Tony Fabrizio

A mysterious payment to Paul Manafort’s lawyer reveals a hidden chapter of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign CNBC Christina Wilkie “One of these positions was leading a pro-Trump super PAC that Manafort helped to establish in June 2016 called Rebuilding America Now.

To run the group, Manafort tapped an old friend, Connecticut-based lobbyist Laurance “Laury” Gay. A former official in President Ronald Reagan’s administration, Gay went on to work at Manafort’s lobbying firm in the late 1980s. He is also the godfather to one of Manafort’s daughters.

With Manafort’s blessing and Gay at its helm, Rebuilding America Now raised more than $24 million between June and December 2016, more than any other pro-Trump super PAC did during the entire election.

According to the transcript from a Feb. 4 hearing in Manafort’s trial, prosecutors believe that in 2017, Rebuilding America Now under Gay’s leadership also played a central role in what they describe as a “scheme” to provide Manafort with “a way of getting cash” out of his time as the unpaid chairman of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The payment

Manafort’s decision to take a volunteer job at the top of Trump’s presidential campaign drew national attention to his lobbying career. By the summer of 2017, Manafort was the target of multiple investigations into his personal finances, campaign work and foreign lobbying.

Faced with mounting legal bills, Manafort reached out to Gay in June of that year and asked him to arrange a $125,000 payment to Manafort’s lawyers, according to both prosecutors and Manafort’s defense attorneys. Rather than give Manafort the money himself, however, Gay called someone else.

“At the request of Paul Manafort, Laury [Gay] asked that funds be forwarded to an entity designated by Mr. Manafort to assist with his legal expenses,” said Anthony J. Iacullo, a criminal defense attorney who represents Gay, in a recent interview with The New York Times.

It’s not clear why Manafort asked for this specific amount. In an emailed response to CNBC, Iacullo said Gay “has not been charged with any wrongdoing nor has he done anything that violates any federal or state laws.” He added that “out of an abundance of caution and respect for the process itself, we decline to comment any further at this time.”

CNBC attempted to reach Gay several times, but the phone at Gay’s Canaan, Connecticut-based consulting firm, Business Strategies & Insight, had been disconnected.

In order to get the $125,000, Gay reached out to someone else, whose name is redacted in court filings. Prosecutors described the person as having “a long relationship” with Manafort. Manafort’s defense attorneys said the person had “been a vendor on all these campaigns [Manafort has] used in the past.”

Crucially, in a January court filing the special counsel also noted that this person ran a firm that had been paid “approximately $19 million” by the super PAC that Gay was running in 2016.

There is only one firm that received anything near $19 million from Rebuilding America Now. And reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that this firm received almost exactly $19 million, leaving little doubt about which firm it was that prosecutors were referring to.

It is a political ad-buying firm called Multi Media Services Corporation, or MMSC, based in Alexandria, Virginia.

At first glance, MMSC appears to be a small, two-man shop with no obvious ties to Manafort or anyone else with whom Manafort has “a long relationship.” Moreover, there are no signs that either of the principals at MMSC was ever “a vendor on all these campaigns [Manafort has] used in the past,” which is how Manafort’s lawyers described the person who ran this firm.

But there is more to MMSC than meets the eye. Interviews and corporate records unearthed by CNBC have revealed that MMSC has a silent owner: Tony Fabrizio, a longtime Manafort associate and the chief pollster on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Fabrizio’s dual role as: a) the owner of MMSC, which was the biggest vendor to the top pro-Trump super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, and b) the Trump campaign’s lead pollster, has not been reported until now.”

Wikipedia Anthony Fabrizio (born 1960) is an American Republican pollster and strategist. In February 2018, he was questioned by Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel team about polling data shared with pro-Kremlin pro-Putin individuals. He is the principal in Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, and was the pollster for Donald Trump‘s fall 2016 Presidential campaign, former Senator Bob Dole‘s 1996 Presidential campaign, U.S. Senator Rand Paul‘s U.S. Senate and 2016 Presidential campaign, and former Governor Rick Perry‘s 2012 Presidential campaign, among others. He also served as a pollster for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the 2014 midterm elections.

Fabrizio is a silent owner of Multi Media Services Corporation (MMSC).[1] MMSC was the biggest vendor to the top pro-Trump Rebuilding America Now super PAC.[1]

In 1996, Fabrizio served as chief pollster and strategist to Bob Dole‘s Presidential campaign, which was unsuccessful. He has also worked for several dozen U.S. Senators and Governors, including Tim Pawlenty, Rand Paul, Bill Cassidy, David Perdue, among others. During 2012 and 2013, he received $250,000 for his efforts to assist Paul Manafort‘s pro-Russia, pro-Kremlin, pro-Putin efforts in Ukraine.[2][a] He was also pollster for the Republican Governor Association’s campaign to reelect Governor Scott Walker in 2014. He also served as the pollster for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce‘s independent campaign effort that helped elect six new Republican Senators and re-elect three Republican incumbents in 2014.[10][11]

In 2015, he served as pollster for successful gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin in Kentucky, and that year also aided Rand Paul’s Presidential campaign.[11] Following Paul’s exit from the race, Fabrizio was hired by the campaign of Donald Trump as Chief Pollster, joining fellow pollsters Kellyanne Conway and John McLaughlin (Fabrizio’s former business partner).[12][13] Fabrizio’s hiring as Trump’s pollster came as a surprise to political analysts, pointing to Trump’s past opposition to pollsters, with Trump stating in an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, “I don’t have pollsters. I don’t want to waste money on pollsters. I don’t want to be unreal. I want to be me. I have to be me.”[12] He and Conway were among those representing the Trump campaign at Harvard University’s post-election roundtable.[14] Fabrizio is also longtime friends with former Trump advisers Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.[15]

In October 2016, it was reported in multiple media outlets that Trump was refusing to pay for Fabrizio’s polling services, with the Federal Election Commission report showing that Trump’s campaign was disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio’s firm said it was still owed for polling.[16][17]. Fabrizio has additionally worked with clients including Visa, Hewlett-Packard, Bank of America, AOL/Time-Warner, FedEx, Pfizer, and Harrah’s, among others.[10]

In February 2018, Fabrizio was questioned by Robert Meuller’s team to determine if voter information and polling data was shared with the Kremlin during the 2016 United States elections.[2] On January 8, 2019, Paul Manafort’s attorneys failed to redact and inadvertently revealed that Mueller‘s prosecutors knew that 2016 voter information and polling data had been shared with pro-Kremlin Ukrainians through Konstantin Kilimnik to Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov.[2][18][19]

Fabrizio is a Brooklyn native, and grew up on Long Island in New York.[12]” Wikipedia