The Daily Beast reported Monday that noted right-wing smear campaigners Jacob Wohl and lobbyist Jack Burkman have been busy trying to cook up a controversy about Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. The pair have reportedly been trying to recruit Republican men to make sexual assault accusations against Buttigieg, the openly gay Democratic mayor of South Bend, Ind. As with most things Wohl and Burkman touch, the scheme appears to be comically simplistic, deeply cynical, and possibly illegal.
One example of the smear campaign being pushed by the two are the made up accusations posted by Michigan college student Hunter Kelly. In a Medium post Monday, a user with a Hunter Kelly profile made a vague accusation that he was “sexually assaulted by Mayor Pete Buttigieg” in February and promised “[i]n the days and weeks ahead, I will share my full story with the nation.” “That post was tweeted out by David Wohl, Jacob’s father, and quickly re-written by the site Big League Politics, which is known as a landing ground for right wing conspiracy theories,” the Daily Beast notes. Subtle.
The Beast got in touch with the real Hunter Kelly who said the Medium account and the Twitter account associated with it were not his. It appears that Wohl and Burkman simply impersonated Kelly to smear the presidential candidate online. Kelly wrote a Facebook post later Monday titled: “I WAS NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.”
In another instance, a Republican source told the Daily Beast that Wohl and Burkman had approached him trying to get him to come forward with false allegations that Buttigieg had sexually assaulted him when he was too drunk to consent.
The pitch by Wohl and Burkman wasn’t detailed, the source said, but it resembled past attempts by the duo to peddle dubious sexual assault allegations against perceived political foes. It would involve the accuser giving a press conference where he would publicly make his accusations about Buttigieg. The source said Wohl and Burkman seemed to want him to figure out many of the details, including a window of time during which he and Buttigieg were both in Washington, when the fabricated offense may have occurred.
“When the source expressed reluctance, they assured him the scheme would make him wealthy, famous, and a star in Republican politics,” the Beast reports. “Wohl cited the national recognition given to Christine Blasey Ford after she accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault during his confirmation hearings last year.”