Pres. Trump’s legal battle to overturn the election is being supported by a team of consultants that hails largely from the orbit of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), federal documents show.
Romney has been the most outspoken Republican critic of Trump’s lies about the vote, but he has also been a significant backer of the team that is now administering the money fueling Trump’s legal efforts. Trump on Wednesday was to attend a Pennsylvania hearing held by Republican state lawmakers on alleged voting impropriety.
Trump’s legal teams have been targeted for their role in his post-election efforts. The Lincoln Project reportedly urged people to “ask [Trump’s lawyers] how they can work for an organization trying to overturn the will of the American people.” But no one has asked the same question of the organizations making that work possible.
The Romney connections and corporate backing of the Republican National Committee (RNC) are well known. Romney’s niece Ronna McDaniel runs the RNC, but famously split with him over loyalty to Trump. However, both the RNC and Romney himself have funneled cash as recently as this year to the other organizations behind Trump’s legal campaign.
Donations to Trump’s legal efforts get divvied up between the RNC and three other committees: the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, Save America, and Donald J. Trump for President. All three are run through the same firm: Red Curve Solutions, of Beverly, MA. The founder and head of Red Curve is Bradley T. Crate, treasurer of the Trump campaign.
Crate and many of his staff at Red Curve, however, come from Romney world. Crate was a staffer on Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign and rose through the ranks in subsequent years, also working at the statehouse before founding Red Curve. During the 2012 Romney campaign, Red Curve was one of several firms with Romney ties that drew attention for the money they raked in.
That pattern is apparently still alive, despite Romney’s split with McDaniel. Both Romney world and the RNC have funnelled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Red Curve during this campaign, in addition to previous spending.
During the 2012 election, for instance, Romney paid Red Curve $1.4 million in consulting fees related to election-law compliance.
And Crate continues to serve as treasurer for several Romney organizations, all based at Red Curve, including Romney’s Utah Senate campaign and the vestiges of his previous presidential ambitions.
Romney for President, for instance, only filed its termination papers in September. And despite the fact that Romney didn’t run this year, Romney for President paid Red Curve more than $36,000 this cycle.
(Romney for President ultimately sold its mailing lists to Newsmax and Granite Lists, another company owned by a Romney veteran.)
Red Curve is still employed by four other Romney organizations: Romney for Utah, the Friends of Mitt joint fundraising committee, and two political-action committees: Team Mitt and Believe in America. Donations to Believe in America include $10,000 on Sept. 22 from Bill and Melinda Gates.
These organizations move money to each other -- and to companies controlled by Crate and other Romney veterans. Although Romney voted to impeach Pres. Trump, he continued to funnel money to Red Curve even after it became the home of the Patriot Legal Expense Fund, set up to aid those targeted by the Mueller investigation and congressional probes.
On Sept. 1, Romney for President transferred $54,755 to Romney for Utah. Friends of Mitt gave Romney for Utah $31,000, and another $81,000 to Believe in America. On top of the money Red Curve got from Romney’s presidential campaign, Red Curve and affiliated companies took in $99,500 from the other four Romney groups this cycle alone.
Red Curve, in turn, employs companies controlled by other Romney veterans, including Granite Lists, Targeted Victory, and Buckminster Strategies.
Another company with ties to Red Curve has other ties to Romney. In 2012, it was reported that Romney paid more than $1.58 million for air travel to a firm called Easterly Capital, which was registered to Crate, who was the notary public for the firm’s public filings.
What was not reported at the time was that Easterly’s co-founder was Crate’s brother, Darrell Crate, who was not only a former GOP chairman in Massachusetts, he was also treasurer of Romney’s 2006 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
Another Romney veteran who helps run Red Curve is Senior Vice President Charles Gantt, a senior financial analyst for the 2012 Romney campaign and now a behind-the-scenes fixture of Trump’s efforts. Gantt is the chief financial officer of Trump for America, and the founder of America First Action, the official pro-Trump Super PAC that supported Trump’s re-election.
Like Bradley Crate, Gantt receives no payment for his roles on these committees. But money flows to their firms. America First Action, for instance, has paid more than $75,000 during this cycle to a Red Curve company called Bulldog Compliance.
Donald J. Trump for President and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee have paid Red Curve several million dollars.
Trump for America’s tax filings for this campaign are not yet available, but in 2017 it reported paying Red Curve $111,714. (The filing disclosed that Trump for America made disbursements to a company owned by its executive director’s brother, but Gantt’s connection to Red Curve was not disclosed, despite Gantt’s role as Trump for America treasurer and chief financial officer.)
One of Gantt’s super PACs is Citizens for a United New Mexico. The SuperPAC took out ads accusing a congressional primary contender of being insufficiently supportive of Trump. Although it’s supported by oil companies, the SuperPAC’s biggest donor is the Republican Winning for Women Action Fund, which is backed by GOP billionaires including Paul Singer and Charles Schwab.
Despite its ostensible location, Gantt’s New Mexico Super PAC paid more than $19,000 to two companies in Massachusetts: Gantt’s Bulldog Compliance and another firm run by a Romney veteran.
As ProgressNow New Mexico reported, Gantt and Crate are also working directly with oil and gas companies as treasurer and director of a 501c4 group called Power the Future, which collaborated on messaging with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. As a 501c4, Power the Future is not required to disclose its donations, any reimbursement it received from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association or any payments made to Gantt, Crate, or Red Curve.
But while corporate money may trickle down to Red Curve and other companies with Romney ties, the Republican National Committee opened an unusual firehose to Red Curve.
Last December, the RNC wrote Red Curve a check for $551,725. In May, another one followed for $856,818. The purpose for both was listed as “rent.” Red Curve is based in Beverly, MA, with an office in Virginia. It’s not clear if the RNC rented space at these facilities, but the payments are the only federal disclosures of rent paid to Red Curve by any entity.
After ProPublica revealed earlier this year that the RNC obscured payments to some of its top insiders, former RNC Chair Michael Steele criticized the payments as “sweetheart deals.” The 2016 Trump inaugural committee is now under investigation, and paid the Trump International Hotel $175,000 per day for event space.
In July 2020, the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group, filed a complaint alleging that American Made Media Consultants, a company associated with Trump campaign leadership, was used as a pass-through, allowing the campaign to move money to subcontractors without leaving a paper trail.
Federal documents included in the Campaign Legal Center’s complaint, and independently confirmed by TYT, list the address for American Made Media Consultants as the same one used by the campaign: The office address for Red Curve Solutions in Beverly, MA.
That same address figured in a 2012 Boston Phoenix story about Romney’s team figuring out a new way to funnel money to state committees. At the time, Red Curve’s address was used by another company getting money from Romney, and run by top advisors including Stuart Stevens, now a senior advisor to the Lincoln Project.
Neither the RNC, Romney, nor Red Curve responded immediately to TYT’s requests for comment.