Like “Fat Tony” from the Simpsons, Roger Stone has a long-standing practice of conducting his business via unofficial protégés who handle much of his dirty work for him.
As discussed in Part 1, the real Fat Tony, the late mob boss of the Genovese crime family, was a client of the late mafia lawyer Roy Cohn who mentored both Stone and Donald Trump. (Link to tweet 1; tweet 2; tweet 3)
Stone teaches his own protégés that they can succeed as political arsonists if they follow “Stone’s Rules,” which include, in his own words:
- “Politics is not about uniting people. It’s about dividing people.”
- “Open multiple fronts on your enemy. He must feel confused and besieged from every side.”
- “Hate is a more powerful motivator than love.”
- “Attack, attack, attack. Never defend.”
- “Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter accusations.”
- “Those who are outraged will vote.”
- “You have to be outrageous to get noticed.”
Much like former president Donald Trump (FN 1), Stone and his protégés strive to ruin the lives of their most effective political opponents and critics. Investigative journalist Bob Norman landed on the receiving end of such an attack after reporting on one of Stone’s former clients, Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, Florida.
According to Norman and others, Stone had used a “host of his storied dirty tricks” to help elect Israel.
Israel, an apparently corrupt Democrat, had “returned the favor by hiring three of Stone’s associates on the public dime,” including “Stone’s personal assistant, his co-author, and a woman named Jen Hobbs, who was then the fiancé of Andrew Miller, Stone’s protégé and political do-boy.” (Italics added.)
Israel had also promoted Stone’s stepson, Scott Stone, to detective, even though the stepson had been with the office only a short time. (It was an “uncommonly fast” promotion according to the Daily Beast.)
Soon after Norman published his investigative reports about Israel, Andrew Miller (Stone’s “do-boy”) transformed the sheriff’s old campaign website, the Bugle, into a fake news site that published weekly hit pieces on Norman, smearing him as “demented” and an “alcoholic.”
As detailed by Norman for the Columbia Journalism Review, “[f]ake accounts on Facebook—some with facetious names like ‘Benjamin Gay’—began jumping on posts in which [Norman] was mentioned to hurl slurs.” Stone, of course, “never admitted to being behind these attacks.”
One day, Norman received a call from a police lieutenant who directed Norman to the Bugle site “which that day featured what looked like a large police sketch of [Norman] with the headline, ‘Margate Peeper on the prowl.”
The Bugle site, which claimed that the peeper had been peeking inside a pregnant woman’s window, was updated to identify Norman as the perpetrator. The lieutenant told Norman that he’d already “determined that [the post] was a hoax after speaking with Miller [of the Bugle],” but wanted to give Norman a “heads-up it was out there.”
As explained by Norman, “it somehow got even worse.” One morning, he “read this bizarre fabricated allegation about [himself] on Twitter: ‘There are reports that @WPLGLocal10’s Bob Norman is being investigated for touching a 19 year old male in studio. Resignation soon?’” It had been posted by Sam Nunberg, “another disciple of Stone’s who was working for Trump at the time…”
Norman confronted Stone in the Summer of 2014 “with a camera in tow.” He says that “Stone quite literally snarled and lashed outward at the camera in a manner that seemed almost prehistoric, like a lunging pterodactyl. He hit it with his hand before he sped off.”
The attacks on Norman subsided soon after the confrontation.
But Stone would soon find other targets, while expanding his nefarious media operation beyond the confines of the Bugle.
In 2013, the South Florida Business Journal reported that, according to Stone, the Bugle was “being acquired by an existing Palm Beach media company that owns several other publications and has investment capital and that The Broward Bugle website will be expanded as will their coverage.”
It was also in 2013 that Jacob Engels, a recent college graduate, befriended Stone and started a propaganda site called the “East Orlando Post,” which currently lists revenue of between $1 and $5 million. In 2014, Engels launched a second website called the Central Florida Post.
In 2018, Stone, Engels, and deputies from Sheriff Israel’s office converged upon Broward County’s recount of the Florida senate race. Before the recount, then Governor Rick Scott (a Republican) had eked out a razor-thin victory against then Senator Bill Nelson (a Democrat).
During the campaign, Scott had rented an email list from Roger Stone, as reported by Media Matters. (Link to tweet.)
Israel became involved with the recount after Rick Scott filed a lawsuit requesting that the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Sheriff’s office “impound and secure all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots when they are not in use until the conclusion of the recount.”
Rick Scott’s lawsuit, which was filed on Nov. 11, was premised on unsubstantiated election-fraud claims spread by Stone and his minions.
On Nov. 8, Stone himself had suggested that Rick Scott, who was governor at the time, “order FDLE to impound all ballots in Broward county.” According to Posobiec, Stone had personally flown into Broward county that evening. Posobiec assured his followers that “the steal will be stopped.”
In order to settle Rick Scott’s lawsuit, lawyers for the Broward County Democratic Party agreed to allow Israel’s office to send in three deputies to supervise the recount at the election office.
As I mentioned, Stone’s stepson served as a deputy in Israel’s office. Another Broward County deputy, German Bickbau, had founded a biker group called Spetsnaz, which includes a chapter in Moscow, Russia. According to the Miami Herald, a “Russian intelligence officer-turned Miami real-estate investor” named Svyatoslav Mangushev helped Bickbau form the organization. Moreover, the group’s “members once asked for official recognition from Russia’s biggest biker gang, the Night Wolves, an infamous group that has strong ties to Russia’s security services. The Night Wolves played a role in the Ukrainian uprising … and are under U.S. sanctions.”
As for Engels, he and Ali Alexander and other members of Stone’s posse (such as Laura Loomer) assisted Rick Scott by recycling Stone’s “Stop the Steal” messaging from 2016 and organizing protests specifically targeting Broward County’s election office and supervisor Brenda Snipes.
Snipes, a Jeb Bush appointee, had legitimate competence issues, which made her an easy target for Stone and his malevolent underlings, including Engels who at one point put on a white wig and black pants suit to imitate her.
Stone’s underlings also included Bikers for Trump, his “wall of meat” from 2016. (See part 1.) During one of the protests outside Snipes’s election office, Bikers founder (Chris Cox) claimed to discover a ziplock bag of ballot ties. Loomer presented his alleged discovery as evidence of ballot rigging.
Trump has said that he, too, intervened in the 2018 Florida recount by personally dispatching the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys” to Broward County.
Federal officials have denied Trump’s claim, and Trump is an untrustworthy source. But after recent reports of rogue FBI agents in New York and Florida, we would be naive to ignore the possibility that corrupt agents helped undermine Florida’s recount.
In the end, the recount left Scott’s whisper-thin victory in place. The official results showed that he had defeated Nelson by only about 10,000 votes out of more than 8 million.
As in 2016, however, it was the Democrats who should have worried about the 2018 election’s integrity. For one thing, many voters in three Democratic-leaning South Florida counties (Broward, Miami Dade, and Palm Beach) did not receive their absentee ballots on time or at all. “In all three [of those counties], more Democrats requested mail ballots than Republicans by a margin of almost 2 to 1, but Republicans returned a higher percentage of ballots,” per the Miami Herald.
Second, then Senator Bill Nelson, who was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, warned that Russians had penetrated some voter registration systems in the state. He said that the federal government had concealed this information from state officials who needed to take steps to secure the systems.
Nelson was right about the breaches. But no one believed him—some even mocked him—until special counsel Robert Mueller (and later the FBI) confirmed it in 2019. By then, Scott was safely ensconced in the U.S. senate.
Even after confirming the breach, the federal government, as well as Ron DeSantis (who was by then safely ensconced as governor) withheld the names of the affected Florida counties.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), one of the most vocal proponents of more transparency about Russian election interference, later penned an OpEd for the Washington Post titled, “Why is the Russian meddling in 2016 such a big secret? I’m not allowed to say.”
During the 2018 campaign, Murphy’s Republican opponent, Scott Sturgill, had paid $2,000 to the Central Florida Post (run by Jacob Engels) and $2,5oo to CFP Media Strategies (also run by Engels).
Even after Murphy defeated Sturgill, Engels used his various platforms to harass her. In 2021, for example, “stephaniemurphyforsenate.com” redirected to the Central Florida Post, Engels’s website.
Engels had used the same website to mock Andrew Gillum when he ran against DeSantis in 2018. He also used it to abuse Murphy, the first Vietnamese woman elected to Congress, who he smeared with the pejorative “Saigon Murphy.”
By then, Engels had been photographed with the Proud Boys on multiple occasions. (Link tweet 1 [Engels as spokesperson]; tweet 2 [Engels in maroon with sunglasses].)
Engels had also served as a press manager for Enrique Tarrio, the organization’s national chairman who, in March 2020, had helped
Engels destroy Gillum’s political ambitions once and for all with a salacious photo of Gillum passed out naked in a pool of vomit.
As early as 2017, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes had stated on his show, “Can you call for violence generally? ’Cause I am,” as reported in the Miami New Times.
None of this could have made Murphy or her family feel safe.
When Murphy tearfully announced her decision to not seek another term in 2022 after all, Stone and Engels were jubilant, gleefully attributing her decision to the abuse that Engels had inflicted upon her. Engels wrote on his Central Florida Post website, “Victory: How We Ousted Communist Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy,” while Stone wrote on Telegram, “Jacob Engels, prominent gay journalist drives Florida congresswoman Stephanie Murphy from Senate race!”
Murphy’s seat is now held by pro-Trump Republican Cory Mills.
As for Stone’s friend Sheriff Israel. he was eventually ousted over his agency’s horrific mishandling of the gun massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.
Scott Sturgill wasn’t the only Florida political candidate who worked with Jacob Engels in 2018. That year, Engels also helped elect disgraced former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, one of Roger Stone’s many crooked friends.
During his 2018 campaign, Greenberg falsely accused his political opponent, music teacher Brian Beute, of pedophilia in a letter that he mailed to Beute’s employer, as detailed by the Orlando Sentinel. In the letter, Greenberg pretended to be a student at the school that employed Beute.
Engels posted a video accusing Beute of a “tromboning incident … as a teacher,” thus amplifying Greenberg’s lie.
A far right activist named Leslie A. (“LA”) Key, who had a business with Engels, helped amplify the lie as well. Journalist Zachary Petrizzo has called her a “longtime confidante” of Roger Stone.
Key and her husband owned a separate business called “MAGA Advisory Group” that had a consulting contract with Greenberg’s office. But the business showed “no example of work product” to auditors, according to WFTV9.
A fake Facebook account named “April Goad” spread Greenberg’s lie against Beute as well. Key claimed to personally know April Goad who did not exist, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. (Link tweet 1; tweet 2.)
The April Goad account was not removed until July 2020, when Facebook finally eliminated a sprawling network of reportedly inauthentic accounts associated with Stone, Engels, and the Proud Boys. “April Goad” was part of that network, according to a detailed report by Graphika.
Greenberg pleaded guilty to stalking Beute after investigators found his fingerprints on the letter to Beute’s employer.
Ironically, as a result of that investigation, prosecutors discovered that it was Greenberg who had sex trafficked a minor, another offense to which Greenberg pleaded guilty. Greenberg reportedly implicated Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), another Stone operative, in the same criminal offense, although Gaetz has never been charged.
But there’s more. While investigating the Beute matter, prosecutors discovered that Greenberg had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from the tax collector’s office which he had converted to crypto and spent. He had set up a crypto company inside the office, which facilitated these crimes.
Greenberg founded his crypto company (Government Blockchain, LLC) with crypto enthusiast Samuel Armes, who also served as president of the Florida Blockchain Business Association (Florida Blockchain).
Florida Blockchain’s board of directors included Miami “crypto queen” Eryka Gemma, the one-time girlfriend of Enrique Tarrio. On Dec. 30, 2020, Gemma had given Tarrio a document called “1776 returns,” which outlined a plan for storming the U.S. Capitol and other government buildings on Jan. 6, 2021.
Late last year, the DOJ announced that it is investigating Gemma’s ties, if any, to Jacob Engels. In the same announcement, the DOJ said that it is reviewing whether the 2018 “Stop the Steal” campaign served as a blueprint for the circumstances that led to the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Cinco de Milo
Even if the DOJ’s investigation eventually sidelines Engels, Stone has a seemingly endless supply of ruthless apprentices to help him attack critics, demonize and intimidate the left, and manufacture outrage.
In May 2017, Stone and several of these apprentices — Jack Posobiec, Ali Alexander, and Cassandra Fairbanks — attended a party thrown by Milo Yiannopoulos. The party was live-streamed, providing a glimpse into the twisted world in which these political miscreants hatch their schemes.
As discussed in Part 1, Milo is a far right provocateur and writer who had helped Steve Bannon mainstream antisemitic “alt right” leader Richard Spencer — that is, until Spencer’s followers gave away the game by throwing Nazi salutes as Spencer declared “Hail Trump!”
In February 2017, however, Milo fell on hard times, losing a major book deal with Simon & Schuster after giving an interview in which he had defended pederasty.
Milo hoped that his party would usher in his triumphant return. (It didn’t.) He called it Cinco de Milo.
Milo paraded around the party with sunglasses and a white python draped around his neck, as several shirtless men trailed behind him. Stone wore a rainbow plaid suit to the fiesta.
It was during Cinco de Milo that Stone took the Proud Boys pledge. (Link to tweet; link to video.)
It was also during Cinco de Milo that Stone posed for a photo with Enrique Tarrio who has said that the party was his first encounter with the Proud Boys.
Some Cinco de Milo revelers posed for photos with assault rifles as props. At one point during the event, Fairbanks tweeted a photo of her friend carrying an assault rifle and wrote that he was “ready for ‘Antifa.’”
Posobiec and his wife, Tanya Tay, were apparently ready for Antifa too.
On May 6, 2017 (one day after Cinco de Milo), Posobiec disrupted France’s presidential election by tweeting a link to a trove of stolen documents belonging to the campaign of French president Emmanuel Macron. He claimed to have found the documents on 4chan, as reported in the New Yorker. He used the hashtag #MacronLeaks.
According to an analysis by DFR Labs, “Posobiec’s first tweet about the leaked Macron ‘campaign documents’ occurred at 14:49 EST (18:49 UTC). This was then retweeted fifteen times in the first minute and 87 times in five minutes, suggesting the use of automated bots to amplify the signal.”
That night, Cassandra Fairbanks (another Stone protege) tweeted “‘I just raped Macron worse than when he was 15,’ @JackPosobiec just now 😂”
Some of the #MacronLeaks documents were denounced as fakes, and the hacker group Anonymous called out Posobiec for spreading disinformation.
In 2020, six Russian hackers were indicted for the “hack-and-leak effort” directed at Macron’s political party in 2017, per the Associated Press. The indictment also accused the defendants “in destructive attacks on Ukraine’s power grid.”
Last year, during an FBI raid of Trump’s home at Mar A Lago, the FBI found documents about Macron listed as a sub-item of a file labeled “Roger Stone presidential pardon.”
Few in the media, however, connected the dots between the file folder and the 2017 “rape” of Macron by Roger Stone’s apprentice.
It was also in 2017 that Stone and Posobiec launched a propaganda offensive to demonize Antifa, which stands for antifascism. Antifa is an ideology and left-wing movement whose adherents oppose fascism and white nationalism.
Unlike the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, Antifa has no national leaders or formal organizational structure. Stone’s network, however, has tried to get it designated as a terrorist organization.
During the summer of 2017, Stone was one of the top influencers promoting the Antifa hashtag as measured by engagement, according to disinformation researcher Dr. Caroline Orr. In October 2017, after Stone lost his Twitter account due to his targeted harassment of the media, Posobiec became the top promoter of Antifa propaganda on Twitter.
That month, after a mass shooting in Las Vegas, Posobiec promoted an unfounded claim that the shooting had been coordinated by Antifa and ISIS.
Two months later, as reported by journalist Michael E. Hayden, Posobiec falsely claimed that Antifa had “targeted trains for weeks” near the location of a deadly Amtrak train derailment. After an investigation, the derailment was attributed to human error and improper training and oversight, not domestic terrorism by Antifa or anyone else.
By then, Posobiec had also:
– Lied about working for CBS News,
– Planted a “Rape Melania” sign at an ant-Trump demonstration (to make the left look bad),
– Tried to goad anti-Trump protesters into chanting “assassinate Trump” (so he could film them),
– Promoted the Pizzagate lie by traveling to the pizzeria to “investigate” and livestreaming his visit, and
– Amplified a fake claim by a fake “Harrisburg Antifa” page about Antifa heading to Gettysburg to burn confederate flags and desecrate graves.
In June 2017, Posobiec had also organized a so-called “Rally Against Political Violence” in Washington, DC featuring Stewart Rhodes, the former Oath Keepers national chairman. In 2014, Rhodes and the Oath Keepers had participated in an armed standoff with federal agents, as discussed in Part 1.
Stone was slated to attend Posobiec’s rally, but he canceled due to alleged “security concerns.”
Rhodes has since been convicted of seditious conspiracy for his efforts to overthrow the U.S. government in 2021. In the run up to Jan. 6, he sent a message to his fellow Oath Keepers, which read “‘Conquer or Die. This needs to be our attitude.’”
Meanwhile, in the weeks preceding Posobiec’s so-called “anti-violence” rally in June 2017, Posobiec had amplified the lie that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had called for “blood in the streets.” Posobiec had also falsely claimed that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist Democrat, had told his supporters to “take down” Trump.
This type of propaganda from Posobiec and other members of Stone’s network deflected from the data, which has long shown that the vast majority of domestic extremist-related killings are caused by right-wing extremists, not left-wing extremists. (Link to tweet.)
As if to prove the point, the Oath Keepers patrolled the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. The rally had been organized by Richard Spencer and onetime Proud Boy Jason Kessler.
Proud Boy Enrique Tarrio attended the event as a member of FOAK, the Proud Boys since-disbanded military arm.
During Unite the Right, a peaceful protester named Heather Heyer was murdered by a white nationalist who drove his truck into the crowd, killing Heyer and injuring at least 9 other people. Before the murder, demonstrators carrying tiki torches had changed “Jews will not replace us.”
Before leaving Charlottesville, Spencer went on a tirade that was recorded by Milo. In the recording, Spencer said, “Little fucking kikes. They got ruled by people like me. Little fucking octoroons. *** my fucking ancestors enslaved those little pieces of fucking shit. *** Those fucking pieces of shit get ruled by people like me. *** That’s how the fucking world works.”
Stone tried to blame the bloodshed on George Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor. Jones tried to blame it on “globalists.” Posobiec promoted the lie that Heyer’s murderer was a leftist “anti-Trump open borders drug addict.”
In reality, the murderer was James Fields, a member of Vanguard America (a white supremacist group) who had reportedly tagged Posobiec in a tweet earlier that year, stating “The white race built modern civilization. Looking at all we’ve accomplished, no other race can even compete. #HitlerWasRight.”
Fields was later sentenced to life in prison for murdering Heyer and injuring dozens of other people at the event.
The Proud Boys and Alex Jones
The following year (2018), Stone seemed to go out of his way to promote the Proud Boys and appear at events with them.
Stone’s increasingly public embrace of the Proud Boys occurred against the backdrop of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential “collusion” between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government.
Lawmakers who might otherwise have considered impeachment were thus on notice that Stone had a violent gang at his beck and call.
Similarly, in both 2017 and 2018, Stone and InfoWars host Alex Jones warned of violence in the event of impeachment. In December 2017, they shot an InfoWars episode at a gun range where they encouraged Jones’s audience to prepare for civil war if the federal government tried to remove Trump from office.
In 2018, they claimed that Trump himself was “ready for civil war.”
As for Joe Biggs, court documents indicate that he joined the Proud Boys organization in 2018. Like Tarrio, Biggs is currently on trial for seditious conspiracy involving his alleged effort to stop the peaceful transition of power after Trump lost the 2020 election.
Before joining the Proud Boys, Biggs had worked for InfoWars. That job, however, ended soon after one of Jones’s followers fired gunshots inside a pizzeria due to the Pizzagate hoax spread by Biggs, Jones, Posobiec, and others.
Jones has said that Biggs’s departure was amicable and had nothing to do with Pizzagate. Based on reporting by journalist Michael E. Hayden, the decision to fire Biggs may instead have involved Biggs’s peddling of a side business and/or Biggs’s endorsement of sexual violence on Twitter, as detailed by Media Matters in January 2017.
By contrast, Jones had been seemingly unfazed by Biggs’s physical assault on a protester during the 2016 RNC, as discussed in part 1.
Biggs’s tweets about sexual violence apparently also caused the Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) to put the kibosh on a program that they piloted with Biggs in January 2017.
In July 2017, however, Biggs re-surfaced at a rally with Roger Stone in support of aspiring politician Omar Navarro, who had designs on California Representative Maxine Waters’ congressional seat. During the rally, Stone celebrated Biggs’s violent tendencies, introducing him as “a scrapper,” a “street fighter,” and a “patriot.”
After the rally, Navarro circulated a forged letter “that falsely indicated the congresswoman want[ed] to resettle tens of thousands of refugees in her LA district,” as reported in the Los Angeles Times.
Navarro lost the 2018 race and was later indicted for stalking an ex-girlfriend.
By 2018, Biggs seemed keen to have Roger Stone take him under his sinister wing. He attended an event with Stone in July 2018. And he helped Stone and his posse with the 2018 “Stop the Steal” campaign.
Here are a few more photos of Biggs from 2018. In the first, he’s with Engels, Posobiec, and Loomer. In the second, he’s with KellyAnne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
In October that year, ten Proud Boys associates were arrested after fighting with protesters in New York City. “[V]ideo obtained by the New York Times shows that the Proud Boys initiated the attack in Manhattan against a handful of anti-fascist protesters, not the other way around, as Mr. McInnes had initially said.”
After the New York brawl, McInnes nominally resigned from the group, which then appointed Tarrio as its national chairman.
Joe Biggs, a human powder keg, became Tarrio’s unofficial right-hand man. He was tasked with organizing and promoting Proud Boys events around the country.
As a top leader of America’s top political gang, Biggs was theatrical, almost cartoon-esque, in his celebration of violence.
Theatrics are one of the hallmarks of a Roger Stone production.
This type of “political theater” (or, as Stone calls it, “performance art”) can seem like a joke. But Jan. 6 and the 2000 election prove that it can have terrible, real-life consequences. And although Biggs and Tarrio seem poised to go to prison (depending on the outcome of their trial), Stone himself remains free as a bird.
We continue to underestimate the damage that Stone has wrought–and will continue to wreak– at our own peril.
Like Stone, Trump strives to destroy his critics. Just ask political commentator Cheri Jacobus who CNN abruptly stopped inviting onto its network after she publicly confirmed that Trump had lied when he claimed to have received no super PAC money during the 2016 election.
Many thanks to @gal_suburban and @lealovesusa (who are no longer on Twitter), as well as @RogerWants, for their important open source research about Roger Stone and his minions. I have learned so much from each of them. Their work informed many parts of this piece.