Isaiah Wartman, who has served as campaign manager for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), has been implicated along with two others in a scam in which money was ostensibly raised to support the local community after the infamous train derailment in the area of East Palestine, Ohio, that sent potentially dangerous chemicals into the local environment. Most of the money raised didn’t actually go towards supporting members of the community, and now, Wartman, Luke Mahoney, and Michael Peppel are paying financial penalties.
Peppel co-founded the sham charity organization, while Wartman and Mahoney were with a separate fundraising entity, WAMA Strategies. The Greene campaign has paid this firm tens of thousands of dollars for work on fundraising efforts. Under the terms of an arrangement with state investigators, Wartman and Mahoney were obliged to pay a total of over $25,000, which would cover restitution for a local food bank and costs incurred by the team of Ohio state Attorney General Dave Yost. Peppel, meanwhile, will now be under a lifetime ban on starting or running any charity organization in the state of Ohio.
Attorney Bryan Kostura, representing the firm associated with Wartman and Mahoney, claimed the two were also victimized by Peppel’s fraud and took ostensibly corrective action once they became aware of where the money was actually going. Kostura said the two “did what was right and gave back all of their profits for this entire engagement to the people of East Palestine,” according to Cleveland.com’s reporting.
Peppel, meanwhile, has his own history with Republican elected officials, having previously been on staff with Rep. Bill Johnson (Ohio). This situation roughly mirrors infamous circumstances involving prominent Trump ally Steve Bannon, who has now been charged a second time (this time at the state level) in connection to a fundraising scheme in which money meant for a southern border wall actually went largely towards personal expenses for Bannon and others involved in the project.