The whistleblower behind the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry may have violated government regulations by using his office and his access to classified information to enrich himself on GoFundMe, a new complaint alleges. Anthony Gallo, managing partner at the law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC, sent a letter to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) passing on the allegations from a source with a top-secret SCI security clearance who has served in government.
The GoFundMe fundraiser, entitled “Help the Intel Community Whistleblowers,” has raised $227,537 as of Tuesday morning. According to the complaint, first reported by Fox News, the donations from roughly 6,000 individuals “clearly constitute” gifts to a current intelligence official. This may violate 5 CFR 2635.203 and other government statutes.
“I have not seen anything on this scale,” Gallo told Fox News, referring to the $227,537 raised on GoFundMe. “It’s not about politics for my client — it’s whistleblower-on-whistleblower, and [my client’s] only interest is to see the government ethics rules are being complied with government-wide.”
Earlier this year, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) warned federal government employees that they “may not accept any gift given because of the employee’s official position,” meaning that the gift would “not have been given had the employee not held the status, authority, or duties associated with the employee’s federal position.” OGE also warned that gifts may not be accepted from “prohibited sources,” such as anyone whom the employee’s agency regulates or anyone who has interests affected by the employee’s work.
Gallo filed this complaint to ICIG Michael Atkinson, the same government watchdog who originally received the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry. Atkinson is protecting that whistleblower’s identity, even though various news reports have tentatively identified him as Eric Ciaramella.
“[M]y client believes … that the federal employee you are protecting and their attorneys apparently have strategically weaponized their alleged whistleblowing activities into a very lucrative money-making enterprise using a charity incorporated under a different name than the trade name it is using for fund-raising purposes, which would appear to my client to be a clear abuse of the federal employee’s authority and access to classified information,” Gallo wrote in the letter to Atkinson.
The organization Whistleblower Aid, also known as Values United, launched the GoFundMe fundraiser. Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the impeachment whistleblower, co-founded this organization. Values United tax documents show it paid $258,085 for advertising and consulting services to West End Strategy Team.
That complaint also asked the ICIG to investigate whether or not some of the 6,000 GoFundMe donors may be foreign citizens or agents of foreign governments.
Gallo’s letter concluded: “We are requesting you investigate whether [criminal statutes or regulations have] been violated by the federal employee you are protecting when they reportedly requested an investigation into a matter that they had no direct personal knowledge of, and on account of which they were able to obtain sizeable gifts from unknown persons because of their official duty.”
The identity of the impeachment whistleblower has caused no end of controversy. If RealClearInvestigations is correct in identifying Ciamarella as the whistleblower, it seems pertinent to note that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report cites Ciamarella — for email summaries of a meeting between President Trump and Russian officials, emails that were subsequently leaked to the media.
Zaid himself had previously predicted Trump’s impeachment, and celebrated a deep state “coup” against the president in 2017 tweets. When those tweets were revealed, Zaid stood by them, claiming he had reflected the sentiments of “millions of people.”
The whistleblower’s GoFundMe is far from the first political campaign on the platform. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former FBI agent Peter Strzok have raised tens of thousands on the platform, milking their anti-Trump celebrity following their government service.
Unlike in this case, both McCabe and Strzok had already left their posts before turning to the fundraising platform.
Zaid did not respond to Fox News’s request for comment, and he has not yet spoken publicly about this new complaint.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.