Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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The Department of Homeland Security on Friday informed 21 states that their election systems were targeted by “Russian government cyber actors” during the 2016 presidential campaign.

As of late Friday afternoon, the states to acknowledge that the DHS told them they were targeted included Wisconsin, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Delaware, ColoradoConnecticut and Washington.

Wisconsin’s elections commission claimed in a press release that the Russian hacking activity did not affect election results in the state or the systems themselves.

“Internet security provided by the state successfully protected our systems,” commission administrator Michael Haas said in a statement. “Homeland Security specifically confirmed there was no breach or compromise of our data.”

What the hackers did do was target “Internet-facing election infrastructure,” according to the Wisconsin commission’s account of its debrief from the DHS, in what was apparently an unsuccessful effort to seek access to voter registration databases and other sensitive information.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill announced that the DHS saw suspicious traffic from IP addresses on state networks, but that efforts to breach their voting systems were similarly unsuccessful.

Colorado’s elections commissions likened the scan to of their system to “burglars jiggling the doors of a house and moving on when they realize the doors are locked.”

The attempts to infiltrate election systems were one arm of what the U.S. intelligence community has determined was a multi-pronged “influence campaign” to interfere with the 2016 election and swing the results in Donald Trump’s favor. At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, DHS officials testified about these cyberattacks on U.S. election systems. Bloomberg News had previously reported that Russian hackers had attempted to delete or alter voter data in Illinois, and successfully accessed a campaign finance database in another state.

While some state officials, like Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, said they were aware of the attempted intrusion and notified the FBI of the activities, others expressed frustration that the DHS had not brought the cyberattacks to their attention earlier.

Haas, who testified at the June Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that he did not believe Wisconsin was one of the targeted states because he had received no notification from the federal government, said he had asked for more details on when the activity occurred.

This post has been updated.

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Milo Yiannopoulos’ much-hyped plan to yet again rile the University of California at Berkeley’s campus by inviting a host of provocative far-right icons for four days of public speeches appears to have imploded in spectacular fashion.

According to new reports in Vanity Fair and Mediaite, after student organizers failed to file the proper paperwork to reserve university buildings, and after Yiannopolous apparently neglected to notify some of the scheduled speakers that the event was even happening, the affair has been reduced to a Saturday press conference in San Francisco.

“Free Speech Week” seems to have been something of a fiasco from the start.

Per Vanity Fair, Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart News editor who lost his gig and a book deal over comments that appeared to condone pedophilia, had promised to book flights and hotel rooms for the long list of speakers that included former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, conservative pundit Ann Coulter and anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller.

But Bannon and Coulter never publicly confirmed their attendance, and several other speakers, such as James Damore, the Google employee who was fired over a screed he wrote on why women are less biologically suited to coding than men, said they were never even told they were invited.

A university spokesman told Vanity Fair that Berkeley Patriot, the student group behind the event, failed to complete the contracts required to rent private buildings on campus, leaving speakers without security and relegating them to public spaces.

Amid this steady stream of bad news, participants began to drop out. Lucian Wintrich, a writer with the far-right blog Gateway Pundit, announced his withdrawal Wednesday, citing “uncertainty surrounding the event on both sides.”

Though a few slated participants, including conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, told these publications that they still planned to deliver speeches, Mediaite cited anonymous sources who said Yiannopoulos intends to announce the event’s cancelation at Saturday’s press conference.

The former Breitbart editor is part of a wave of far-right provocateurs trying to gain media attention and student followings with high-profile campus appearances. Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer is currently trying to arrange a nationwide campus speaking tour, and one of his backers has sued Michigan State University for rejecting a request to host Spencer on the East Lansing campus.

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Donald Trump, Jr. never held an official position on his father’s 2016 presidential campaign, nor did he join his father and sister in the White House as a member of the administration.

But the Republican National Committee is helping foot Trump Jr.’s mounting legal bills stemming from the multiple investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The RNC and Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign together have shelled out around $250,000 on his behalf to date.

The RNC’s ability to spend all this money on Trump Jr. is possible thanks to a rider that a powerful Democratic lawyer slipped into a government spending bill at the eleventh hour in 2014, allowing national party committees to establish special legal accounts for campaign-related expenses. Those accounts can take in three times the normal contribution limit to the parties’ general funds—which would be roughly $101,700 per person—and are subject to hardly any federal oversight. They serve as a deep, opaque pool of money that campaign finance experts described to TPM as a “gray area” or “wild west,” and their boundaries now are being tested as the sprawling congressional and federal Russia investigations press forward.

“The extent to which that money can be used for something like this has never really been nailed down by the Federal Election Commission,” Jan Baran, an election law expert at Wiley Rein who previously served as the RNC’s general counsel, told TPM of the RNC account.

Larry Noble, a senior director at the Campaign Legal Center who specializes in election law, criticized the FEC’s lack of guidance or regulations on the matter and said that the RNC footing Trump Jr.’s bills prompts a “real question of whether this is an appropriate use of their funds.”

“It raises the possibility that large donors will make large contributions knowing that the money is going to help the Trump defense,” he added.

FEC spokesman Christian Hilland told TPM that the committee couldn’t comment on specific details of the Trump campaign’s or the RNCs’ legal spending, but acknowledged that “the Commission has not promulgated regulations” related to the national party committees’ legal funds.

The RNC’s special legal fund, like the campaign itself, is permitted to cover any legal expenses that arise directly from a campaign or a government official’s duties in office. The costs of election recounts and routine compliance matters are covered; drunk driving arrests and sex scandals are not. If the RNC counts the legal defense of the President’s son, a private citizen, in the Russia investigation as a campaign-related expense, Noble asked, “where does that stop?”

The lack of clarity on this point was underlined by the RNC chairwoman herself in a July interview with Washington, D.C. radio station WMAL.

“I don’t even know if that’s legal, if we would even be allowed to do that,” Ronna Romney McDaniel said when asked if she could cover the legal costs for Trump and other officials caught up in the probe.

RNC lawyers have since determined that the funds they’ve paid to the President’s personal attorneys, which amounted to some $230,000 in August alone, are lawful, and are looking into the legality of covering the legal bills of current White House staffers, who must comply with gift rules, according to a Washington Post report.

Asked how the four administration officials who have retained legal counsel in the Russia investigation—Communications Director Hope Hicks, Vice President Mike Pence, White House counsel Don McGahn and senior adviser Jared Kushner—are covering their bills, a White House spokeswoman referred TPM to the RNC. The committee did not return repeated requests for comment.

Only Trump and his son have taken advantage of the RNC’s or the campaign’s legal funds so far. But campaign finance experts told TPM that there’s nothing legally preventing any other campaign associate or White House official from doing the same.

Those outside the administration have taken a wide range of approaches to their defenses in the probes. Higher-profile associates like longtime adviser Roger Stone and ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, through his family, have established legal defense funds. Former campaign adviser Carter Page has taken the unusual step of not hiring any representation at all, despite having sat for over 10 hours of FBI interviews, telling TPM that he’s not concerned “since I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Still others are simply draining reserve funds to cover thousands of dollars in white-collar legal bills. Former campaign adviser Michael Caputo told TPM he has exhausted his childrens’ college funds and was planning to tap his retirement savings next.

Asked if he had contacted the RNC or Trump campaign for financial assistance, Caputo said, “They know where to find me.”

“Perhaps it’ll happen,” he continued. “But I think the priority is that we as Republicans protect the President and his family. People are like, ‘Oh aren’t you upset that they’re spending money on legal fees for people who are wealthy when you’re going through this?’ I’m not upset by that at all. I think it’s our responsibility.”

Page, too, said he was “not a bit” bothered by a President who claims to be worth $10 billion drawing funds from the RNC and his re-election campaign to pay legal expenses for himself and his son, while those loyal to him struggle to pay their own bills.

As with with Trump’s decision not to divest from his business empire and to hire his own family members for White House roles, the operative question seems to be less if he can take those steps than if he should.

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Paul Manafort offered a Kremlin-linked Russian billionaire private briefings on the Trump campaign while serving as its chairman, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Manafort emailed an overseas intermediary requesting that his message be passed along to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin with whom Manafort had previously done business.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in an email dated July 7, 2016, according to the report.

Post reporters were read part of the email, which Politico reported was sent from his presidential campaign account. It was one of tens of thousands of documents that congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team have received as part of their ongoing probes into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

There is no evidence in the documents to show that Deripaska either received the email or took any briefings from Manafort, according to the newspaper. Representatives for both Deripaska’s company and Manafort denied that there was anything inappropriate about the communications.

Manafort spokesperson Jason Maloni told the Post that no briefings occurred and characterized the email as simply an offer for a “routine” briefing on the state of the campaign.

Vera Kurochkina, a spokeswoman for Deripaska’s company, Rusal, told the Post that its requests for comment “veer into manufactured questions so grossly false and insinuating that I am concerned even responding to these fake connotations provides them the patina of reality.”

Per the Post’s report, the documents turned over to investigators include a number of email exchanges related to Deripaska, some of which focus on money Manafort believed he was owed by Eastern European clients, that appear deliberately vague and that refer to the aluminum magnate only by his initials.

Manafort has reportedly been informed by federal prosecutors that they plan to indict him for possible tax and financial crimes.

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his wife were asleep in their Alexandria, Virginia apartment early on the morning of July 26 when a team of armed FBI agents burst through the door with a search warrant focusing on possible crimes committed as far back as 2006.

Those new details, including Kathleen Manafort’s shaken response to being searched for weapons, are included in a CNN report out late Tuesday on the accelerating investigation into Manafort and other Trump campaign associates.

A source briefed on the investigation told CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team explicitly notified Manafort that they planned to charge him with possible tax and financial crimes.

While former federal prosecutors have suggested that Mueller may be trying to pressure Manafort into coughing up any dirt he may have on other members Trump associates, they told TPM that it was standard practice to notify an investigate target of a pending indictment and that Mueller’s team would not use this warning as an empty threat.

“If he’s been told that he’s a target—that he’s likely to be indicted—I think the way you interpret that is he’s likely to be indicted,” said Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor who served as special counsel to Mueller when he was assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Criminal Division.

A spokesman for Manafort declined CNN’s request for comment.

The former Trump campaign official, who has previously denied any wrongdoing, is under scrutiny for the web of shell companies he used to purchase real estate, his offshore bank accounts, and the millions he received in payments from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. CNN noted that the search warrant covers much of the period when Manafort was working in Ukraine.

Agents reportedly took documents related to taxes and banking, as well as other materials relevant to the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

It is standard FBI practice to carry weapons and check residents for the same during a home search, but former federal prosecutors told TPM that the use of a “no-knock” raid was notable.

“They could pick his lock to go into his house which meant that they must’ve had strong evidence that he was going to destroy documents,” Nick Akerman, a former prosecutor on the Watergate investigation, told TPM. “That would have to be laid out in the search warrant application.”

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President Donald Trump is using funds donated to his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay the team of outside lawyers representing him in the various probes into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Reuters reported Tuesday.

One of two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the first payments had already been made and would be disclosed in public filings. The RNC is expected to make its August spending public on Wednesday, while Trump’s reelection campaign, which launched the day he took office, makes its next disclosure on Oct. 15.

CNN reported that the RNC in August shelled out some $230,000 for Trump’s Russia-related legal fees, paying $100,000 to lead outside attorney John Dowd and $131,250 to conservative constitutional lawyer Jay Sekulow.

Election law experts told Reuters that Trump is the first president to use private campaign funds to cover the costs of a criminal investigation. The Federal Election Commission does permit use of private donations for legal expenses, but past presidential campaigns have spent them on routine matters like compliance requirements.

An unnamed RNC official told CNN that the money for Trump’s private attorneys came through the RNC’s legal defense fund, rather than its political coffers.

Dowd was a bit more tart when Reuters asked about how Trump was covering his legal bills, saying only: “That’s none of your damn business.”

The third attorney assisting with the probe is special White House counsel Ty Cobb, a salaried staffer.

Campaigns may pay legal fees for individuals other than the particular candidate or elected official, Reuters noted. One example was the campaign’s June payment of $50,000 to the law firm of Alan Futerfas, the attorney representing Donald Trump, Jr. That same filing showed that Trump has spent over $4.5 million of campaign funds on legal costs from January through June.

A number of other White House staffers, including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, White House counsel Don McGahn, and Communications Director Hope Hicks, have retained legal representation in response to the investigation.

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Two bombshell reports that dropped Monday dispelled any lingering doubts about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s serious legal exposure. First CNN reported that the FBI was monitoring Manafort’s communications prior to and after the election, and, within the hour, the New York Times reported that federal prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him.

Legal experts told TPM that these reports also have significant implications for Trump campaign and administration officials, including President Donald Trump himself, as any communications between Manafort and the President, or Manafort and other campaign aides, about sensitive matters would have been recorded and stored while the order was in effect.

“You can always use that information,” Robert Deitz, former senior councillor to the director of the CIA and general counsel at the National Security Administration, told TPM. “Manafort could easily have been picked up in any of these communications citing the President for something: ‘The President told me X or I told the President Y.’ That doesn’t make it admissible evidence per se, but that’s the kind of thing that I think would scare the hell out of a principal in the investigation.”

Deitz noted that all communications obtained under an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court—like the one that CNN reported was in operation for Manafort through the start of the Trump administration—are maintained in what the intelligence community refers to as “the primordial soup.”

“Stuff you either didn’t get around to reviewing, or stuff you kind of took a first cut at and didn’t think was significant, you don’t erase it,” he said.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni adamantly denied that there was anything untoward in the former campaign chairman’s private communications, and noted that it was a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA order.

“If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” Maloni said in a statement late Tuesday. “The U.S Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous Administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent. Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ – there is nothing there.”

To obtain an order from the FISA court, the government must establish probable cause that an individual is the “agent of a foreign power,” and federal agents are then required to minimize any communications that don’t pertain to the basis for that order.

The CNN report also explicitly referred to “communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign”—intelligence that would directly pertain to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump associates collaborated in those efforts, which originated with the FBI.

Though Manafort left the campaign in August 2016, he continued to be in touch with Trump and his team through early 2017. The content of those conversations would be of overwhelming interest to Mueller’s team, former federal prosecutors told TPM, particularly if investigators are trying to convince Manafort to cough up whatever dirt he may possess on other Trump associates.

“The $64,000 question is whether there is anything to this,” said Michael Zeldin, who served as special counsel to Mueller when he was the assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Criminal Division. “That is, did Manafort willfully provide intelligence information to a foreign power? And, if so, who else has knowledge of or participated in the activity?”

“If he did,” Zeldin continued, “the question for prosecutors is whether Manafort has a story to tell that will lead them to offer a plea bargain type of arrangement in exchange for his complete and truthful testimony.”

Both Zeldin and Nick Akerman, a former prosecutor on the Watergate investigation, pointed to reports of the strong evidence Mueller is building against Manafort to bolster theories that prosecutors are trying to flip him. Though the Times report on Mueller’s team’s warning to Manafort doesn’t indicate the alleged crimes for which he could be indicted, the former campaign chair is reportedly under investigation for failing to register as a foreign agent, tax evasion and colluding with a foreign power against the interests of the U.S.

“The bottom line is that the people who really should be worried now are the President, Donald Trump, Jr., [Trump son-in-law and White House adviser Jared] Kushner,” Akerman said. “People who were at that June 9 meeting, and people that Manafort could finger because ultimately what I think they’re trying to do is come at him with all the firepower they have and get him to turn and testify.”

Manafort was present at that June 9 meeting in Trump Tower, where Trump Jr. was told he would receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Kremlin-directed effort to help his father’s campaign.

Trump, Kushner, Manafort and Trump Jr. have all previously denied working with Russia to influence the election.

According to CNN, a previous FISA order against Manafort tied to his consulting work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian political order began in 2014 and expired sometime before he was promoted to campaign chairman in May 2016. CNN’s report noted that the order that covered Manafort’s communications through “early this year” was not in effect at the time of the Trump Tower meeting, suggesting it wasn’t issued until after early June 2016.

Zeldin, Mueller’s former special counsel, said that FISA orders generally require renewal every 90-120 days, and CNN’s story implied that Manafort’s order is no longer operative.

Legal experts said that cutoff could have several interpretations: It could suggest either that Mueller’s team already had obtained all the information they needed, or that, after lawyers for Manafort and the Trump administration cut off contact between the two parties, the wiretap was no longer a valuable avenue.

“If he stops talking to people, then there’s nothing to intercept,” Zeldin said.

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In a whopping 400-plus page complaint filed Thursday, onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page sued several news organizations for publishing what he deemed were “highly-damaging, life-threatening articles” about his contacts with Russian officials.

Page’s defamation suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, identifies a Sept. 23, 2016 Yahoo article as the wellspring for a flood of stories calling into question his past work in Moscow and his contacts with Kremlin-linked Russian businessmen. Page, who is representing himself, is seeking $75,000 in damages.

The article, written by Yahoo’s chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, reported that U.S. officials were investigating whether Page met with Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister, and Igor Diveykin, the Kremlin’s deputy chief for internal policy, during the campaign to discuss lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia. The alleged meeting occurred during a June 2016 trip to Moscow that Page took while serving as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign; Page denies that he he met with those officials.

Page’s suit describes the story’s publication, which prompted his departure from the Trump campaign, as one of “the most dangerous, reckless, irresponsible and historically-instrumental moments in modern-day sensational crime story journalism.” It also targets HuffPost and Radio Free Europe for publishing subsequent articles that cited Isikoff’s reporting.

Oath Inc., the parent company of Yahoo and HuffPost which is named as a defendant in the suit, did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Page’s complaint, in which he refers to himself as “Dr. Page,” chronicles the Yahoo article’s dissemination in exhaustive, theatrical detail. It’s sprinkled throughout with tweets, photos of himself and even online reader comments. The oil and gas consultant, who runs his own small firm from a Manhattan co-working space, charged that the Yahoo article’s allegations led to “the destruction” of his reputation and “led to many associated threats to his life.”

He quoted one such threat he said he received via voicemail at length. “If it was up to me, after we fucking tried you for treason, we’d take you out in the street and beat the fucking piss out of you with baseball bats, you cock sucking mother fucker,” part of it read.

Though Page adamantly denies collaborating on Russia’s campaign to influence the 2016 election, the FBI was sufficiently concerned by his foreign contacts to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to monitor his communications last year. Page also has confirmed that he sat through over ten hours of interviews with FBI agents this spring.

Despite this wealth of what he insists in the complaint is unwanted public attention, Page has spoken frequently with the press. He agreed to a 30-minute interview with TPM this summer in a Starbucks in Penn Station, and also claimed to be shopping around a book deal on his experience navigating the Russia investigation.

Asked Friday for comment on the suit and why he chose to represent himself, Page sent TPM a lengthy statement quoting George Washington and citing the Constitution. He said he has “done a tremendous amount of legal work” during his career, including as legal officer on his Navy ship and as general counsel for his energy consulting firm.

“Although I may have been dissed amidst the dystopia seen last year,” Page said in an email, “I have full faith that the true administration of justice will indeed be restored in due course.”

Read the first part of his 400-plus page complaint below:

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After a months-long court battle to obtain the visitor logs from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and an additional week-long delay, the Justice Department on Friday released the names of just 22 visitors to the estate.

“The government does not believe that they need to release any further Mar-a-Lago visitor records,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “We vehemently disagree. The government seriously misrepresented their intentions to both us and the court.”

CREW teamed up with the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute in April to sue the Department of Homeland Security for Mar-a-Lago’s complete visitor logs from Jan. 20, the date of Trump’s inauguration, to March 8. Instead, DOJ turned over just 22 names of visitors from the weekend the President hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his entourage at the sprawling Palm beach estate.

Those on the list include Japan’s deputy foreign minister and other top aides, butlers, and drivers from Abe’s delegation.

Bookbinder said that this list amounted to “spitting in the eye of transparency,” promising that the trio of watchdog groups “will be fighting this in court.”

CREW also released a letter from the DOJ, dated Tuesday, that explained the other records are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the watchdogs.

“The remaining records that the Secret Service has processed in response to the Mar-a-Lago request contain, reflect, or otherwise relate to the President’s schedules,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York wrote. “The government believes that Presidential schedule information is not subject to FOIA.”

Trump was traveling to Mar-a-Lago frequently during the period included in the watchdog groups’ complaints, and came under fire for conducting government business in view of paying members of his Florida club.

During Abe’s visit, for example, club members shared images on social media of Trump and the Prime Minister strategizing their response to a ballistic missile release by North Korea at a dinner table.

The White House also dismissed ethics concerns about the cost of bringing a visiting dignitary to the President’s private resort, telling the press that Trump was “personally paying for the Mar-a-Lago portions of the trip” as a “gift.”

The trio of watchdog groups is also suing to obtain visitor logs from the White House and Trump Tower, the President’s Manhattan home.

Read the DOJ letter and list of 22 visitors’ names below:

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In a lawsuit and a spate of recent profiles, the Georgia State University student managing white nationalist Richard Spencer’s college campus tour has been characterized as a fresh-faced free speech advocate who wants to see visiting speakers of all persuasions treated equally. Cameron Padgett most recently made headlines for teaming up with self-proclaimed “alt-right lawyer” Kyle Bristow to sue Michigan State University for refusing to allow Spencer to come give a talk on the East Lansing campus.

In TPM’s initial conversations with the Georgia native, who first gained national attention for his successful April lawsuit that compelled Auburn University to allow Spencer to speak there, he described himself simply as a libertarian “senior in college.” His relative youth was also emphasized in a press release Bristow sent about the Michigan State case on Sept. 3 and in the complaint, which described Padgett as a “law-abiding 23-year-old senior at Georgia State University” and “23-year-old senior at Georgia State University who subscribes to identitarian philosophy,” respectively.

Spencer himself told TPM it was useful to have a current college student making speaking requests to schools on his behalf.

But there is one odd inconsistency in how Padgett’s background has been publicly presented: A wealth of local news stories about his high school athletic career indicate he is 29, not 23, as has been reported in the press and as he was described in the original complaint against Michigan State.

Asked about this discrepancy, Padgett told TPM he never intended to mislead anyone about his age.

“All the news articles, I don’t know how they got my age wrong,” he said, calling the mistake “kind of weird.” “They assumed. I don’t know why they did that. They never asked me or anything; they just put that in there. I’m a graduate student at Georgia State and I’m 28.”

In a subsequent text message, Padgett said that he meant to say he was “born in ’88…not that I was 28.”

Padgett said he believed the slip with his age originated with a widely-circulated Associated Press article about the Michigan State suit that stated he was 23. He added that he’d asked Bristow to amend the complaint with the correct information.

Bristow did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for confirmation that the complaint had been amended. A motion for preliminary injunction that Bristow filed on Sept. 10 made no mention of Padgett’s age.

The same local press that placed Padgett in high school in the mid-2000s also reported on a dispute over a referee’s call at one of his brother’s basketball games; a 2009 citation for disorderly conduct provided by the Candler County, Georgia clerk alleged that Padgett refused to leave the premises and was “questioning officers and running his mouth.” Padgett told TPM that officers “falsely arrested him” and that the matter was swiftly resolved outside of court.

Taken together, these details cast a slightly different light on public reports about and descriptions of Padgett.

In a phone conversation this week, Spencer showered praise on Padgett for his work on the Auburn case, referring to him as “a very energetic young man,” a “pragmatic and optimistic young man,” and an “amazing kid.”

“First off Cameron is a student and secondly a lot of this is simply division of labor,” Spencer told TPM when asked why Padgett reaches out to schools to set up speaking gigs rather than doing it himself.

“He is not an employee; he is doing this voluntarily, but we also make it very clear to the university what is happening,” he said. “We aren’t fronting or anything. We say we are going to bring Richard Spencer from the National Policy Institute, that the National Policy Institute will ultimately pay the room rental fee and all that. But Cameron is being that point man. And I do think it’s good that he’s a student as well.”

Georgia State confirmed that Padgett is currently enrolled there. He told TPM he was in his last semester earning a graduate degree as a finance major, and that he got involved on Spencer’s behalf as a “staunch, staunch supporter of the First Amendment” who felt public schools were unfairly discriminating against Spencer for his views on race. Padgett said he received no official title or compensation from NPI, and did not plan on becoming more active in far-right politics after graduation.

Padgett said he used the $29,000 settlement he received from the Auburn case to pay Sam Dickson, his lawyer on that case who has represented members of the Ku Klux Klan in the past, and reimbursed some $3,500 to NPI for the money it spent renting and securing the campus venue for Spencer. He said the remaining money went to a “pro free speech organization,” which he declined to identify.

NPI’s recently-appointed executive director, Evan McLaren, described Padgett as a “volunteer and a friend” who has “really taken the bull by the horns” in sending room rental requests on Spencer’s behalf to schools including the University of Florida, Louisiana State University, Penn State University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Ohio State University.

“I think he basically shares Richard’s attitude that it’s an important message, at least one that’s valid enough that it should be heard on campus,” McLaren said, noting that “the public universities are obviously a target.”

Exactly what message Padgett wants promoted isn’t entirely clear. NPI, Bristow and Padgett himself say he’s merely a free speech advocate and doesn’t consider himself part of the loosely-defined mass of white nationalists, anti-Semites and misogynists who compose the alt-right.

Unprompted, Padgett told TPM he would “support someone who went up and said all white people are evil and should give money to all the minorities and give their land over.”

However, to date he has only involved himself on campus free speech cases on Spencer’s behalf. Padgett also has cited the far-right politician Pat Buchanan, who called Donald Trump “the great white hope,” as a major influence; has a Twitter feed full of tweets lamenting the plight of white people in America and criticizing the influence of Jews; and told TPM that, though he did not want a “100 percent homogenous white nation,” multiculturalism “just hasn’t worked.”

Intentions aside, First Amendment experts have told TPM that Spencer and Padgett have good odds of succeeding in court. Free speech protections are very strong in public spaces like state school campuses, and court precedent, like at Auburn, has mostly fallen on their side.

Both men said that they’re hoping the Michigan State case will bolster that precedent, prompting other universities to simply give up on blocking Spencer’s appearances.

“We want to get a model that works,” Spencer said.

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