Last week, conservative legal activist Ed Whelan made headlines when he tweeted out a convoluted theory purporting to reveal that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were mistaken. In a series of tweets drawing on Zillow floor plans and grainy photos, Whelan contended that Dr. Ford’s actual assailant was a Kavanaugh “doppelgänger.”
After his tweets were met with widespread condemnation, Whelan apologized and deleted the thread, calling it an “appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment.”
As outlandish as Whelan’s theory seems, he reportedly received assistance in promoting it from the prominent Virginia-based firm, CRC Public Relations — a firm with ties to Vice President Mike Pence. From there, numerous right-wing media outlets picked up Whelan’s theory.
CRC is perhaps best known for its 2004 role in popularizing the group Swift Boat Veterans For Truth’s attacks on John Kerry’s military service record.
CRC counts among its staff Pence’s former press secretary, Katie Hughes. Hughes worked for Pence from July, 2010, to December, 2012. Starting as a press assistant, Hughes then became Pence's press secretary.
Less than two years later, in July of 2014, Hughes joined CRC as a senior account executive.
Both Hughes and CRC President Greg Mueller declined to comment to TYT about the nature of Hughes’ work for CRC and CRC’s work promoting Kavanaugh's nomination.
Although Whelan has denied coordinating with either Kavanaugh or the White House, Whelan is reportedly close friends with both Kavanaugh and the head of the Federalist Society, which helped orchestrate the nomination and is a client of CRC. Whelan is also said to have advised Kavanaugh’s confirmation effort.
Another important client of CRC’s is the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a conservative advocacy group that doled out $1.5 million to launch a pro-Kavanaugh ad campaign. Hughes works for JCN as one of its media contacts.
The Washington Post also reported that Kavanaugh and his allies had been mulling a defense that would concede Ford’s allegation that she was sexually assaulted but assert that someone other than Kavanaugh was the perpetrator.
The controversies currently plaguing CRC are not confined to its role in boosting Kavanaugh. In late September, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s communications advisor, Garrett Ventry, resigned following an accusation of sexual harassment, which he denies. Ventry was a recent hire from CRC and had been coordinating the Republicans’ messaging in response to Dr. Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh, according to a report in NBC News.
CRC has also been linked to the ongoing special counsel's probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign. The company reportedly had registered in 2005 as a foreign agent for the Putin-backed Ukrainian politician, Viktor Yanukovych. Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, pleaded guilty to charges relating to lobbying work he did for Yanukovych. Manafort is presently cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.