Joe Kent speaking at a neofascist rally
Joe Kent speaking at a neofascist rally

The con­gres­sion­al cam­paigns of ultra MAGA Repub­li­can Joe Kent, who is present­ly seek­ing a rematch with Unit­ed States Marie Glue­senkamp Perez in Wash­ing­ton’s Third Dis­trict, take the shape of a polit­i­cal ice­berg. The bulk of that metaphor­i­cal ice­berg is sub­merged with dan­gers that may go unheeded.

On the sur­face, Kent has tak­en in more than $1 mil­lion for his sec­ond House bid. He boasts of friends in high places. Joe has col­lect­ed cam­paign dol­lars in Flori­da at Mar-a-Lago and car­ries endorse­ments from Don­ald Trump and Don­ald Trump, Jr. He has staged a fundrais­er at the Capi­tol Hill Club in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matt Gaetz, R‑Florida – who oust­ed Kevin McCarthy – as lead host.

Kent is backed by a super PAC called the Pacif­ic North­west Polit­i­cal Action Com­mit­tee. He has been endorsed by the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, which has joined the Joe Kent Vic­to­ry Fund in spon­sor­ing a Jan­u­ary 19th fundrais­er in Longview. He is already hold­ing cam­paign meet­ings across the dis­trict, and has recent­ly released a radio spot.

But ques­tions remain from his 2022 campaign.

What exact­ly does Kent do for a liv­ing? An estranged for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er has claimed he has a no-show job. How did it come to pass that Kent was able to loan $205,000 to his own cam­paign? We can go on ask­ing, but as Glue­senkamp Perez’s polit­i­cal con­sul­tant Sandeep Kaushik notes, “The prob­lem is the FEC (Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion) is tooth­less and won’t do anything.”

The Dai­ly Beast has just tak­en a deep dive look at what lies beneath the sur­face of the Kent cam­paign. It found a can­di­date try­ing to dis­tance him­self from a prob­lem­at­ic advi­sor with white nation­al­ist ties. An appar­ent shell com­pa­ny dis­guis­es who’s being paid. And there’s what could be over­lap between the Kent cam­paign and the pro-Kent super PAC, which by law can­not collaborate.

The advis­er is one Matt Braynard.

Bray­nard was a hon­cho from the 2016 Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and an elec­tion denier fol­low­ing Trump’s loss in 2020. He was also a voice of the 2022 Kent cam­paign, now say­ing he has “vol­un­teered my ser­vices” in the 2024 effort. He offi­cial­ly stopped work­ing for Kent in Novem­ber of 2022, but his byline has shown up as recent­ly as last month on a cam­paign’s meta­da­ta and source code.

“The mon­ey trail sug­gests not only that the two men (Kent and Bray­nard) remain tight, but that they’re so close that the rela­tion­ship may have crossed into a for­bid­den form of polit­i­cal incest,” accord­ing to the Dai­ly Beast.

Bray­nard is known for such pro­nounce­ments as post­ing on Twit­ter: “The World would be a bet­ter place when Ger­many is again proud of its history.”

The Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion has reg­is­tered a firm called QEB Con­sult­ing, reg­is­tered by Bray­nard’s wife. It has received $64,000 for work on Ken­t’s behalf, start­ing with $22,000 paid by the pro-Kent PAC for an email blast.

The blast went out in Novem­ber of 2022, the day before Bray­nard stopped field­ing calls for the Kent campaign.

A key ques­tion is whether Bray­nard took the man­dat­ed time required between his role in the offi­cial cam­paign and the work he has since done with the Pacif­ic North­west Polit­i­cal Action Com­mit­tee. Fed­er­al law requires staff and ven­dors to observe a 120-day “cool­ing off peri­od” between roles.

Cam­paigns and PACs are sup­posed to remain sep­a­rate, although a super PAC called Nev­er Back Down has been han­dling mat­ters such as pres­i­den­tial cam­paign sched­ul­ing for Flori­da Gov­er­nor Ron DeSantis.

Bray­nard had angry words for Dai­ly Beast, say­ing in an email: “It is rep­re­hen­si­ble and sex­ist to sug­gest that my wife, who has spent ten years as an advi­sor to my own polit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm and as a news­room man­ag­er for one of the largest media agen­cies in the world, is not capa­ble of estab­lish­ing and run­ning her own polit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm com­plete­ly inde­pen­dent of me.”

(The media firm in ques­tion is AFP… Agence France-Press.)

Bray­nard is exec­u­tive direc­tor of an out­fit called Look Ahead Amer­i­ca, which has tak­en a lead­ing role as defend­er and advo­cate for those fac­ing crim­i­nal charges for their role in the Jan­u­ary 6rg, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

It has staged ral­lies in sev­en­teen states and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and filed a for­mal com­plaint with the Unit­ed Nations Human Rights Com­mit­tee. Joe Kent spoke at the D.C. ral­ly. Dai­ly Beast reports that Bray­nard has been paid $190,000 as a con­sul­tant, tes­ti­fy­ing in elec­tion chal­lenges in four states.

The polit­i­cal oper­a­tions of Kent and his friends have foot­prints all across Amer­i­ca. Joe is run­ning for Con­gress in South­west Washington.

The “Joe Kent Vic­to­ry Fund” address is a post office box in Bat­tle Ground. QEB Con­sult­ing is head­quar­tered in Vir­ginia. The pro-Kent PAC pays two firms out of a post office box in Wis­con­sin. A firm called “HWY99 Cor­po­ra­tion”, reg­is­tered in Delaware, has account­ed for two-thirds of Kent cam­paign spending.

It han­dles such tasks as media place­ment, dig­i­tal con­sult­ing, legal & cam­paign con­sult­ing, plus print­ing and bill­boards. The cam­paign pays its bills to an address at 499 S. Capi­tol Street, #405, Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

The trea­sur­er for Joe Kent for Con­gress, as well as the super PAC, is one Tom Datwyler. He is a cam­paign com­pli­ance spe­cial­ist whose firm 9Seven Con­sult­ing works on cam­paigns all over the coun­try. Datwyler was announced last year as trea­sur­er for then-Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive George San­tos, R‑New York, but appar­ent­ly turned down the job. (San­tos was expelled from Con­gress last month.) The Kent cam­paign was ordered to pay $3,304 in fines for fail­ing to file notices for $29,600 in income dur­ing the 2022 campaign.

The cutouts are dizzy­ing, but their pur­pose seems sim­ple: The Kent cam­paign has ties that it is con­ceal­ing, in par­tic­u­lar its pay­roll. In words of the Dai­ly Beast, FEC records show that since August of 2022 “the cam­paign has rout­ed the major­i­ty of its expens­es through what legal experts said appears to be a shell com­pa­ny. The scheme has the effect of hid­ing the iden­ti­ties of who the cam­paign is ulti­mate­ly pay­ing, which the experts said could run afoul of dis­clo­sure rules.”

It appears, too, that pay­ments to Bray­nard by the Kent cam­paign and the pro-Kent PAC may have over­lapped. In the words of Sandeep Kaushik: “They’re clear­ly skirt­ing cam­paign finance and dis­clo­sure laws, and ille­gal­ly coor­di­nat­ing between the cam­paign and the super­PAC. Very typ­i­cal of how Joe and Matt Bray­nard oper­ate. They learned noth­ing from the last campaign.”

Its mem­ber­ship even­ly divid­ed between Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats; the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion is vir­tu­al­ly par­a­lyzed. Dan Got­tlieb of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee has sought to shine a light on what lies beneath the sur­face, say­ing in a state­ment: “Joe Kent does­n’t just pal around with insur­rec­tion­ist sym­pa­thiz­ers, it seems he’s also hid­ing pay­ments to them using ’ what legal experts say what appears to be a shell com­pa­ny.’ South­west Wash­ing­ton will judge Kent by his far-right beliefs and the extrem­ist com­pa­ny he keeps – and will hold him to account in November.”

Per­haps. The mar­gin in 2022 was paper-thin, and the rematch in 2024 is rat­ed a tossup. Glue­senkamp Perez is a Blue Dog Demo­c­rat, putting dis­tance between her­self and par­ty lead­ers. She has immersed her­self in dis­trict issues, joined Repub­li­cans in cospon­sor­ing a stream of bipar­ti­san leg­is­la­tion, and bro­ken with the Biden admin­is­tra­tion on such issues as relief from stu­dent debt repayment.

But the 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict is Wash­ing­ton’s blue col­lar bas­tion. Don­ald Trump car­ried it in both 2016 and 2020 and is almost cer­tain to be atop the bal­lot once more this year. House can­di­date Joe Kent may have the ben­e­fit of a tailwind.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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One reply on “New reporting shines light on Joe Kent’s bad bookkeeping, shady campaign operations”

  1. Please keep pro­vid­ing us vot­ers in South­west Wash­ing­ton with cred­i­ble information.

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