John Yob, the controversial wheeler-dealer of Michigan Republican Party politics, scooped up millions of dollars through a contract with the Republican National Committee that benefited the Donald Trump campaign, so much so that Yob now lives in an ocean front mansion in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Washington Post has a fascinating story today about a tangled web of GOP connections that led to a small Michigan-based company, with Yob as a key player, making an estimated $27 million by selling huge email lists of potential GOP donors to the RNC.
Relying on Federal Election Commission reports, the Post found that Yob had tapped into the highly lucrative business of selling and renting email lists through the firm Conservative Connector. The company had started out slowly in 2012 but hit the jackpot through a clique of GOP insiders.
In particular, Yob latched onto Ethan Elion, who began providing consulting services to the RNC for email fundraising in mid-2015.
Last December, the lucrative cashing-in that took place became obvious as Yob and Elion relocated to the Virgin Islands in a very big way. According to the Post, Yob used a limited liability corporation (LLC) to purchase a $4 million villa on the island of St. John.
The luxury estate features an indoor and outdoor pool, a waterfall and sunset views of the St. Thomas and Cruz Bay harbors.
Yob and Elion and their wives used their new digs to pull off a political coup, winning a high-profile power struggle last spring to become delegates – and exert control over the Virgin Islands delegation – to the Republican National Convention.
Yob, formerly of Grand Rapids, is the son of Chuck Yob, a longtime GOP kingmaker and a former Michigan representative on the RNC. It remains to be seen how the younger Yob might want to influence state GOP politics from afar.
If, as expected, MIGOP chair Ronna Romney McDaniel is chosen as the new RNC leader in the coming weeks, one potential candidate to take her state party seat is Ron Weiser. In 2009-11 Weiser served as state party chair in one of a long line of high-ranking positions within the GOP. Weiser is a multi-millionaire and previous RNC official who enjoys a close political alliance with party patriarch Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy, Trump’s choice for Education Secretary.
Weiser, who won a seat on the University of Michigan board in November (on a second try), also served on the national Trump fundraising cabal created by the RNC known as the Make America Great Again Committee.
It seems fairly obvious that the committee worked with Yob’s Conservative Connector company, so the speculative question is: Does Weiser have a financial interest in one of Yob’s LLCs?
The question is fair because the Post found that Conservative Connector’s cast of characters is hard to pin down. On corporate disclosure forms, Conservative Connector apparently lists the same Grand Rapids address as several companies run by Yob and Elion.
When contacted by the Post, Elion referred the newspaper’s questions about the email fundraising business to the RNC but it eventually fell upon Yob to respond.
“We are proud of the hundreds of millions of dollars we have helped raise for Republicans across the country in recent years, including the RNC and president-elect,” Yob said in a statement.
Yob’s resume as a campaign consultant extends to deputy political director of John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008, manager of Gov. Rick Snyder’s runs in 2010 and 2014, and national political director for Sen. Rand Paul in the 2016 presidential primaries.
With those connections, Yob tapped the enormous profits that lie waiting for those with a knack for creating email lists without the fundraising targets’ knowledge.
The Post found that in a space of just two days in late October, Yob’s list-broker company collected $6.6 million from Trump’s Make America Great Again Committee, and another payment for $4.7 million came Nov. 10, two days after the election.
Meanwhile, the compiled list of 10 million email addresses continues to pay dividends. Responding to online solicitations, post-election donors gave millions of dollars to the Trump campaign and the RNC in exchange for the receipt of an official “Trump Presidential Cap” or a “Make America Great Again” Christmas tree ornament (at $149 each.)
Photo: Fox News screenshot