Jack Burkman

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Jack Burkman
Born
NationalityAmerican
OccupationPolitical consultant, lobbyist
Known forFalse claims against political figures
Websitebehindthecurtainradio.com

Jack Burkman is an American lobbyist and conspiracy theorist.[2][3] Burkman drew significant media attention in 2014 for organizing a protest against the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL after the team signed Michael Sam, an openly gay football player, to its practice squad.[4][5][6] He is also known for his involvement with far-right conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl in two plots to make false accusations of sexual assault to frame public figures: one against U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller that was reported in October 2018, and one against Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 Pete Buttigieg in April 2019.[7][8][9]

Burkman is the president of the lobbying firm Burkman Associates, LLC and the head of the conservative organization American Decency. He is the host of the Behind the Curtain podcast.

Early life and education[edit]

Burkman was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[1] He was educated at Georgetown University Law Center, where he earned a law degree.[1]

Political activities[edit]

Attempt to frame Robert Mueller[edit]

On October 30, 2018, NBC News and The Atlantic published articles detailing a scheme to falsely accuse U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller of sexual misconduct in 1974. The articles reported that on October 17, 2018, several journalists received emails from a person claiming to be named "Lorraine Parsons" that asserted Burkman had hired a man with Surefire Intelligence, a company created by far-right conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl, to offer her more than $20,000 to sign an affidavit falsely accusing Mueller of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment. "Parsons" told the reporters she had worked with Mueller at the law firm Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in 1974, and that the man from Surefire had asked her to falsely accuse Mueller of engaging in misconduct during that time. Mueller worked at Pillsbury in 1974, but the firm told reporters they had no record of any Lorraine Parsons ever working there. "Parsons" declined reporters' requests to speak on the phone, and none of the reporters published the story until the scheme became evident.[7][8]

On October 31, Burkman tweeted and Wohl retweeted that Parsons did not exist, denying involvement in the matter, and calling it "a hoax designed to distract the nation from [Burkman's] press conference" to be held the next day.[10] Burkman denied knowing "Parsons", although The Atlantic noted that he posted a video on his Facebook page around the same time Taub and "Parsons" began to be contacted by Surefire Intelligence, asserting without evidence that Mueller "has a whole lifetime history of harassing women."[8] Burkman tweeted that at the press conference he would "reveal the first of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's sex assault victims" and "prove that he is a drunk and a sexual abuser."[11][12][13] Wohl and Burkman convened a press conference outside Washington on November 1, ostensibly to present a woman who they said signed an affidavit, which The Gateway Pundit had published, accusing Mueller of raping her in a New York hotel room in 2010—on a date he was contemporaneously reported by the Washington Post to be serving jury duty in Washington.[14] The men accused Mueller's office of "leaking" the eight year-old Post story to discredit their allegations. The purported accuser, Carolyne Cass, did not appear at the press conference as they had initially stated she would, and the men asserted she had panicked in fear of her life and taken a flight to another location.[15][16]

Attempt to frame Pete Buttigieg[edit]

On April 22, 2019, Jack Burkman tweeted "2020 is shaping up to be more exciting than 2016. Looking like it will be Trump vs. Mayor Pete! Get the popcorn ready!"[9]

On April 28, a Medium post emerged under the name of a gay Republican college student, alleging that Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana and a Democratic presidential candidate for 2020, had sexually assaulted him in February. A Twitter account created just a month prior under the student's name also emerged. The next day, The Daily Beast reported that Burkman and Jacob Wohl had tried to convince young Republican men to make false accusations of sexual assault against Buttigieg. One man attested that Burkman and Wohl had tried to convince him to falsely accuse Buttigieg of assaulting him when he was too drunk to consent. According to the source, Burkman and Wohl contacted him under the false identities "Matt Teller" and "Bill", but he recognized Wohl due to Wohl's internet notoriety and decided to record their conversation. He then provided the recording to The Daily Beast, which wrote that it corroborated the man's claims with the aid of an audio forensics analyst who determined that one man in the recording was "highly likely" to be Wohl.[9][17][18][19]

The student who was being impersonated on Medium and Twitter told The Daily Beast that Burkman and Wohl flew him to Washington, D.C. under the guise of speaking about politics from the perspective of a gay Republican, and that he was unaware they were trying to involve him in their scheme. He said that he had to pretend that he was taking a nap in order to escape Burkman's residence, and that they had created the Medium profile and a Twitter profile claiming to be him without his permission.[9][17]

Burkman and Wohl announced that they would be holding a press conference at Burkman's house on May 8 to continue their accusations against Buttigieg. On May 7, Burkman tweeted a link to an event called "Protest Against Homophobic Bigots" and wrote, "Hundreds of leftist protestors are set to descend on our Wednesday Press conference. We WILL NOT surrender to the mob. We’ve called in extra security to guard our safety and that of our partners in the media." The protest was discovered to be fake, organized by Wohl himself, when attendees received confirmation emails containing the email address wohlthinktank@gmail.com, which Wohl had used in the past.[20] Mediaite noted that events may be registered with false contact information, but that Eventbrite would have emailed the address used by the organizer allowing them to delete or edit the event.[21] However, Wohl denied involvement in creating the event page. Eventbrite later took down the event page citing their rules against "inauthentic content".[20]

At the May 8 press conference, Burkman and Wohl displayed footage of the student they had flown to Washington, D.C. drinking a coffee as proof that the student was not being coerced, with Wohl explaining that "Most forced coercion events… do not involve caramel frappuccino." During the press conference, the student released a statement describing Burkman and Wohl as "chronic liars" and stating that he would not be at the press conference as they had claimed. No protesters appeared at the fake protest of the press conference that Wohl himself had attempted to organize.[22]

American Decency[edit]

Burkman heads the organization American Decency, a conservative organization that claims to have 3.62 million members, though this claim is unverified.[23] The organization drew media attention in 2014 when Burkman announced plans to protest the Dallas Cowboys' signing of Michael Sam, the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL.[23][24][25] Burkman called for legislation that would prohibit homosexuals from playing in the NFL, though this proposed legislation was never formally introduced in the House of Representatives and never received a vote.[26]

Seth Rich murder conspiracy theory[edit]

Burkman started investigating the murder of Seth Rich in September 2016 after the Rich family accepted his pro bono public relations services.[27] The Rich family and Burkman held a joint press conference about the murder in November 2016.[27][28] In January 2017, Burkman launched an advertising campaign in Northwest D.C. searching for information regarding Seth's death. This included billboard advertisements and canvassing with flyers.[29][30]

In late February, Burkman started spreading conspiracy theories by telling media outlets that he had a lead that the Russian government was involved in Rich's death,[31] and the Rich family distanced itself from Burkman.[32] In March 2017, Burkman started "The Profiling Project", an independent investigative attempt to solve the murder of Seth Rich with help from forensics students at George Washington University.[33][34] He hired Kevin Doherty, a former U.S. Marine and special agent, to help with the project, although tensions developed when Burkman felt Doherty was speaking to reporters when he shouldn't have been and trying to take control of the project. In July 2017, Burkman fired Doherty and sent him a cease and desist letter. In March 2018, Doherty lured Burkman to a parking garage by claiming to have evidence of FBI misconduct. When Burkman arrived, Doherty shot him in the buttocks and thigh and hit him with an SUV, breaking Burkman's arm. Doherty was sentenced to nine years in prison.[35]

Other activities[edit]

In June 2016, Burkman held an event called "Lobbyists for Trump" and invited all major lobbyists of Washington, D.C. to help raise money for Donald Trump's presidential campaign.[36][37] In July 2016, he helped fundraise for Free the Delegates, an anti-Trump effort to change the delegate rules for the 2016 Republican National Convention.[38] On October 1, 2019, Burkman and Jacob Wohl held a press conference on the front steps of Burkman's home in which they claimed to know the identity of the whistleblower who revealed possible impropriety by President Trump involving Ukraine, though they said they could not release it. The press conference was sparsely attended and described by The Washington Post as another in a series of events in which Burkman and Wohl "routinely announce they have discovered smoking-gun revelations against Trump’s rivals, then humiliate themselves when they fail to produce any evidence".[39] On October 3, 2019, Burkman and Wohl announced a press conference in which they said a 24-year-old former United States Marine would claim he had an affair with Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren; the announcement was met with mockery and disbelief, and generally viewed as another of Burkman and Wohl's false allegations.[40]

On Friday, October 11, 2019, Burkman announced via Twitter that he and Wohl had scheduled a news conference for Monday, October 14. The press release stated that a purported illegal drug dealer would be presented, who would provide evidence that he sold illicit drugs to Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, House Sub-Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and other unnamed members of Congress.[41]

Twitter suspension[edit]

On March 19, 2020, Twitter suspended Burkman's account after he tweeted unevidenced claims about impending nationwide food shortages due to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. A Twitter spokesperson said the account had been suspended for repeated infractions of Twitter rules, including making false statements about COVID-19.[42]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Burkman, Jack. "About". Jack Burkman. Archived from the original on October 9, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  2. ^ Prokop, Andrew (October 30, 2018). "The incredibly shoddy plot to smear Robert Mueller, explained". Vox. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  3. ^ Cummings, William (October 31, 2018). "Jack Burkman: The conspiracy theorist accused of offering money for Mueller allegations". USA Today. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  4. ^ Sieczkowski, Caven (September 4, 2014). "Anti-Gay Group To Protest Michael Sam, Cowboys In The Name Of 'Family Values'". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Voorhees, Josh (February 24, 2014). "Even the Conservative Lobbyist Hyping a Ban on Gay NFL Players Admits It's a PR Stunt". Slate. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  6. ^ Prince, Jeff (September 4, 2014). "Thousands to Protest Cowboys, Michael Sam". Fort Worth Weekly. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Zadrozny, Brandy; Collins, Ben; Winter, Tom (October 30, 2018). "Mueller refers sex misconduct scheme targeting him to FBI for investigation". NBC News. Archived from the original on November 2, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Bertrand, Natasha (October 30, 2018). "Mueller Wants the FBI to Look at a Scheme to Discredit Him". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on November 2, 2018. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d Markay, Lachlan; Poulsen, Kevin; Schachtman, Noah (April 29, 2019). "Far-Right Smear Merchants Gin Up Bogus Sex Assault Claims Against Buttigieg". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  10. ^ Nguyen, Tina (October 31, 2018). "How the Jacob Wohl Saga Explains What's Deranged About MAGA". The Hive. Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on January 17, 2019. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  11. ^ Bertrand, Natasha (October 30, 2018). "Special Counsel Refers Scheme Targeting Mueller to FBI". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  12. ^ "Man Behind Alleged Robert Mueller Sex Assault Hoax: But What About Michael Avenatti?". lawandcrime.com. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  13. ^ Sommer, Lachlan Markay (30 October 2018). "Inside the Crazy Cabal Trying to Smear Robert Mueller". Retrieved 30 October 2018 – via www.thedailybeast.com.
  14. ^ Roberts, Roxanne; Argetsinger, Amy (April 13, 2010). "Reliable Source - Hey, isn't that...?: Robert Mueller summoned to jury duty; Rose McGowan visits the W". Washington Post. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  15. ^ Sommer, Will (November 1, 2018). "Mueller Smear Pushed by Pro-Trump Activists Falls Apart at Press Conference". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on November 2, 2018. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  16. ^ Zadrozny, Brandy (November 1, 2018). "No proof, no victim at news conference alleging Mueller sex assaults". NBC News. Archived from the original on November 1, 2018. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Stafford, Zach (April 29, 2019). "Pete Buttigieg Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault by Far-Right Catfish". The Advocate. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  18. ^ Gilmour, David (2019-04-29). "Questions raised over Pete Buttigieg sexual assault allegation". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  19. ^ Mirkinson, Jack. "World's Biggest Moron Appears to Have Done It Again". Splinter. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  20. ^ a b Sommer, Will (2019-05-07). "Jacob Wohl Caught Staging Fake Protest Against Himself". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  21. ^ Duckham, Jacob (May 7, 2019). "Anti-Jacob Wohl Protest Tied to Jacob Wohl's Email Address". Mediaite. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  22. ^ Sommer, Will (May 8, 2019). "Jacob Wohl Defends Tricking College Kid to Accuse Mayor Pete of Sexual Assault: He 'Got a Caramel Frappuccino'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  23. ^ a b "GOP lobbyist who wants to ban gays from NFL plans Dallas Cowboys protest". LGBTQ Nation. September 4, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  24. ^ Fink, Jack (September 4, 2014). "Protests Planned Over Sam Joining Cowboys". CBS DFW. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  25. ^ Selby, Jenn (September 5, 2014). "Michael Sam first openly gay NFL player: Christian lobby group of 'thousands' set to protest Dallas Cowboys latest signing". The Independent. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  26. ^ Suebsaeng, Asawin (October 1, 2017). "A Notorious, Seth Rich-Conspiracy Pushing, Lobbyist Troll is Paying Folks To Protest the DNC". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  27. ^ a b Shalby, Colleen (May 24, 2017). "How Seth Rich's death became an Internet conspiracy theory". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  28. ^ Guttman, Nathan (March 4, 2017). "Seth Rich's Family Furious At Attorney For Claiming Russia Behind The Murder". The Forward. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  29. ^ "'Who Murdered Seth Rich?': Billboards to be Posted in DC". WRC-TV. January 18, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  30. ^ Searching for clues in the Seth Rich murder. The Washington Post. May 11, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2017 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ Guttman, Nathan (March 1, 2017). "Was Russia Behind Mystery Murder Of DNC Worker Seth Rich?". The Forward. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  32. ^ Kurzius, Rachel (March 2, 2017). "'It's Hurtful': Seth Rich's Family Responds To Latest Conspiracy Theory About His Murder". DCist. Archived from the original on July 14, 2017. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  33. ^ Kurzius, Rachel (March 23, 2017). "GOP Lobbyist Now Opening 'War Room' Dedicated To Solving Seth Rich Murder". DCist. Archived from the original on April 8, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  34. ^ Taylor, Scott (May 25, 2017). "EXCLUSIVE: A look inside 'Profiling Project: Seth Rich'". WJLA. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  35. ^ Weiner, Rachel (December 3, 2018). "Ex-Marine admits he lured Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman to a hotel parking garage, then shot him". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  36. ^ Catanese, David (May 16, 2016). "D.C. Lobbyists Look to Fund Trump". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  37. ^ Morrongiello, Gabby (April 25, 2016). "Former critic plans 'Lobbyists for Trump' fundraiser". Washington Examiner. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  38. ^ Caldwell, Leigh Ann (July 10, 2016). "Anti-Trump Forces Unleash Plan to Pick Vice President at Convention". NBC News. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  39. ^ Selk, Avi (October 2, 2019). "A Trump booster promised to reveal the whistleblower's name from his front yard. The neighbors just laughed". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2019-10-02. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  40. ^ Walker, James (October 3, 2019). "Jacob Wohl mocked after claiming Elizabeth Warren had affair with 24-year-old marine". Newsweek. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  41. ^ {{Site web|url=https://twitter.com/jack_burkman/status/1182710482060435462?s=21
  42. ^ Sommer, Will (March 19, 2020). "Twitter Suspends Conservative Huckster Jack Burkman Over Coronavirus Disinfo". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 21, 2020.

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