When fundraising for his PACs, including one group that was ostensibly raising money for Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s 2013 bid for Virginia governor and another PAC that said it helped veterans, Rogers “intentionally misrepresented to donors that these PACs would use the donations to support political causes and candidates,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Terwilliger wrote in a memo filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Instead, Rogers “misappropriated nearly all of the donations for his own personal benefit and for the benefit of his PACs and preferred vendors,” wrote Terwilliger.
Often, Rogers and others at Strategic Campaign Group reinvested the money they raised into finding more donors, with the help of a circle of preferred vendors that received large sums for their services. They spent millions of dollars to grow a large “house file,” or email list, that they could then rent out to campaigns for large sums of money.
Rogers was also involved in running Conservative Majority Fund, a PAC that raised almost $10 million between 2012 and 2019 but, according to an investigation by POLITICO and ProPublica, spent almost no money on candidates or political activity.
Another Strategic Campaign Group official, Scott Mackenzie, also pleaded guilty in federal court but has not yet been sentenced. A third former official at the group, Chip O’Neil, is expected to plead guilty this month.
In addition to being sentenced to three years in prison, Rogers was ordered to pay $491,299 in restitution.
“The defendant’s crimes are not victimless,” Terwilliger wrote. “They involved thousands of victims and millions of dollars that the victims intended to spend on the political process in their right to free speech, which is something so fundamentally important that it is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”