Kari Lake-linked tech company wreaks havoc on campaign finance

Photo illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

Photo illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

Questions have been raised about a series of apps providing information on Arizona’s conservative candidates.

In fact, thanks to former Trump campaign COO and financial patron of Arizona gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake, the Grand Canyon State has a whole host of them.

The Superfeed Technologies app developed for Lake appears to be the most popular of four apps the Phoenix-based company has developed for GOP candidates in Arizona, apparently for free.

Over a thousand Android users and an unknown number of iPhone owners have downloaded the tool so far, which provides regular updates from Lake’s social media feed, informs users of campaign events and connects them to donation and volunteer registration portals.

One problem: Arizona campaign finance records show no record of Lake’s campaign — or any political committee — having paid Superfeed for the service, though the company has explicitly described its work. And that, according to election lawyer James Barton, would make the app’s operation a violation of state contribution rules.

“In some states, businesses and unions can contribute directly to campaigns. That’s not the case in Arizona,” Barton told The Daily Beast. “They may have promoted it for free, and if so, that’s illegal because it would be an in-kind contribution from a company.”

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Former President Donald Trump (left) hugs Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in July.

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Former President Donald Trump (left) hugs Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in July.

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Former President Donald Trump (left) hugs Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in July.

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In fact, the only flow of money reflected in public records has gone from mobile app developer to TV host turned politician. In personal financial reports Lake filed with the state earlier this year, she said she received compensation for her work as a “communications consultant” for FeedMe, Inc. The forms do not specify the amount of compensation. the commission, except that it exceeded $1,000.

Arizona company records and Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that FeedMe was a former moniker that Superfeed dropped more than a year before Lake made his disclosure. Why Lake, whose campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Beast, used an old name for the company in the official filing is unclear. The address Superfeed lists on its website is the same UPS store that Lake identified in the disclosure as the location of her and her husband’s personal belongings.

FeedMe, now Superfeed, first gained attention in 2019, when The New York Times described it as a right-wing news site company western review. But when The Daily Beast contacted western review Founder Floyd Brown, the longtime conservative operative, claimed he was no longer involved with the business and said the operation was in the hands of the former state treasurer Arizona, Jeff Dewit.

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Jeff DeWit arrives at Trump Tower on November 13, 2016 in New York City.

Kevin Hagen

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Jeff DeWit arrives at Trump Tower on November 13, 2016 in New York City.

Kevin Hagen

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Jeff DeWit arrives at Trump Tower on November 13, 2016 in New York City.

Kevin Hagen

The Daily Beast could not confirm this because Arizona’s incorporation documents are several years old and because DeWit, the former Trump campaign COO and longtime surrogate, did not respond to inquiries. repeated comments.

However, DeWit’s LinkedIn identifies him as the CEO of Superfeed.

The Daily Beast reached representatives from other campaigns who received seemingly free Superfeed apps. Stephen Puetz, campaign manager for Jim Lamon – a businessman who lost the Republican primary to challenge Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) – said he had never heard of Superfeed and that he was unaware that the now-expired campaign had its own app available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store. He suggested that the app may have been developed as a demo but never properly launched.

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Jim Lamon, Republican Senate candidate from Arizona.

REBECCA NOBLE

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Jim Lamon, Republican Senate candidate from Arizona.

REBECCA NOBLE

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Jim Lamon, Republican Senate candidate from Arizona.

REBECCA NOBLE

Puetz broke promises to get more information, and The Daily Beast later learned that DeWit was Lamon’s campaign chairman. Federal campaign finance laws also largely prohibit corporate gifts to campaigns.

A spokesperson for Chandler restaurant owner Kelly Cooper, who is challenging Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ), told The Daily Beast that DeWit approached the campaign with a demo app the company promised would “consolidate the social media feeds”. But the spokesperson insisted that Superfeed had never submitted an invoice for the service and that the campaign was unaware that the company had actually launched the app.

As of this writing, Kelly Cooper of Superfeed for Congress had continued to update users on Cooper’s activities and connected them with volunteer and donation opportunities, through November 2.

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Chandler restaurant owner Kelly Cooper challenging Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ).

Rebecca Noble

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Chandler restaurant owner Kelly Cooper challenging Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ).

Rebecca Noble

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Chandler restaurant owner Kelly Cooper challenging Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ).

Rebecca Noble

The Daily Beast was unable to reach the fourth and final candidate with the Superfeed apps, state legislature hopeful Austin Smith. Smith attended at least one event with DeWit, and according to his LinkedIn works as a corporate director for the conservative activist group Turning Point Action.

Superfeed’s Google and Apple stores show he has developed apps for Turning Point Action and its Phoenix-based parent organization, Turning Point USA. Neither organization responded to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.

Barton left open the possibility that Superfeed received payment from at least some of these contestants through another vendor, which could then have subcontracted with the mobile app developer. However, no company provided services for all four campaigns. The lawyer suggested that the Arizona Clean Elections Commission, which he represented during his time in the state attorney general’s office, could investigate the situation and determine whether Superfeed had committed campaign finance violations. by providing free professional services.

But it’s impossible to get the job done by the time the candidates face off against their opponents on Election Day.

“I think it’s something they would investigate,” Barton said. “It’s just that it’s going to take a few months.”

The Clean Elections Commission did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Daily Beast.

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Abakar

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