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CNN Confuses Heart of Trump-Arends Scam with Bosworth Marginalia

I agree with Pat Powers: at the moment when CNN’s Drew Griffin turns to convicted felon Annette Bosworth as an authoritative source, CNN’s investigation into Joel Arends’s questionable veterans’ group/superPAC loses credibility. I know CNN and the rest of the national media are eager to work any angle to squeeze ratings from Trump before his inevitable political collapse, and there’s a great anti-Trump storyline to pursue here: Donald Trump says he can deal with Vladimir Putin, but he gets snookered by small-time hustler from South Dakota who offers Trump political cover. But CNN’s willingness to extend convicted felon Bosworth’s already worn-out notoriety to bolster that storyline undermines the credibility of that storyline.

CNN also errs in referring to “Doctor” Annette Bosworth. By dint of her felony, Bosworth is no longer licensed to practice medicine. Do your homework, CNN!

That said, CNN’s investigation into Arends’s Veterans for a Strong America does provide some bits of information. Lawyer Arends has apparently hired Washington, D.C., Super Lawyer Cleta Mitchell of Foley and Lardner LLP. Check out the screen shot of the e-mail Foley and Larnder sent to CNN’s Griffin yesterday:

Left: screen cap of e-mail from Foley and Lardner to David Fitzpatrick, CNN, annotated in red by CAH/DFP; right: Cleta Mitchell, Foley and Lardner LLP.
Left: screen cap of e-mail from Foley and Lardner to David Fitzpatrick, CNN, annotated in red by CAH/DFP; right: Cleta Mitchell, Foley and Lardner LLP.

If Joel Arends wanted to play campaign finance with his fake non-profit (and yes, I think we’re allowed to say fake, since the IRS revoked VSA’s non-profit status in May), you’d think he would have consulted a campaign finance lawyer before endorsing Trump for President. But Arends apparently can’t even remember to file the 990s the IRS requires of non-profits, let alone keep his money grab from turning into a PR embarrassment for the candidate he was trying to help.

Meanwhile, back at the office of the last doomed candidate Arends tried to help, CNN gets a picture that shows Bosworth still can’t stop writing on walls:

Screen cap from CNN showing Annette Bosworth's wall, scribbled with names and topics from her failed 2014 U.S. Senate campaign and the fallout, 2015.09.17.
Screen cap from CNN showing Annette Bosworth’s wall, scribbled with names and topics from her failed 2014 U.S. Senate campaign and the fallout, 2015.09.17.

Joel Arends, Steve Hickey, land raffles, Don Quiote & Sancho, revoke medical license… all under the heading U.S. SENATE. Yikes—don’t tell me she’s thinking about going back to her Democratic inclinations and running for Senate again.

Griffin does note that the jury didn’t buy Bosworth’s bald attempt to shift blame to Arends. But if the intent of the story is to discuss the unreliability of Arends’s claims about his veterans organization and to establish that VSA is a political group, not a charity, why include the refuted and rejected propaganda of a convicted felon on an unrelated matter? Why not ask Bosworth about the Philippines relief trip that Joel Arends organized for her under the VSA banner in 2014? Why not investigate whether Arends’s use of VSA resources to promote Bosworth’s candidacy is as shady as his current use of VSA resources to promote Trump?

And why not ask Arends to produce the evidence that would support his and Donald Trump’s claim that Veterans for a Strong America consists of “hundreds of thousands of veterans“? Arends claims to have a database of 500,000 people “who signed up to support VSA,” and he has threatened to sue MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for defamation for breaking the news that the Trump endorser may be just Arends and not a vast mass of veterans:

V4SA tweet v Maddow V4SA Tweet vs no members claim

If Arends is willing to make such claims, CNN should ask him to back those claims up. (And feel free to mention Arends’s hashtagging those statements under “Progressive Lies Matter.” How very Trumpy.)

CNN should not confuse the Arends-Trump connection for the baked, eaten, pooped, and flushed Bosworth story. Her crimes and lies are paragraph-16 filler for a much larger story. The Arends-Trump connection is a more newsworthy story of its own, in which we see the current Republican frontrunner cloaking himself in the endorsement of manufactured masses of veterans, and in which we see South Dakota lawyer Joel Arends making money by knitting those new clothes for the man who will not be Emperor.


  1. David Newquist 2015-09-18

    A little journalism review talk. CNN looks for the controversy and tries to generate conflict, as demonstrated by Wednesday night’s fiasco. NBC, which is going to emphasize hard news coverage, thinking maybe there is an actual audience for it, has more field reporters and producers on staff who actually do journalism. Rachel Maddow and her staff have earned a reputation for thorough research and verification. If Joel Arends sued her for falsely stating that his organization has no members, it would be incumbent on MSNBC to offer proof, which it could do by testifying that it could not find evidence listing members. Arends would have to come up with a list to prove MSNBC wrong. Truth is a defense for libel and and Arends would have to prove that what Maddow said is not true.

    Maddox’s crew did all the backgrounding on this. A part of her on-air report that is not on the video clip was an interview with Bosworth. CNN is following up on what Maddow investigated and reported, but its emphasis is the controversy and the conflict, not the facts. MSNBC is where the facts and verifications will come from.

  2. Barbara 2015-09-18

    Annette Bosworth lost her license to practice medicine in SD. She did not lose her medical degree. Just like new graduates who are not yet licensed and retired physicians who no longer practice, she (and CNN) can continue to use the title doctor.

    While not defending anything Annette Boswoth has done in regards to her misplaced trust in paid and unpaid advisers, her ill-conceived political campaign which took her away from her self-proclaimed mission of caring for patients no one else would take care of, her involvement in fraudulent raffles, Medicare billing, and failure to pay her employees, her abdication of responsibility for knowing and ensuring that her team follow legal requirements for running a campaign and her failure to follow professional standards for ethically running a medical practice, all of which have been well-documented here, there is a personal boundary which should be respected.

    Her choice to have her husband remain out of the workforce, to go on (even expensive) vacations with her family, or to use the title Dr. should not be part of the discussion here.

    As you say, the story is Arends and Trump. Unless Trump has already decided to end his campaign on the altar of Islamophobia.

  3. Roger Cornelius 2015-09-18

    If Bosworth wanted national exposure, she got it. Griffin’s report pointed out that she is just another convicted and corrupt South Dakota Republican politician. Her attempt to transfer her guilt to Arends fell flat as noted by her 12 convictions.
    Her Facebook friends and followers have been attempting to make the Trump-Arends fundraising scandal a reason for her vindication, exactly how that would work is questionable.
    Why CNN chose to interview her, and why she accepted, raises some issues of credibility on CNN’s part.
    The good part of Drew Griffin’s report is that he intends to follow up on the estimated $850k the Trump/Arends fundraising netted. That is what Drew Griffin does best, he follows up.
    As far as an Arends libel lawsuit against Rachael Maddow, the last thing Joel wants to do is go to court, any court for any reason. He would have to reveal some ugly truths and do it under oath.

  4. Rorschach 2015-09-18

    That Anderson Cooper story was a real mess.

    What exactly was the thesis of the story anyway? “Joel Arends and VSA are not what they claim. … take it from Annette Bosworth, who was convicted by a jury for lying under oath.” It’s like Anderson Cooper tried to undermine his own story by going off on a rabbit trail.

    As David Newquist said, it appears there is a lot more to the Joel Arends story. The national news is onto him now though, and it looks like the water is going to get hot for him. And everybody knows his empty threat to sue Rachel Maddow is just that. It would be fun to watch him get stomped under her boot though.

  5. Disgusted Dakotan 2015-09-18

    Thanks for that link David Newquist!

    Wow, Arends is under investigation in Az too? If Arends was an actual conservative? Powers would be 24-hour posting on this. But.. Arends is a Dan Lederman, Mike Rounds, and (drum roll) Attorney General Marty Jackley lackey so mums the word from the establishment machine’s minister of propaganda.

    Does anyone know if Powers is doing the bails bondman stuff out of his home for Lederman?

    Trump is known for having a vindictive side. Curious if he will go after Arends for making him look the fool with his scamming of the Donald?

  6. Roger Cornelius 2015-09-18

    Disgusted Dakotan,

    Are you suggesting that Joel Arends could end up in a windbreak the way Richard Benda did?

  7. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-09-18

    “the baked, eaten, pooped, and flushed Bosworth story.” That’s one of the more graphic descriptions I’ve read of the BosBer fiasco. Thank you for the imagery Cory, I think.

    Political grifters seem to be a dime a dozen lately. Maybe it’s all the dirty money Citizens United unleashed. Maybe it’s the proliferation of good internet investigators like Cory. Maybe it’s both. At any rate, it’s a good thing.

    It will be fun to watch this develop and Arends squirm.

  8. Disgusted Dakotan 2015-09-18

    Roger, The Donald likes to sue people. If Arends’ scam causes enough trouble for Trump, I think we could see the Donald going after the dirty little lawyer from Iowa.

    I have not been sympathetic to Bosworth to date.. Arends has proven himself quite the slimy player. Besides, he’s a buddy of Powers and Lederman. Blaberids of Blaberidae you know..

  9. bearcreekbat 2015-09-18

    I agree with Barbara, Bosworth is still a “Doctor.” Simply because SD officials have decided to revoke her license to practice medicine in SD doesn’t change her status as a Doctor, which is based on her educational accomplishments and apparently successful internship.

    And I agree with another post by Wiken (who I often disagree with) arguing that Bosworth has really been over-punished for her election fraud. I cannot see any reason why she could not have been permitted to provide services to needy folks, subject to a reasonable period of regular monitoring.

    We seemed to have devolved into a society that enjoys hanging our sinners from the highest tree just to see them in pure agony.

  10. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-09-18

    BCB, I don’t know what the guidelines for Bosworth’s crimes are, so I’m not commenting on that. But . . .

    There are several instances of her unethical behavior as a physician. I’m referring to her unpaid and underpaid employees, coercing her patients to sign political documents and get otherwise involved in her nonmedical activities. She’s also ran scam raffles in other issues not related to her political activities. The bizarre videos she made with the athletic shoes and the graffiti on the walls of that dark room are among the items that make one question her mental health. Her narcissism is documented.

    I felt Bosworth’s license loss was based on an accumulation of evidence of her unfitness to practice medicine. Do you find that sufficient BCB, or are there legalities that make a difference?

  11. Roger Cornelius 2015-09-18

    Annette Bosworth no longer refers to herself as a doctor on her Facebook page, she says she is a physician and small businesswoman.
    Also on her Facebook page, she maintains donation/contribution buttons, which would allow the public to have an interest in her spending.
    Bear, I could concede that the penalties were unreasonable given the circumstances, but there has to be a reason why these sentencing guidelines are so stiff, any idea why they are so strident. Do you expect the legislature to change them in order to protect themselves from future “mistakes”?
    If perjury laws are changed to protect politicians, should perjury laws that apply to civilians also be changed?

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-18

    Barbara, Trump is going to run out of people to insult pretty soon… and eventually the people he insults will no longer feel entertained and will switch the channel to… who? Rand Paul? John Kasich?

  13. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-09-18

    Raphael Cruz is begging those people to switch to him. They won’t go to Kasich. He’s too sensible, I mean, for a Republican. Rand Paul is not war monger enough.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-18

    Roger, I look forward to Griffin and Fitzgerald’s follow-up. I have to remind myself that we have to be patient—even the big network dudes need time to build a story. The Bosworth stuff was among the crud floating at the top of the Google pool; they need time to dig through that material into the deeper material waiting to be discovered.

    (Bear, Roger, check out the SDBMOE’s statement on the revocation [see link among 2015 disciplinary actions here], and you’ll see that the Board found that “it would be a strain not to consider the previous conduct of Dr. Bosworth in conjunction with these recent felony convictions.”)

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-18

    DD, Powers wrote on August 27 that he is working for Speedy Release Bail Bonds. Click on any link on that page, or just check the business records, and you’ll see that’s the DBA name for Lederman Bail Bonds. Perhaps Joel will be one of Pat’s customers soon?

  16. Rorschach 2015-09-19

    The medical board considered a long and disturbing pattern of behavior by Bosworth, in addition to conviction on 12 felonies and including refusal to accept responsibility, when it revoked her medical license. “Insaner than most” doesn’t play well with professional licensing boards. Right Grudz?

    Arends is busy accusing, dissembling and spinning on KSFY. Apparently it’s not Veterans for a Strong America that had its nonprofit status revoked. It’s a group Arends founded in 2012, also called Veterans for a Strong America that had its nonprofit status revoked. Have you ever heard such bull****? 60 Minutes ought to pick up the story about Patrick Davis, Joel Arends and Pat Powers – who is neck deep in these shenanigans with his two very close friends.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-19

    Amazing, Rohr! It’s like Joop Bollen all over again: incorporate SDRC Inc. while running SDIBI to do the same work, then claim SDRC Inc. can’t be sued by Darley for things SDIBI did.

  18. mike from iowa 2015-09-19

    Hill said that one proposal from Patrick Davis involved a cross-country bus tour using a company linked to Arends that was so obscure it didn’t have a website. On another occasion, Davis pushed for the PAC’s printing services to be handled by Arends. Davis said through his lawyer that he felt Arends would be faster and cheaper than other options.

    Vote2ReduceDebt didn’t go with Patrick Davis’ suggestions on either of those jobs, but did heed his advice when choosing who to hire for a $200,000 contract to produce voter rallies. Davis again picked Arends, who ran a company called Red State Productions. Davis’s lawyer said in a statement that Red State “is a skilled political campaign services provider with years of experience and excellent results over many campaigns.”

    While Arends had worked with campaigns in the past, Red State’s website, which displays photos of big political rallies featuring Republican stars such as Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, was created a couple of days before Red State pitched the $200,000 deal to Vote2ReduceDebt, domain registration records show. The company was incorporated in South Dakota a few days after the pitch.

    Red State’s events, according to the website, “are widely attended, photographed and reported.” A search of online databases turned up no previous record of payments to Red State Productions by a candidate or political committee. The D.C. number for the company has since been disconnected. The address listed on its website is for a service on Washington’s K Street lobbying corridor that provides mail drops and temporary office space.

    Vote2ReduceDebt staffers were not pleased with Red State’s work, according to a lawsuit the super PAC filed in December to get the money back. One of the firm’s main responsibilities was promoting rallies and getting people there. But most of the people who attended their rallies, the PAC alleged, were paid Vote2ReduceDebt staffers, with one rally only drawing seven outsiders.

  19. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-09-19

    The plot thickens. The ingrown nature of SD’s Koch/Republican cabal becomes more evident.

  20. Porter Lansing 2015-10-20

    Perhaps Pat will be one of his own customers soon, what with all the hard drive wiping that’s been going on and all the missing records from EB-5?

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