Some prominent Maryland Republicans say they are standing by GOP operative David N. Bossie, the state party’s national committeeman, who is facing harsh criticism and a call for an investigation by President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Bossie’s organization, the Presidential Coalition, has been under fire since Axios reported last week that the group was raising millions of dollars using Trump’s likeness but failing to distribute much of the donated money to conservative candidates as promised. Instead, Bossie’s group spent much of the money on other costs, some of which benefited Bossie — a Trump ally and former adviser, and a major GOP donor — personally, Axios reported.
“Bottom line: vulnerable voters are getting misled, and limited financial resources are being diverted away from more effective political organizations—or from President Trump’s own campaign,” wrote the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, which collaborated with Axios on its report.
Bossie’s group raised about $18 million from 2017 to 2018 after promising donors it was “laser focused on growing the Republican ‘farm team’ to support President Trump’s conservative agenda in ways big and small.” But Axios and the Campaign Legal Center reported that only $425,442 of the $15.4 million that Bossie’s group spent over the past two years — about 3 percent — went to supporting conservative political candidates.
In response, the Trump campaign condemned “any organization that deceptively uses the President’s name, likeness, trademarks, or branding and confuses voters.”
“We encourage the appropriate authorities to investigate all alleged scam groups for potential illegal activities,” a statement from Trump’s campaign said without mentioning Bossie’s group by name.
In a statement, Bossie defended his record, noting the organization’s contributions to Maryland political campaigns.
“The Presidential Coalition is proud of the support we've given to state and local candidates in Maryland and across the country since 2005 and we're not going to let left-wing smear merchants slow us down,” Bossie said. “We work day in and day out in support of the Trump Agenda, whether it's our Freedom of Information Act litigation working to discover the origins of the fake Russian dossier or amicus briefs on issues like illegal immigration, the census, and the Bladensburg Cross.”
Several top Maryland Republicans said they are standing by Bossie, a Montgomery County resident and volunteer firefighter who helped orchestrate the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that allowed nonprofits to spend an unlimited amount of money on federal elections.
Dirk Haire, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, said Bossie’s status as the state party’s national assemblyman is unchanged. He declined to comment further.
State Del. Kathy Szeliga, a Baltimore County Republican who is the minority whip, said she believes Bossie is the victim of a smear campaign.
“I've known Dave Bossie for many years. Dave is a true patriot and conservative leader who made history defending free speech in the landmark SCOTUS case Citizens United,” Szelia said in a statement. “I am not surprised that the liberal establishment is attacking him as we approach the next election. He has been very effective in helping elect President Trump and other conservative candidates across the country.”
Del. Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel Republican who is House Minority Leader, said he didn’t know the details of the allegations against Bossie, but called him a “generous” donor.
“I don’t know if there’s merit to those claims, but I can say he’s been one of the best supporters of Republican candidates in Maryland,” Kipke said. “He’s been a good friend and supporter.”
Likewise, state Sen. Michael Hough, a Frederick County Republican, said Bossie’s group has been helpful to conservatives in the state, frequently contributing to GOP campaigns, including his own.
“In Maryland, they’ve been great,” Hough said of Bossie’s organization. “Dave has been very supportive of Republican candidates. He’s been one of the top supporters financially for our candidates.”
Hough said Bossie contributed to the GOP’s “Drive For Five” campaign, which sought, unsuccessfully, to pick up five seats in the state Senate last year.
“The story nationally doesn’t reflect what I know of him and his help for the Maryland Republican Party,” Hough said. “He’s absolutely been a great asset to the Maryland Republican Party.”
But Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, said Bossie should pay back all donors who feel scammed.
"Trump and Bossie deserve each other. It appears that the two are made of the same cloth, and have scammed vulnerable people in order to finance their lifestyles and deceptive organizations,” Rockeymoore Cummings said. “I hate that the organization’s donors have been taken advantage of. The Presidential Coalition should reimburse contributors who feel that they have been misled.”
Bossie won his Maryland GOP leadership seat in 2016 when he beat Louis Pope, a former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, who had held the position since 2004. State committee members are voting members of the national Republican Party, and help to establish the party's platform and the rules for the nominating convention.
Bossie is a former chief investigator for what is now the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and led Republican investigations of Democratic President Bill Clinton's administration, including the Whitewater controversy and a scandal involving political donations from agents of the Chinese government.
He has deep ties to the Trump operation, previously serving as deputy campaign manager and deputy executive director for Trump’s transition.