Why did Trump’s PAC, MyPillow’s Mike Lindell, and state Rep. Janel Brandtjen suddenly give thousands of dollars to a northern Wisconsin GOP county party that is deeply involved with Adam Steen’s campaign?
President Donald Trump’s Save America PAC and MyPillow’s Mike Lindell suddenly gave an obscure northern Wisconsin Republican county party a combined $9,000 in August 2022, and, a short time later, that county party’s chairman told election decertification and Trump-endorsed write-in candidate Adam Steen that he was looking for another county party to “wash” money for Save America to help Steen take out powerful GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
The comments about washing money came in a conversation recorded this September between Steen and Langlade County GOP Chairman Terry Brand. Recordings, which you can listen to throughout this article, show that Brand and his vice chair are deeply involved in Steen’s determined efforts to oust Vos, the powerful GOP Assembly Speaker based in southeastern Wisconsin who earned Trump’s ire after refusing to decertify the 2020 election.
In an attempt to get Steen elected to Vos’s seat, which narrowly failed, Trump called Vos a Democrat from a stage in Waukesha County this August, even though Vos has a 93% conservative “excellence” ranking as a state legislator by the national CPAC organization in 2021 and 92% over his entire career.
Starting in July, with the primary looming, and as recently as November 2, the Langlade County GOP has directed a steady stream of money to Steen, funneling him at least $25,000 in cash and in-kind printing donations, almost 1/5th of his fundraising. On Oct. 31, Steen reported raising just over $133,000. A large portion of Langlade’s spending this summer went to Steen, who is hoping voters now write in his name on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Trump even went to the extraordinary lengths of recording an endorsement robocall this month for Steen in the state legislative race, helping him target the Republican leader.
Lindell and Trump’s PAC aren’t the only big donations that flooded into rural Langlade. Another big donor in August and July was Alan Blair, an IT executive from Virginia who was described as one of the country’s top donors to election decertification candidates in multiple other states. He maxed out to Steen, giving the candidate $1,000 directly (another $1,100 was returned to him by Steen’s campaign). He gave Langlade County’s GOP $8,000.
Here’s the bottom line: Although it’s legal for individuals or PACS to give county parties money, and county parties may legally give candidates unlimited funds, it is against state law for a PAC or individual to earmark or designate funds to a county party for a specific political candidate.
PACS and individuals are limited by state law to giving a candidate for Assembly $1,000 directly.
The reason for the earmarking statute is so PACS and individuals can not circumvent campaign finance limits by laundering the money through county parties or something else; to boil it down, they can give money, but they can’t tell the party to give it to a specific candidate. Save America and Lindell were both limited by law to directly giving Steen $1,000 each. Neither donated to Steen directly, the latest reports available show.
To be sure, taking on the entrenched Vos is no easy matter, especially when he controls Assembly purse strings and the opponent, Steen, is little known (at least until Trump endorsed him). Year-to-date, Vos has spent more than $400,000, his campaign finance reports show, including thousands of dollars in support from the state Republican Party. His supporters include lobbyists, GOP heavyweights, business people, and average folks. See his report here.
We started following the Steen money trail a few weeks ago when Wisconsin Right Now was given access to secret recordings that Steen made of phone calls between himself and top Republicans, including state Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, and the chairs of two county parties, Langlade and Chippewa County. What they all share in common is a steadfast belief that there was serious fraud in the 2020 presidential election and that, as a result, the election should be decertified. Brandtjen called for decertification this July. Standing in the way: Robin Vos.
The phone calls reveal that Brandtjen and the two county party chairs were deeply involved in helping Steen’s campaign, discussing funding and strategy.
Our source is a whistleblower who was concerned that potential campaign finance crimes might be captured on the calls; the source was given access by Steen to the recordings via the source’s own electronic device. The calls do not appear edited. In these calls, Steen also disparaged his own campaign staff and women (we wrote about those conversations previously).
After staffers heard the calls last month, a number of them, including his campaign manager, suddenly quit, and some are raising questions about the campaign finances on the record. In a now-deleted Facebook post, an upset staffer made the dispute public, saying some staffers were going to other campaigns. One-party consent taping is legal in Wisconsin, although the whistleblower claims the app Steen was using also recorded two other people speaking without their knowledge – the whistleblower and another person.
Thomas Koenecke, Steen’s former campaign manager, who gave Vos $1,000 in late September, told Wisconsin Right Now that there was a “complete total lack of transparency” by Steen toward him about finances. “As time went on, I learned more and more about his lack of transparency spending money we didn’t have,” he said. “That was one of the reasons, that and the recordings, that I pulled the pin and got the hell away from it.” He claimed that Steen wanted donors who maxed out to be diverted to Langlade County.
“I said what do we do in a situation like that? He said, ‘you can run things through other county parties.’ I can’t give you the exact verbiage, but the conversation was that we can get around that by going to these other counties, no big deal. It’s not a problem; we can do that.”
We’ve also documented: Two other small northern Wisconsin county GOP parties – Chippewa and Florence – received $5,000 each from Save America in late August; Chippewa County gave the money back to Trump’s PAC after a contentious meeting in which Peter Farrow, the brother of the state Party Chair, and a failed Attorney General candidate, Karen Mueller, raised legal concerns about it.
This angered the Chippewa County Party Chair, Amanda Radle, according to a recorded phone call between her and Steen over printing costs that Chippewa County was going to help pay, exposing a fissure in that county party between traditional Republicans and pro-Trump upstarts. Chippewa County ended up giving Steen $4,000 for direct mail as an in-kind donation, which has angered some in the county party who want it to go to local candidates and don’t understand why the northern Wisconsin party is helping a write-in candidate down south. Steen, the phone calls reveal, has aggressively targeted Republicans in Vos’s district with mailings urging them to write his name in on Tuesday.
The three Wisconsin county parties each received $5,000 from Save America PAC on Aug. 31, 2022, FEC records show.
Neither Chippewa nor Langlade county is anywhere near Vos’s southeastern Wisconsin district; they’re about 150 and 220 miles away in the northern tier of the state. Langlade County’s GOP is based in Antigo, population 8,100, and the Chippewa County GOP is based in Chippewa Falls, population 14,371. Florence County is the second least populous county in the entire state of Wisconsin. There are only 4,558 people who live in the entire county. The county is so far north it borders Michigan. It’s 260 miles away from Burlington, the heart of Vos’s district.
A notation on a Chippewa County GOP treasurer’s document, which we obtained from a source, claims the $5,000 sent to that party by Save America was a “designated” donation. We received the document from a member of the county party, but we have not been able to speak with the person who wrote the notation. She was in attendance at the meeting where the money transfer was debated, we were told.
Chippewa County GOP member Peter Farrow, who was at the meeting where the donation was discussed (one phone call reveals the debate was kept out of meeting minutes), recalled that Radle said “something along the lines of, ‘They asked us if they sent the Chippewa Party money, would the Chippewa party send it to blank.'” He said by “they” she was referring to the Trump organization.
He used the word “blank” because he said Radle was vague about who it would be sent to, although party members suspected Steen would be the beneficiary.
“She was vague. I don’t recall if she said where it was going. That was part of the question,” he told WRN. “Several members raised that it might not be legal. I was of a handful that cautioned that they should be very careful; this might be someone trying to skirt campaign finance rules.”
Florence County’s GOP’s money trail is even more curious; that party has not filed a campaign finance report. We traced the Save America donation to that county party only through Federal Election Commission filings for Save America. If that county has taken in or spent any other donations, they weren’t recorded in campaign finance reports.
Langlade County’s report indicates that Florence transferred $5,000 – the exact amount of the Trump donation – to Langlade County on Oct. 21, 2022.
In a recorded phone call with Langlade County GOP vice chair Leonard Boltz, Steen and Boltz went through a list of county parties that might help Steen. Then Steen mentioned Florence County.
“Terry was going to drive over there and talk to him,” said Steen, referring to Langlade chair Terry Brand and a Florence County GOP leader, describing it to Boltz as “the county you had found.”
State Republican Party Chair Paul Farrow, Peter’s brother, told Wisconsin Right Now that the party is going to investigate the expenditures. We called Farrow to ask for comment.
“It appears to me that there may be county parties skirting ethical standards,” he told Wisconsin Right Now. “We will review what counties are doing and hold them accountable if any improprieties are found.”
According to Transparency.org, Blair, the Republican Party of Florence County, Save America, and Michael Lindell make up 4 of the top 6 donors to the Langlade County GOP.
|$23,800.00||Jill and Karl Schulz|
|$5,000.00||Republican Party of Florence County|
According to campaign finance reports filed with the state of Wisconsin, here is how the money trail flowed:
2/28/22 Kevin Adam Steen gave Steen $1,000
7/7/22 Steen received a $1,987 in-kind donation from Langlade County (BINA Printing in Antigo)
7/13/22 The Steen campaign returned $1,100 to Blair (Blair had given the Steen campaign at least $2,000. Campaign finance limits are $1,000)
7/16/22 Langlade County gave Steen $8,725
7/18/22 Alan Blair gave Langlade County’s GOP $6,000
7/20/22 Steen received a $2,560.05 in-kind donation from Langlade County (American Quik Print)
7/22/22 Steen received a $429.95 in-kind donation from Langlade County (American Quik Print)
7/29/22 Langlade County gave Steen $2,025
8/2/22 Alan Blair gave $2,000 to Langlade County
8/3/22 Mike Lindell gave $4,000 to Langlade County
8/5/22 Langlade County gave Steen $4,000
==Steen lost the Republican primary to Vos on 8/9/22==
==Steen announces a write-in campaign against Vos on 8/19/22==
8/31/22 Save America PAC gave $5,000 to Langlade County GOP
8/31/22 Save America PAC gave $5,000 to Chippewa County GOP
8/31/22 Save America PAC gave $5,000 to Florence County GOP
09/01/22 Langlade County paid $15,000.25 to American Quik Print in Menomonee Falls (it’s not clear what this was for from the reports. However, it’s a printing shop in Menomonee Falls, which is located in Brandtjen’s district in southeastern Wisconsin, hours away from Langlade county. Steen’s report also indicates he uses that print shop, and other in-kind donations from Langlade to Steen wenet to that print shop).
09/21/22 Langlade County gave Steen $3,000
09/23/22 Chippewa County gave an in-kind donation to Steen for $4,000 in direct mail
10/21/22 Florence County gave Langlade County $5,000 (but didn’t file a campaign finance report on it)
11/2/22 Brandtjen gave Langlade County $3,000
11/2/22 Steen received $3,100 from Langlade County
Langlade County also spent $1,700 in “gifts” to Harry Wait, the Racine County man accused of a felony for illegally obtaining Vos’s ballot to make a point about election integrity vulnerabilities. In the most recent campaign finance report, Langlade gave $7,500 to a variety of other campaign committees. $3,000 of that went to Steen, who got the biggest donation.
Chippewa County also paid $3,000 in September to a North Carolina consultant who spoke to Steen in a recorded phone call about doing social media marketing for him in Vos’s district. It’s not clear what that Chippewa expenditure was for exactly.
The Save America PAC has disbursed more than $68 million. The Wisconsin county party donations are among only 41 disbursements in that category by Save America, some of them big ticket items to places like the Smithsonian or groups in Arizona and Georgia, where there are hotly contested midterm races. There are some other disbursements to local candidates in other states, such as Michigan, but no other donations to county parties in the country.
What sets the Wisconsin effort apart: The money went to county parties, not the candidates; and Trump has endorsed a little-known write-in candidate who is trying to topple a powerful REPUBLICAN leader who opposed election decertification, with the help of the county parties.
Adam Steen lost the August Republican primary to Vos by only about 260 votes and promptly announced he was running in the general election as a write-in. It was almost a shocking upset against a candidate who used to run away with his races. Causing more controversy, Vos hired former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to investigate state elections, generating piles of bad press in the liberal media, and then fired him after Gableman endorsed Steen. Steen also recorded a call with Gableman, in which Gableman strategizes with him and says he’s in contact with Trump.
Other recorded phone calls reveal that Chippewa County was paying some printing costs for Steen, who had lengthy recorded phone calls about the money with the chairs of Chippewa and Langlade Counties.
Koenecke, a plant manager for an agricultural center, was Steen’s campaign manager after the primary loss. He was one of multiple Adam Steen staffers who suddenly quit in early September.
“He (Steen) did talk about Langlade County,” Koenecke told Wisconsin Right Now.
Koenecke said he asked Steen what they should do if someone gave more than $1,000, over the legal limit, to his campaign.
It gets even more dramatic: Messages sent through Signal, which we have obtained, between Steen campaign workers in mid-August, allege that Steen specifically directed workers to send donors exceeding the $1,000 campaign finance limits to Langlade County’s GOP.
‘Going to Wash That Money’
In a recorded call, Adam Steen and Brand discussed how the Langlade and Chippewa County GOP parties would together pay for a $4,000 piece of direct mail for Steen’s write-in campaign against Vos. It appears the call took place in September 2022.
“We will worry about this $5,000 by identifying who that other county party is going to be that is going to wash that money for Save America,” Brand told Steen in a recorded conversation about who was going to pay for Steen’s campaign direct mail.
“Yeah,” Steen responded to Brand. Calls indicate the candidate was deeply involved with the county party funding issues.
“We’re playing musical money. You can report to the group so they can know exactly what their funding went to. I like telling people that. It’s beneficial for people to know what they’re doing with their money,” Steen told Brand.
The word before America was garbled because the men briefly spoke over each other in the call, but Brand acknowledged to us in an interview that he said Save America. In that interview, he added that using the word “wash” was inappropriate, and he should have used the word “process” instead.
“There is nothing in there I wouldn’t say at the steps of the Capitol,” he said of the calls with Steen. “I will say it over the PA system in the rotunda.”
He insisted, “I know there’s money laundering going on in places but not here,” calling the word “wash” a “play on words.”
Brand said: “We are processing money that is getting donated to my county party which an individual is able to contribute unlimited amounts of money to a county party.” He said donors to Langlade “support the things I do as a county chairman.”
We asked Brand what Save America’s representative said to him when they contacted him about transferring the money. “Sometimes they might mention some of the candidates they are supporting, ‘please use this to elect these conservative candidates in Wisconsin,'” he said at first, before later flatly denying that the Save America representative told Langlade where or to whom they wanted it spent.
Of donors in general, he said, “Some of the reason they send the money to a county party is they don’t really want people to know who they are supporting.”
“I think Trump is concerned about what happens in Wisconsin if we continue to allow Robin Vos to run roughshod over the Assembly,” said Brand. He acknowledged it was the first time his county party had received money from out-of-state, but he claimed that it’s because his county party has earned a name for itself with its pro-Trump pro-election integrity activism. He denied the money was earmarked.
As for the Lindell donation, Brand said a woman called and said, “I’ve been instructed to make a contribution to your local county party. I just need the process of how to do that.” Asked who did the instructing, he said he assumed Lindell.
Brand said he’s “sure” that at least a percentage of the Save America and Lindell money went to Steen, but he said the Langlade party commingles all of its funds together so to “track any dollars directly would be difficult.”
He added that it’s “impossible to track the money.”
He said Steen “asked if we got a donation from Save America after the deposit had been made,” and he said he talks to Brandtjen but not about Save America.
A Contentious Meeting
This same dynamic is playing out in neighboring Chippewa County with different results.
Chippewa County’s party has fractured down the middle between old-school Republicans and people brought into the party by Trump; its current chair, Amanda Radle, is no traditional GOP figure.
In fact, Radle was once accused of running her husband over with a Dodge Durango, causing serious injury, because he was trying to stop her from voting against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in his hotly contested recall election years ago.
On Facebook, Radle says she is Owner Operator at High Fives Towing & Transport LLC.
Bizarrely, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article at the time quotes Radle’s brother-in-law as saying of the incident, “These crazy liberal nuts are always pulling this crap,” revealing that Amanda’s husband backed Walker, but she did not. She was ultimately convicted of battery.
Adam Steen recorded some of his conversations with Radle too, who has resurfaced as the leader of the Chippewa County GOP to the dismay of the more traditional Republicans in the group, who include Peter Farrow, the brother of state GOP chair Paul Farrow.
In one phone call between Steen and Radle, she revealed that Farrow and former Attorney General candidate Karen Mueller had raised serious concerns about the $5,000 money transfer sent to that county by Trump’s Save America. The money was returned, but they discussed getting it back.
Steen told Radle, “…Don’t muddy the waters, if Save America dies, just let it die. We will use another county party.”
That call revealed that Republican state Rep. Janel Brandtjen was a conduit to Save America. Brandtjen, who was also recorded by Steen, was very involved in assisting Steen’s campaign, even helping design his direct mail and providing strategy.
“I am trying to play with some county parties that are really nice and friendly,” Steen told Brandtjen in one call. Brandtjen is known for her election integrity efforts and adamantly opposes Vos.
A campaign finance report for Langlade County, filed Nov. 5, 2022, shows that Brandtjen’s campaign committee gave the county party $3,000 on Nov. 2.
That same day, Langlade County gave Steen $3,100, according to a last-minute campaign finance report.
Campaign committees are also limited to giving Assembly candidates $1,000, according to the state Ethics Board.
We asked Brand about Brandtjen’s donation and whether any of it went to Steen, as it came in less than a week before the election. “She likes what we do, and we support her efforts,” he said on Nov. 6. “We have not yet allocated any funds that came in last week.”
We contacted Brandtjen when the calls first emerged, and she angrily insisted they were private conversations.
“Janel did tell me if I could get the executive committee on board, that she is sure that the PAC will send the money back,” Radle told Steen of Save America. “She understood, but she was frustrated.”
In phone calls, Brandtjen is so deeply involved in Steen’s campaign that she was even helping him word direct mail pieces. “The sooner we get out the word the better,” she said as they discussed who to send direct mail to using a list.
In one call, Steen expressed that he needed more money. He told Brandtjen “I have 4 sitting in Chippewa” but he wasn’t sure when he was actually getting the check, and he mentioned “Terry” being kind enough to offer him another $3,000. “Did Gableman write you anything?” Brandtjen asked, offering to “call a couple people…we should make the calls this weekend.”
In another call, Brandtjen told Steen she “talked to Amanda,” adding that she did not think the county parties understood how much power they had. “We’re teaching them right,” said Steen.
In yet another call between Steen and Brandtjen, he told her he was working with “one of Trump’s finance guys,” whose first name was Robert. The last name was hard to hear. “Robert’s been helping me a lot,” he said.
Brandtjen said in another tape that “Lenny and Terry” had “caught me at an event,” referring to Brand and Leonard “Lenny” Boltz, the Langlade Party’s vice chair. In that call, she expressed frustration that Radle and another woman were “under the impression that no longer we’re taking money from Save America.”
“So we are going to cut off the president’s money to fair and honest groups that get the opportunities for it?” she asked.
“Karen (Mueller) found out that there’s probes being done right now by Save America on donations,” Steen said, but Brandtjen responded that Save America had “worked really hard to make sure everything is on the up and up.”
In a call, Steen told Brandtjen, “I’m trying to play with some county parties that are really nice and friendly.” He said Chippewa was “a great county, but their board wants to have proof of life.. the board wanted to know that the mailer was ready…I’m trying to play the game.”
Boltz and Steen brainstormed about various county parties to approach. They were trying to remember the name of a county party that would help.
When Boltz noted that “Amanda, she fell through, right?” Steen responded, “I didn’t know that Paul Farrow’s brother was on her committee. That’s the sucky part.”
Boltz concurred that was a problem.
Steen told Boltz, speaking of Brandtjen, that “right after Lindell’s phone got taken, she started wiping everything daily.”
We reached out to Save America, Lindell, Brandtjen, Steen and Florence County. If we receive any comment, we will update this story
A Fractured Party
The story of how Donald Trump’s PAC ended up giving money to three northern Wisconsin GOP county parties in August of 2022, including Brand’s, is an interesting one that is caught up in the former president’s war against the “establishment,” remnants of the tea party movement, and a desire by some to overturn the 2020 election and shift the power from Madison to the local parties.
Chippewa, Florence, and Langlade Counties are in “Trump country,” the rural parts of the state where Trump signs remain plentiful; Vos and the state party’s leaders are from the more populous southeast, where Trump never ran as strong. In fact, Trump’s presidency reactivated Langlade’s party; it was basically defunct for eight years, Brand told us, but revived, gaining 160 new members in eight months. That’s a lot for Antigo, its headquarters, population 7,779.
Brand describes the landscape this way: There is a battle, he says, for control of county parties between the “old establishment and the new conservatives who came out of the tea party.” In two counties, Chippewa and Langlade, the “tea party have taken over leadership,” he said.
Deeply involved in Steen’s efforts: Brandtjen, the Menomonee Falls Republican who has made election concerns a cottage industry and was recently in the news when she was mailed fake military ballots, allegedly by a deputy election clerk now charged with a felony.
On the other side are conservative leaders like Vos and Paul Farrow, the chairman of the State Republican Party. Decertification, those opposed to it argue, would cost the Republican Party every statewide election and is unconstitutional besides. They believe the best way to reform the state’s elections – which they acknowledge have issues – is to elect a Republican to the governor’s mansion. And therein lies the conflict.
The money transfers have caused rumblings among other county party chairs in Wisconsin, who noticed them too. One was Erin Decker, the chair of Kenosha County’s GOP down south. She is also a Kenosha County supervisor.
We started investigating the money transfers after hearing the Steen recordings with Brand, Radle and Brandtjen. However, we later discovered that Decker had noticed the same campaign finance record trail.
“The Republican Party of Wisconsin has offered numerous treasurer training classes, so any county party treasurer and chair should know the campaign finance laws,” she told us in an interview.
The Blair donations “sparked” her concern. “I noticed he was giving to a different county party up north, and Langlade was going to Steen,” she said.
Decker believed some of the money transfers in the Steen and Langlade reports looked like “earmarking and that’s a violation of campaign finance laws.”
Decker alleged: “It’s obvious that people were shopping around for county parties that had a bone to pick with Robin and don’t want to see him win.”
Although Brand and Radle deny doing so, Decker alleged: “They’re willing to break the law to see that Robin Vos loses. It gives the Republican Party a horrible name.”
She said that she called the state Republican Party of Wisconsin “when I discovered this.” She told the state party: “You have to tell them they can’t do this; it’s illegal.”
Brand and Radle deny that any money to Steen was earmarked.
To Brand, it’s perfectly understandable why a PAC run by the former Leader of the Free World and a well-known national personality like the “My Pillow Guy” would choose Langlade County for its sudden largesse.
“We don’t sit on our ass like the other 71 counties,” he told us. “They sit back and take the crap of Robin Vos. We get involved.” Asked how Save America and Lindell learned about Langlade County, Brand suggested that they probably Googled it.
In 2022, Brand’s county party passed a resolution saying Joe Biden was not “legitimately elected” and formally rejecting certification of the 2020 election results. His central beef with Vos, though, focuses less on the election and more on how the Republican speaker controls money, deciding which local candidates to help and which to dry up. Devil’s advocates would argue that this is how Vos keeps majorities, his central role as speaker, but Brand sees it as authoritarian control.
Trump and Lindell had not given to the county parties before, a review of campaign finance records shows.
Two former Steen campaign workers – including his campaign manager – told Wisconsin Right Now that Steen told them that any donations over the $1,000 legal limit should be run through county parties. One provided us with a text exchange through Signal from August 16 that indicates that donations over the limit should go to Langlade County’s GOP. They were written before multiple Steen staffers quit en masse after hearing the recordings.
“Adam, told me that RPLC info is not public and is only for people that donated over $1,000. I didn’t look at yesterday’s donations yet but up through the 13th everyone who donated more than a $1,000 has been given that info,” reads one message, sent over Signal. “He said for now Langlade…” said the response. RPLC refers to the Republican Party of Langlade County. Another text says “payable to RPLC…This is for anything donated over $1,000 in a calendar year.”
In a phone call, Steen and Radle spoke about the party helping pay a $4,000 invoice for printing. They said that money didn’t come from Save America, though. However, in the call, Radle told Steen the Save America money was being used to “pay an invoice.”
“I have to be honest I don’t know what Save America is; I know it’s some kind of PAC affiliated with Trump,” Radle told Steen. “…They sent us funds, and we were sending it somewhere else to pay an invoice, and Peter Farrow jumped all over that, and it sounds like campaign finance laws are trying to be broken, so, here is where the issue came in with my board.”
We asked Radle about all of this and she sent us this statement, “We had the opportunity to receive the funds from Save America, but ultimately we declined them. Receiving and distributing the funds is legally, ethically, and morally sound. Our decision was based on the lack of unanimity within the leadership.”
Another Adam Steen phone call captures the Langlade Chair indicating they expected Chippewa County to kick in $1,000 for Steen’s direct mail.
Steen and Brand trashed Peter Farrow by name in a phone call, and in another call Radle discussed the meeting where the Save America transfer became a hot topic.
After hearing this call, we contacted Peter Farrow and asked whether he was at that meeting, which occurred in September 2022. He said there were about 30 people in the room.
“At the meeting, I don’t remember who. Someone questioned the $5,000 that came in from that organization and where it went,” he said. “And she (Radle) told us the organization that it came from but was vague on where it went. It sounded like it had already been disbursed by the time we had our club meeting in the middle of September.”
We asked which organization gave the $5,000. “Amanda Radle, she said it was coming from one of the Trump organizations. It was clear it was coming from the Trump circle,” he said, adding, “That’s a huge amount for a county party. We never got a check from Save America before as far as I recall.”
When we told Peter Farrow that he was trashed by name in a recording, he said, “I obviously was enough of a pain that they talk about me by name, which is hysterical.”
Farrow said he was speaking out on the record because “campaign rules exist for a reason, and they are the same reasons that the election rules that many people have had concerns that were broken last time exist. There is no ends justifying any means. If people don’t follow rules, they don’t follow rules, and it’s all wrong. I’ve always been a stickler for the rules. Someone else breaking some rule is never justification for you to break something else.”
He added: “We should be spending all of our money to defeat Democrats.”
Farrow believes the money transfers to the Langlade County Republican Party don’t pass the smell test, either. It is inexplicable that a county party in northern Wisconsin would worry about a write-in campaign against a sitting Republican in another area of the state, he said.
Peter and Paul Farrow are the sons of former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, an icon in GOP circles.
Paul Farrow said the allegations “sound as bad as the Zuckerbuck dollars.” If there was nothing improper going on, he said, why wouldn’t the PAC or individuals have just given the candidate the money, within limits? To be clear, we contacted the Farrows after being given access to the recordings by the whistleblower.
Koenecke, the campaign manager, said he thought it was “odd” when he learned Steen was recording so many phone conversations.
He added, “I was trusting him that he knew what he was doing as far as campaign finance laws go; that evaporated in short order.”
“My eyebrow was up from the very beginning. I am not quite sure what he was up to,” said the former campaign manager.
“I heard him having these conversations with people I call grifters, from South Carolina, California, North Carolina. I’m like, ‘You’re running a local campaign here. What the hell are you doing with all of these people. Where is all this money coming from? I am not comfortable. I can’t get a straight answer. I don’t know who is paying what. Where in the hell are you getting all this money?’”
He said Adam Steen kept saying “Lindell was going to give me money.” One of the recorded phone calls captures Steen speaking with a woman from Lindell’s office about the possibility of getting Lindell to Wisconsin to stump for him.
A long-time former Steen campaign volunteer told Wisconsin Right Now: “We were told specifically from Adam, and so I can recall he said it, it came out of his mouth, it’s 100% certain. He said all donations over $1,000 went to Langlade County. We were worried that a donation would come in and be too high. He said, ‘It’s got to go to Langlade County.’ He said it more than once and to multiple people.”
She does not want to be named in the story because she fears harassment from other Steen supporters. She said volunteers were aware of campaign finance limits of $1,000. “That was explained to us explicitly.”
She said that Chippewa County “took more the role of buying things with the money versus Langlade; we knew that’s where big money went.”
Brand & Adam Steen Discuss the Langlade County Party’s Role
After the washing comment, in their recorded phone call, Langlade’s chair Brand and Steen talked about a court hearing involving Gableman.
One comment Adam Steen made in the recording indicates that Janel Brandjten was a conduit back to Save America.
“I’ll leave that to you. That information needs to get to Janel so she can get it to Save America. Otherwise we’re not sweating too much,” said Steen, referring to Brandjjen. It wasn’t clear whether that information was the Gableman hearing or the printing costs.
“I’ll take some checks with me, some envelopes and stamps, so I can get this in the mail to you,” Brand responded.
“Moving on boss, keep pounding this guy,” Steen told Brand, referring to Vos.
“Sounds good,” said Brand.
In the recording, Steen also said to Brand, “I talked to Amanda, and she’s having an executive meeting on Thursday. They have no problem with the money for me, the $4,000 they’re going to give me. I called the printer.” The conversation appears to have occurred before the meeting where some people wanted the Save America money refunded.
There are lengthy conversations between Steen and Brand about printing costs, some discussing what Amanda would contribute.
Adam Steen continued, “If you can kind of…either decide to hold on to your three or send it to us to the campaign and then we can use it for mailers or for sign material, Amanda Radle said they are okay with sending it out to the printer. It’s just not going to happen tomorrow. If you’re okay with sending it down by us that would be just fine.”
He said he was trying to get money to hold an event with Lindell. Steen then complained about the cost of big events.
“If I can recover the 5 grand and break even, I’ll be happy to give people a picture with Lindell,” he explained to Brand. “I didn’t realize how expensive these events are.”
“I’ll get that in the mail today,” said Brand.
In a second phone call, Steen said he spoke to Amanda, who “ended up talking to” Brandtjen.
Steen revealed to Brand that “apparently Paul Farrow’s brother Peter is in their group somewhere… I had no idea. I didn’t realize it was Paul Farrow’s brother.” He compared him to a “henhouse” and “fox.”
“He’s a pain in the butt,” said Brand.
Steen discussed Radle being willing to pay for printing costs.
Steen then said: “Is it easier for your purposes for accounting if we’re playing musical money here right? No one cares where the money goes, just whether it comes from.”
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