and like-minded elected officials at the state and federal levels.
Still, Cunningham defended conspiracy theories floated by Gingrich, Lockhart, and Vandersteel.
“As far as Pizzagate, I’ve traveled from Pennsylvania to Washington D.C., and human trafficking is a huge deal,” she said. “So there’s a lot of questions that need to be raised.”
Cunningham also pushed back on suggestions that the Rich family did not want political activists floating conspiracy theories about last year’s murder. “The family has said in the past they don’t want anything to do with a criminal investigation,” she said. “However in light of the last year they have also come out and said they have wanted an investigation.”
The MAGA Coalition makes its big debut…
Why Gorka chose to join MAGA Coalition isn’t entirely clear. Gingrich and others are marginal political figures, with little political track record. Gorka himself has become a high-profile Trump associate. Though his actual policy responsibilities and influence at the White House were sparse, he became the public face of the president’s foreign policy. And it’s not like he didn’t have other job opportunities.
In his weeks since getting pushed out of his White House post, Gorka has been in talks for gigs at Fox News and also a possible nat-sec initiative with fellow former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. Fox News host and informal Trump adviser Sean Hannity had actively pushed for Gorka to land a contributor contract in his post-West Wing life, as The Daily Beast reported last week.
It is not clear if Gorka knew about any of the conspiracy-theory-mongering before he joined as the MAGA Coalition’s top strategist. He did not respond to requests for comment on this story. Neither did Vandersteel or Lockhart.
On Thursday night, Gorka is set to co-headline a rally in Montgomery, Alabama, with former vice presidential contender Sarah Palin. The Palin-Gorka rally—billed as boosting candidate Roy Moore in a high-profile fight against incumbent Sen. Luther Strange—will feature Gorka and co.’s brand new coalition.
And on Laura Ingraham’s radio show on Tuesday, Gorka laid out his vision for this group—and how he could help weaponize it against anti-Trump “fake conservatives.”
“We’re going to be working with the other PACs and the other super PACs out there in a division of labor to continue the MAGA train,” he said. “There are far too many swamp creatures, or future swamp dwellers, who are being supported as candidates, as fake conservatives, out there. So, we’re going to primary them, we’re gonna run people against them. And we’re going to make sure the president has the right team around him, and provide him the ammunition he needs.”
“The swamp is full of monsters,” Gorka warned.