FBI searches Republican political consulting firm in Annapolis

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Federal authorities on Thursday searched a political consulting firm in Annapolis that has worked with Republican candidates nationwide and was sued in 2014 on allegations of fraudulent fundraising practices.

The Strategic Campaign Group bills itself as helping Republican candidates for every step of a campaign. Its principals are GOP strategists Kelley Rogers and Chip O’Neil.

Rogers said in an interview that FBI agents had collected documents related to the firm’s direct mail and fundraising practices.

Lindsay Ram, a spokeswoman for the FBI field office in Washington, confirmed that agents were “conducting law enforcement activity in Annapolis, off Main Street.” She said no additional information would be made public by the agency on Thursday.

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) , alleging that the firm controlled a political action committee that raised almost $2.2 million under the guise of helping his 2013 gubernatorial campaign, but steered little of that money to support him. The political group, called the Conservative Strike Force, agreed to pay Cuccinelli $85,000 to settle the lawsuit the next year, and Strategic Campaign Group agreed to turn over donor information.

The Conservative Strike Force has paid Strategic Campaign Group nearly $500,000 for services since 2011, according to federal records.

In 2016, Strategic Campaign Group was paid by Maryland House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke and GOP Maryland Congressional candidates Patrick McDonough and Charles Faddis, state and federal records show.

It also worked to support Republican Kathy Szeliga’s unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat against Chris Van Hollen.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

Elise Viebeck, Peter Hermann, Matea Gold, Steven Rich and Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report



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