GOP candidate funded January 6 riot trip with campaign money

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway / The Daily Beast / Getty

Two months after Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden lost his 2020 race, he joined “Stop the theft” of rioters on the grounds of the United States Capitol– and he paid for the trip with donor money left over from his failed campaign.

Now Van Orden is running again and has already gotten major approvals from top management at GOP House including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Van Orden, a former Navy SEAL and light weather actor, has already recognized attend the rally on January 6, but Many times claimed he had never entered Capitol Park. However, social media posts from the riot suggest this is not true.

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A Facebook image from January 6 shows Van Orden standing on a wall on the Capitol grounds which was inside a restricted area. (The Daily Beast recreated the photo on Friday and confirmed that Van Orden would have had to walk through police barricades to reach this area.)

As for Van Orden’s campaign spending around January 6, it’s unclear how they relate to Van Orden’s presence. Federal Election Commission regulations state that travel expenses must be “directly related to the campaign”. Van Orden – who set aside about $ 4,000 in Washington transportation and hotel costs around Jan.6 for himself, his wife, and a campaign staff member – lost his race in November and did not declare his candidacy in 2022 than in April.

Jordan Libowitz, communications director for the campaign finance watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, questioned the legitimacy of the spending.

“Campaign accounts are not personal slush funds. They should be used for campaign related activities. Trying to overthrow an election you just lost is not an appropriate campaign activity, ”Libowitz told The Daily Beast. “If he were to use his campaign to pay for travel for him and his staff to attend the rally turned insurgency, it would raise serious questions about his compliance with campaign finance laws.”

In one editorial published the week after the Capitol attack, Van Orden claimed he made the trip “for meetings and to defend the integrity of our electoral system”, both “as a citizen and at the behest of my neighbors here in western Wisconsin ”. He did not specify the nature of these meetings and did not respond to questions from the Daily Beast about the trip.

“If it was campaign related meetings, he would have to say so,” Libowitz said. “If it was a personal trip as a private citizen, that’s another matter.”

Van Orden’s editorial went on to call the riot “one of the most tragic incidents in our nation’s history.”

“At no time did I enter the park, let alone the building,” he said.

But that Facebook picture, posted at 5:15 p.m. on January 6, clearly shows Van Orden on the Capitol grounds. And in a Facebook Live video shared earlier in the afternoon from the Washington Mall, one of the candidate’s friends said he was on his way to meet Van Orden, who the friend said was ” on the wall ”and told him he“ had a great place to look.

“I hung up on the phone with Derrick Van Orden. He and a bunch of his frog buddies are on the wall, ”the friend said in the video. “He said he had a… they had a pretty good vantage point of the wall on the left side of the building. So that’s where I’m aiming. He said, ‘Come on. We have a great place to watch. So that’s kind of where I’m aiming.

The video was posted around 2:15 p.m., when the attack was booming. At one point the friend said, “I can see people going up the steps. Apparently the last time I heard they were inside the building at the Senate Gate.

In the editorial, however, Van Orden claimed he “stood on the parapet that lines the perimeter of the pitch and watched what should have been an expression of free speech turn into one of the incidents. most tragic in the history of our nation. “

He left, he said, when it became evident that “a demonstration had turned into a crowd”, fearing that his presence “could be interpreted as tacit approval of this illegal conduct”.

Tucker Carlson bizarrely suggests the Capitol uprising was orchestrated by the FBI

Van Orden’s presence at the Capitol puts him in collusion with a slew of political hopes who witnessed the insurrection and have since candidacies declared for office. What sets Van Orden apart, however, is his support of powerful House Republicans and his solid performance in last year’s election. He lost around 2.5 points to longtime incumbent Ron Kind (D-WI), who has held the seat since 1997. After the election, Van Orden interrogates the vote count.

Van Orden’s 2022 offer has already been drawn major endorsements. Since April, he has gained support from McCarthy, as well as House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and new conference chair Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY). McCarthy, Scalise and Stefanik all opposed the election results, as did two Republican Congressmen from Wisconsin who also backed Van Orden — Rep. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Scott Fitzgerald.

This tight race of 2020, what kind described as “competitive from day one”, also attracted a record number of campaign contributions. Federal disclosures show Kind raised around $ 3 million, and Van Orden took in nearly $ 2 million, which is the district’s biggest gain. at least 20 years. The bout nearly exhausted both campaigns, and by the end of the year Van Orden had around $ 12,500 left.

He spent about a third of it on the trip to what would become the Capitol Riot.

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