Shamelessness -- It's Every Republican's Superpower
Ashley Biden, at the 2022 White House Correspondents' DinnerCredit: Getty Images
August 28, 2022

I'm sure you know about this:

Federal prosecutors presented new evidence on Thursday implicating the conservative group Project Veritas in the theft of a diary and items belonging to Ashley Biden, President Biden’s daughter, laying out in court papers their fullest account yet of how allies of President Donald J. Trump tried to use the diary to undercut Mr. Biden in the final days of the 2020 campaign.

The court papers were filed in connection with the guilty pleas on Thursday of two Florida residents who admitted in federal court in Manhattan that they had stolen the diary and sold it to Project Veritas....

In their pleas, [Aimee] Harris, 40, and [Robert] Kurlander, 58, admitted they took part in a conspiracy to transport stolen materials....

Ms. Biden had left the diary at a friend’s home where she had been staying in Delray Beach, Fla., in 2020 and planned to return to retrieve it that year....

After Ms. Biden left, her friend allowed Ms. Harris, who was in a bitter custody dispute and struggling financially, to stay at the home. Ms. Harris learned that Ms. Biden had been living there and found her belongings, including the diary, in August.

She told Mr. Kurlander, who texted her that they could make a lot of money from the diary and family photos she had also found among Ms. Biden’s belongings. Mr. Kurlander ... then informed a Trump supporter and fund-raiser, Elizabeth Fago.

Ms. Harris and Mr. Kurlander took the diary to a Trump fund-raiser at Ms. Fago’s home, where it was passed around....

... Ms. Fago ultimately helped direct Ms. Harris and Mr. Kurlander to Project Veritas.

In news reports about the theft and sale of the diary, Elizabeth Fago is usually described as a wealthy Trump donor. But she's so much more. Here's a 2018 Palm Beach Post story written when a Fago company was, according to her, struggling to find the money to pay workers:

On a Tuesday in April, executives at NuVista Living at Wellington Green held meetings with anxious employees, hoping to calm fears and explain why paychecks had been late, held back or bounced in recent months.

Officials at the luxury rehabilitation and senior living facility blamed payroll problems on two factors: a delayed Medicare payment and a shortfall from an investment partner. NuVista officials, including chairwoman Elizabeth Fago, promised the workers they would be paid that coming Friday.

Then Fago, who lives in a $7 million home on the Intracoastal Waterway in Jupiter, told employees something else.

“I’d like to say a prayer for every one of us, that we not only make it to Friday, but we make it,” Fago said. “Pray as deepest and hardest as you ever have.”

The employees, some of whom are low-paid nursing assistants, formed a circle, held hands and prayed.

Shamelessness -- it's every Republican's superpower.


The leader of the vigil is a feisty, politically connected entrepreneur who was once a national nursing home magnate.

... Fago’s payroll company, owned with her son, Paul Walczak, owes a stunning $8.3 million in liens to the IRS for back payroll taxes....

NuVista investors and an investor in another venture, however, are in large part getting paid — at least $24 million since 2015, according to court records.

But life has been much more tenuous for the 400 full- and part-time employees at NuVista Living....

Not only have employees worried about getting their paychecks on time, off and on during the past six months, their health-care premiums weren’t always paid on time, workers said, forcing them to check with their insurance company before they saw a doctor.

As her payroll company fell behind in taxes, Fago contributed $26,209 to federal and state political organizations and candidates from 2014 to October 2016, according to the Federal Elections Commission and Florida Division of Elections. This includes $10,000 in October 2016 to Trump Victory, a joint fund-raising committee for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and Republican committees. Other contributions went to Gov. Rick Scott and Jeb Bush....

This is a pattern for Fago: giving to Florida Republicans and cheating everyone else, including the IRS. The Palm Beach Post spotted the pattern in 2004, when then-governor Jeb Bush put Fago on the board of a Florida research institute:

She and her companies have made gifts to Republican causes totaling at least $400,000 since 2001. She co-hosts fund-raising parties that rake in $400,000 a night and is closing in on the $1 million mark as a fund-raiser, making her a key player in the reelection campaigns of Republicans such as President Bush and U.S. Reps. Katherine Harris and Mark Foley.

... [But the] Palm Beach Post has found through public records that the Internal Revenue Service filed liens against her nine times to recoup unpaid income taxes. The last of these liens was cleared in May 2000, when Fago paid $75,000 she had owed for 15 years.

Fago also has been a defendant in at least 35 lawsuits brought by local residents, a landlord, merchants, lawyers, doctors, partners, an employee and financial services companies - primarily for nonpayment and breach of contract.

She also had some bumps in her personal life. For a time, she was married to a man who was a key figure in one of the largest, best organized drug gangs in Palm Beach County history.

She [told a reporter] said she had no contact with the man, Milton Keith Pinder, when he was running dope from the islands. According to court records, federal authorities nabbed Pinder for crimes committed between June 1983 and November 1985. He and Fago wed in June 1985. What Fago says she didn't know was that Pinder was part of the Pinder Cartel - a marijuana- and cocaine-importing gang brought down after a two-year investigation that reached as far as Pablo Escobar's empire in Colombia. Pinder pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was in jail until 1993.

But perhaps a charming personality leads people to ignore these ethical failings ... or maybe not:

As is the case with many people who work their way into the limelight, Fago has accumulated her share of detractors. One of them is a fellow member of the Palm Beach County Health Care District Board, the local panel that runs health care for the indigent. Jeb Bush appointed Fago to that board in 2002.

"Betsy is the Leona Helmsley of South Florida," the board member said, referring to the New York City hotelier famous for making employees cry and declaring that paying taxes was for "the little people."

"When you see her coming to meetings with a rhinestone-encrusted cellphone on which she makes loud calls about which politician should or should not be allowed on her jet, you feel like saying: 'We work for poor people. Why are you rubbing your wealth in their faces?'"

The board member, who asked to remain anonymous because of Fago's clout, called her "imperious." Fago herself admitted in a Post interview that some of the 120 employees at her company's headquarters on PGA Boulevard have taken to calling her "The Queen."

In 2013, when Governor Rick Scott named her to the board of Florida Atlantic University, the Broward-Palm Beach New Times called her "a bizarre melding of Zsa Zsa Gabor and Cruella deVille." And this appeared in the Palm Beach Sun:

Have you heard about..........The “most despised woman in Palm Beach” Elizabeth Fago Smith being named to the FAU Board of Trustees by Gov Rick Scott, thanks to her donations to his re-election campaign. Fago is based in PB Gardens and was married to Keith Pinder, a convicted drug cartel smuggler. When Palm Beach A-listers walk into a room and see her, they walk out, then send a note to the host to not invite them again if Fago will be there. Fago has been a defendant in dozens of lawsuits brought against her by local merchants, doctors, lawyers, business partners & employees.

In a horrifying way, Fago and Trump seem like an ideal match, as do Fago and James O'Keefe. These are the people who ran America until recently, and may run it again soon.

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