Dark Money Carpetbagger PAC Spends $100,000 on Radio Supporting Morgan Ortagus in TN-5

A new dark money super PAC spent $100,000 in radio ads on Wednesday in support of carpetbagger Morgan Ortagus in the race for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional district seat, according to Federal Election Commission records released on Friday.

The PAC’s name is Tennessee Conservatives PAC and the expenditure was made on April 6. Saturation-level radio ads – at least 20 spots per day – began running on Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC in Nashville and 99.7 WTN in Nashville beginning on Wednesday.

The PAC, which was organized on February 22, 2022 according to FEC records, has yet to release its funding sources. The group’s report for the period ending March 31 will not be made filed with the FEC until April 15. It is common practice for dark money PACs to hide their sources of funding until the latest possible date.

If the money to fund the $100,000 radio ad blitz in support of Ortagus was donated to the PAC after March 31, the group will be able to conceal the sources of funding until July 15, the date at which the quarterly report for the period ending June 30 must be filed with the FEC. The Republican primary for the open TN-5 Congressional seat will be held on August 4, just three weeks after that July 15 filing deadline.

Sources familiar with how dark money PACs operate tell The Tennessee Star it is likely that virtually of the money that has been contributed to the group, ironically named Tennessee Conservatives PAC, came from groups or individuals located outside Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District.

The dark money PAC paid RURAL AM FM LLC, an ad agency out of Grand Rapids, Michigan $101,869.25 to place the media buy, according the the 48 hour expenditure report it filed with the FEC late Friday afternoon. Based on the saturation level buy made at WLAC and WTN, it would appear that this buy was for saturation-level buys in several radio stations around Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District for about a one week period.

The dark money PAC also paid Philadelphia-based Jamestown Associates $1,869.25 for the production costs related to the ad.

Running of ads in support of Ortagus before she has been approved to be on the ballot for the August 4 GOP primary is a highly unusual move.

Ortagus faces two hurdles in being listed as a candidate on the GOP ballot: (1) the three year residency requirement bill passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and currently on the desk of Gov. Bill Lee, awaiting his signature; and (2) the bylaws of the Tennessee Republican Party.

These issues remain unresolved, and may not be resolved until April 21, the date at which the Secretary of State finalizes the ballot for the August 4 primary.

Her candidacy, along with the candidacies of Robby Starbuck, and Baxter Lee, has been challenged by bona fide Republicans who reside in the 5th Congressional District under the bylaws of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Under those bylaws, once challenged a candidate is removed from the ballot, and can only be restored to the ballot after an adjudication hearing held by a 17 member committee of the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee.

One long time Tennessee political veteran sees the dark money’s radio ad as an attempt to intimidate the members of the Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee.

“This radio buy is a blatant attempt to intimidate the SEC,” the political veteran told The Star.

“Ortagus is not even on the ballot and the SEC stands in her way. I am quite familiar with the tactics of Jamestown Associates, having battled against them in the past. You will not find a more arrogant and condescending group of political operatives. Intimidation is their default tactic. They use out-of-state dark money to try and overwhelm their opponents. In this case the opponent is the SEC, make no mistake about that,” the long time Tennessee political veteran noted.

The  Star previously reported that the PAC was reportedly involved in funding the then-threatened lawsuit against the three-year residency legislation which makes Ortagus ineligible for the ballot if enacted into law.

Prior to this expenditure, the PAC had possible connections to Morgan Ortagus. The expenditure now appears to confirm that connection, and raises questions about possible coordination between the PAC and the Ortagus campaign, a practice that is not allowed under FEC rules and regulations, but is commonly skirted or pressed to the edge by dark money PACs and political campaigns.

Charles Gantt of Bulldog Compliance is the treasurer of Tennessee Conservatives PAC and signer of the ads expenditure. Bulldog Compliance is a subsidiary of Red Curve Solutions, an organization that handles the books of many dark money groups. Gantt’s address as PAC treasurer on the document is listed as a Beverly, Massachusetts office building and the PAC’s main mailing address is a Nashville P.O. box.

Red Curve Solutions handles the books for a variety of dark money clients, as well as normal PACs. Red Curve Solutions handles Maverick PAC. The company has handled Maverick PAC’s books since at least 2014. Candidate for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, Ortagus was employed by Maverick PAC during the 2016 election cycle. The PAC supported Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries where she made comments referring to President Trump’s behavior as “disgusting” and said the president “isn’t serious.”

Bradley Crate, the founder of Red Curve Solutions, is listed as the treasure for Maverick PAC. Crate also served as deputy chief financial officer of the Romney for President campaign.

The Star also reported that Morgan Ortagus supporters filed a federal lawsuit challenging the General Assembly-passed legislation that institutes a three-year residency requirement for federal candidates in primaries.

An attorney representing the plaintiffs in the suit is Charles R. Spies of Dickinson Wright PLLC, a former Romney staffer who was on the host committee for the Ortagus campaign’s D.C. fundraiser that was highlighted by Never Trumpers and RINOs. Spies’ wife, Lisa, is a prominent Never Trumper and was the professional fundraiser for the event.

In the suit, the plaintiffs state that the legislation would prohibit them from voting for carpetbagger and D.C. insider, Morgan Ortagus. The complaint says, “Plaintiffs are ready, willing, and eager to vote for Ortagus in the Republican primary to be the party’s nominee for Congress in the 5th Congressional District.”

The lawsuit further says, “If this Provision is enforced and allowed to proceed, Ortagus would no longer be eligible to represent the 5th Congressional District and would be required to suspend her campaign, thereby robbing Plaintiffs of the opportunity to vote for their candidate of choice in the August 4, 2022 Republican primary.”

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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected] Follow Aaron on GETTRTwitter, and Parler.


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5 Thoughts to “Dark Money Carpetbagger PAC Spends $100,000 on Radio Supporting Morgan Ortagus in TN-5”

  1. […] Star previously reported that Charles Gantt of Bulldog Compliance is the treasurer of Tennessee Conservatives PAC. Bulldog […]

  2. Jason

    As someone who fled Los Angeles in recent years I am absolutely voting for Andy Ogles!!!

    I do Not want the clowns I escaped ruining my new life in TN. Morgan is Vile!

  3. Mother Mary

    Morgan Ortagus & Robby Starbuck are both carpetbaggers. Neither of them knows a cotton picking thing about Tennessee. It’s a bad idea to elect carpetbaggers. Liz Cheney is the most famous example. Cheney was a lifelong resident of Virginia, but moved back to Wyoming to run on the basis of name recognition. In my opinion, the dark money funds are coming from democrats. They want more republicans like Cheney, Collins, Romney and Murkowski. Ortagus wouldn’t have to resort to dark money funds if she was genuinely MAGA.

  4. 83ragtop50

    It does not matter how much perfume is sprayed on Ortagus she still smells bad.

    I heard one of her ads on WTN yesterday. I would have never guessed they were describing her if her name had not been uttered what seemed like umpteen times. She needs to go back to D.C. or New York and buy a government job in one of those places where her liberal leanings fit.

  5. Stuart I. Anderson

    There’s a lot of big buck individuals who are out to buy themselves a congressional seat here in the 5th district. If you have big bucks a congressional seat is one of the things you can buy I guess. What makes “Madam NO” stand out from the rest, and a little infuriating at that, is that not only has she helicoptered her pretty self into this community only a few months ago but what anemic record she has shows an all too friendly inclination toward the centrist/tepid conservative end of the Republican Party.

    No reason to panic folks. Hopefully all of these big buck No Record candidates will cancel themselves out and Andy Ogles with his proven conservative record will prevail.