Dear Election Police: make Rick Nolte account for $7,567.39 of "shirt," "sign," and "marketing" campaign spending
Ron DeSantis' endorsee Rick Nolte bought shirts for $2,718 and $1,664 from: 1) a Missouri company that doesn't sell shirts and 2) a Lakeland company with just a P.O. Box. That's just the start.
Images may truncate this article in email. Be sure to click through to the actual post on the website if it does. For state and national readers, this is a local election story with great state and national implications, in my view.
James Dunn, the criminal, church-cheating campaign manager for CCDF1 Polk County school board candidates Jill Sessions and Terry Clark, charged those candidates $7500 each for his services.
Terry Clark claimed in a July 8 email that School Board-member elect Rick Nolte, also a CCDF candidate, was also “using” Dunn as his campaign manager. See below.
But Nolte, who was the only Polk school board candidate endorsed by Ron DeSantis, never reported any payment to Dunn.
What Nolte did report by the time of Clark’s July 8 email were three vague payments totaling $5,903.07 to a company called Summit Printing in Kansas City, Missouri for “signs,” “marketing,” and “shirts,” respectively.
Nolte then reported a fourth strange, vague payment, on the last day of June, of $1,664 for “shirts” to a company called Legion Marketing, which does not exist, at least not by that name. (More on that in a moment.)
When you add those four payments together, you get $7,567.39 — which almost exactly matches James Dunn’s $7500 fee. Sessions and Clark paid that fee to Dunn openly and directly in full in June.
You’ll have to decide if you think that’s a coincidence. I will be providing a timeline below to help you decide.
“Summit” doesn’t sell shirts; “Legion” doesn’t exist.
First, however, there is one massive oddity about the Nolte campaign’s $2,718.67 expenditure on “shirts” with Summit Printing of Kansas City, Missouri. See if you can spot the oddity in this transcript of a voicemail I received Friday from Summit. Note the part in bold.
Hi this is David with Summit Printing. You called on tee-shirts. Yeah, we don’t print any shirts or embroidery or anything like that. Sorry. Again, this is David from Summit Printing.
Let’s say it again: on June 5, 2022, Polk County School Board Member-elect Rick Nolte reported spending $2,718.67 on “shirts” with Summit — which doesn’t sell shirts.
In case you’re wondering, knowingly filing a false campaign expenditure report violates Florida statute 106.07 and is a first degree misdemeanor.
Nolte has not responded to any email request for comment.
This expenditure on shirts with a vendor that does not sell shirts was the first that Nolte campaign made after repaying Nolte’s felony $5,200 cash loan (which the state considers a “contribution” ) to his campaign.
Just a few weeks later, on June 30, Nolte spent another $1,664.32 on “shirts” with something called “Legion Marketing” that appears not to exist.
The PO Box is owned by “Ligon Marketing” and Cora Ligon, who appears to be the merchandise provider for the so-called County Citizens Defending Freedom. More detail on that in the timeline.
All in all, Nolte says he spent $5,258 on “shirts” with three different vendors, one of which doesn’t sell shirts and one of which doesn’t exist.
So where are the shirts?
Cash, shirts, signs, and criminal campaign manager James Dunn: a Rick Nolte timeline
I think this timeline will speak for itself. I hope it will be a useful tool for any law enforcement officer or prosecutor or “election police” who chooses to do his or her job.
Nolte campaign pays “Team Hammer” $481.50 for “T-shirts for campaign.” That seems completely normal and legitimate.
Nolte lends his campaign $5,200 in cash, which appears to be a felony. See article here.
The Nolte campaign pays Summit Printing of Kansas City $2,171.71 for “signs.” It’s unclear if that price includes shipping. But shipping your signs 1,200 miles from Missouri to Florida seems wildly expensive and inefficient.
Nolte campaign pays Team Hammer another $395 for “T-shirts.” Again, that’s a very reasonable campaign shirt expenditure, with a real vendor.
Nolte campaign pays Lakeland’s Dixie Signs $829.25 for “road signs.” The difference between the Dixie “road signs” and the Summit “signs” is not clear to me.
Nolte campaign pays Summit Printing in Kansas City, MO another $1,012 for “marketing.” It’s not clear what specific service or product “marketing” refers to.
The Nolte campaign pays back $5,200 to Rick Nolte, which is the exact amount of the illegal cash loan from March.
The Nolte campaign pays Summit, the Kansas City company, $2,718.67 for “shirts.” Summit does not advertise shirts on its web page or sell them at all, according to the voicemail I received when I inquired. I shared that with you above.
The day after Nolte’s “shirts” payment to a company that doesn’t sell shirts, Jill Sessions’ campaign, one of three in a CCDF slate that includes Nolte, pays $7,500 to James Dunn — the convicted criminal, church-cheating, 6-PPP loan collecting campaign manager that the CCDF recruited from Texas to help its candidates.
The Terry Clark campaign, the third member of the CCDF slate, pays James Dunn $750. More would come soon.
The Terry Clark campaign pays Dunn $6750, which matches the $7500 total for Sessions.
Nolte joins Sessions and Clark at a CCDF candidate “meet and greet” that Dunn organized and promoted. There’s no record of any in-kind donation to Nolte from Dunn for this. Nolte is wearing the black and yellow shirt in the picture.
I write my first article about James Dunn’s criminal background. Dunn becomes an important campaign issue. Both CCDF candidates who openly hire him will go on to lose.
The Nolte Campaign pays “Legion Marketing” of Lakeland $1,664 for more “shirts.” “Legion Marketing” does not appear to exist. Its PO Box 6627 is owned by “Ligon Marketing” and Cora Ligon. Perhaps Nolte cannot spell? Ligon Marketing also has an address at 4404 South Florida Avenue.
That is the same address the CCDF gives to people who want to buy and pick up its merchandise — including shirts. So, to recap: “Legion” doesn’t exist; but “Ligon” does. It owns the “Legion” PO Box and is closely tied to the CCDF. It seems to be a vendor, unlike Summit, that actually sells shirts. Someone should see if “Ligon” produced any campaign shirts for Nolte.
At this point, at the end of June, if you add up all money the Nolte campaign spent on Summit and Legion/Ligon dating to 3/24, it comes to exactly: $7,567.39. Sessions and Clark, in June, both paid Dunn exactly $7,500.
Neither of other two CCDF candidates used Summit or Legion or Ligon for anything. In fact, as I scroll through their expenditures, I don’t see anything — other than the $7500 for their criminal campaign manager — that seems unusual or noteworthy in Sessions or Clark’s reports.
Open campaign finance weirdness is a Rick Nolte-specific issue.
The Ledger reports on a criminal, anonymous text campaign against outstanding incumbent School Board Member Lisa Miller. The texts invent and spread lies about her and her husband. Miller is running against Dunn’s client Jill Sessions and Dell Quary.
The Polk State Attorney’ Office is supposedly investigating the illegal texts against Lisa. I have my doubts.
A week after The Ledger article about illegal, lying texts, Terry Clark sends a message to his supporters praising the criminal church-cheater James Dunn and declaring flatly: “Jill Sessions and Rick Nolte are also using him.” The email adds: “[Dunn] has already had 20 thousand plus texts sent out all over the county.”
The Nolte campaign pays Dixie Signs of Lakeland $513 specifically for “10 4 x 8 signs.” As with the April 20 payment for “road signs,” the Nolte campaign is far more specific in documenting its payments for signs to Dixie Signs than it is to Summit.
The Nolte campaign pays Summit of Kansas City $1,425.07 for “signs”. That’s a total of $7,328.14 paid to Summit, in Kansas City, Missouri, for one-word descriptors — “signs,” “shirts,” and “marketing” combined.
Gov. Ron DeSantis endorses Nolte. (I think the 12th is when I learned about it — may be off a day or two.) DeSantis didn’t do much for Nolte — never said Nolte’s name in a live setting. But Nolte used the endorsement on texts, etc. There’s no indication the DeSantis endorsement moved any election needle in the election. Generic partisanship + Dunn seem to be the core determining factors based on close analysis of the data.
The Nolte campaign receives the first of 10 illegal cash contributions of $100 between 8/12 and 8/16. Each one is a misdemeanor. Nolte later says in a letter to Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards:
I did not realize that the cash maximum contribution to my campaign was $50 cash per person. I thought it was $100. After reporting the 10 $100 donations it was brought to my attention. I have now, since realizing this mistake returned $50 cash to each of the 10 donors. Please accept my apologies for this mistake and let me know if there is anything further, I should do to correct my error.
The Nolte campaign receives $1,000 contribution from a PAC called “Education for All” largely funded by the Sugar industry. That same PAC funded some gross mailers for Nolte.
The Nolte campaign pays Dixie Signs in Lakeland $1,471 for non-specific “signs.” It is unclear why the Nolte campaign uses two different sign vendors — one in Lakeland and one in Kansas City, Missouri less than three weeks apart.
Nolte narrowly defeats incumbent School Board Member Sarah Fortney in what is overall a terrible GOP performance in School Board races. Clark and Sessions, the CCDF crank candidates who used Dunn openly, both lose to incumbent board members. But Sessions does make the runoff with Lisa Miller.
Nolte sends this note to Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards acknowledging his 10 misdemeanor cash contributions.
Will law enforcement do its job, even if it embarrasses DeSantis and other prominent people? I doubt it.
Right now, in the 2022 Polk County School Board campaign, we know this:
Terry Clark and Jill Sessions openly hired a criminal, church-cheating grifter named James Dunn to run their school board campaigns.
Terry Clark said in writing on July 8 that Nolte was using Dunn, too.
Illegal, criminal texts targeted Lisa Miller; and Clark said in writing that Sessions’ criminal campaign manager had sent “20 thousand plus” texts. These were reported to the Polk State Attorney’s office for investigation and prosecution back in late June and early July.
Rick Nolte has admitted to 10 campaign misdemeanors and is silent on the clear felony, about which I have filed a formal complaint with the Florida Elections Commission.
Rick Nolte reported paying $2,718.67 for shirts to a Missouri company that does not sell shirts. If that’s not some sort of “accident” with an innocent explanation, it’s a first degree misdemeanor.
Nolte’s vaguest, sketchiest expenditures through June 30 total $7,567.39 — almost precisely the same $7,500 fee Clark and Dunn paid in June to the criminal James Dunn.
Gov. Ron DeSantis endorsed Rick Nolte. The governor owns him politically — what Nolte’s already admitted to and anything else that might be found.
I want to address State Attorney Brian Haas and one of his top prosecutors, Brad Copley, directly. I have reason to believe one or both may read this.
Ron DeSantis does not see law enforcement as a tool of justice and civic order. He sees it and uses it as a weapon for his own personal advancement and neutralization of critics. His behavior on this is very clear.
A serious investigation of what I just bulleted will embarrass the hell out of Ron DeSantis politically. It will be weaponized against him politically. I will weaponize it. He will deserve it.
And that is why no one I talk to thinks anything will happen. Justice and morality are irrelevant to DeSantis’ view of his power — as I suspect both of you know.
If you guys go after those bullets aggressively, there’s a reasonable chance Ron DeSantis removes you from office, with his uniformed campaign do-boy Sheriff Grady Judd at his side — just like he did Andrew Warren in Hillsborough County. Just like he did for Broward School Board members. Just like he’s going to do for other school board members and officials he doesn’t like or sees as hostile to his unfettered ambition.
This scandal, fully investigated and reported on, will embarrass Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, who is the undisputed leader of the Republican party in Polk County and who has had ample chance to smash these small-time cranks and grifters. Instead, he’s played furtive footsie with book banners and Capitol Lynch mob supporters and cranks of all kinds for the better part of two years now.
He can barely muster a mild criticism of the cranks’ collective “decision-making ability.” He’s not investigating this either, I assure you.
This scandal, fully investigated and reported upon publicly, will likely embarrass the entire GOP power structure in this county, which has allowed it to happen. And it will embarrass prominent families and sources of capital in Polk County — you can scroll through the crank-slate’s contributions to see their names.
Again, those are all reasons to expect the official state agents of order and justice in our community to do absolutely nothing except green-light this crankitude and criminality forever.
Prove me wrong.
County Citizens Defending Freedom, Polk County’s version of “Moms for Liberty.”