Maryland-based GOP consultant Kelley Rogers was sentenced to three years in federal prison on Friday.
The 56-year-old fundraiser pleaded guilty in September of last year to one count of wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia.
After serving his prison sentence, he’ll be on three years of supervised release. Rogers was also ordered to pay $491,299 in restitution and to forfeit at least $208,954 in proceeds obtained from his offense.
The government had requested Rogers receive 78 months imprisonment. Rogers’ legal team asked for a sentence of 24 months, arguing he “presents virtually no risk of recidivism.” For context, the same judge sentenced disgraced GOP consultant Tyler Harber to 24 months in prison for illegal coordination in 2015.
Making its case for leniency, Rogers’ legal team’s court filing states: “Rogers has had a successful career and was well-regarded by his peers and clients. Indeed, a number of candidates have written the Court to attest to his character and his work ethic.”
In a letter to the judge, Rogers himself wrote: “My exuberance for the process led to me making some bad decisions. I made those decisions and I am very sorry.”
In the pre-sentencing filing, his legal team argued that Rogers’ actions were “not driven out of greed.”
“Mr. Rogers does not own a home, maintains a modest lifestyle, and earned between $68,666 and $118,762 between the years 2015-2018.”
But according to the Washington Post, Rogers’ firm, Strategic Campaign Group, raised some $20 million “from more than 9,000 conservative donors between 2011 and 2018” and “[l]ess than 2 percent of the money actually went to those candidates.”
Still, some former clients and practitioners wrote to the judge to support Rogers, including Charles R. Black. “I believe Kelley is an honorable man who made a mistake,” Black wrote.
In its pre-sentencing report, prosecutors painted a damning picture of a practitioner who had crossed all legal and ethical lines.
“The defendant’s recent history is riddled with lies to donors, false statements to the FEC, and fake invoices used to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars from his own PACs,” the report states.
He was born and raised in Texas and left the state when he was 24 to come to DC, where he held a variety of political jobs before launching his own firm.
Rogers showed remorse during his comments at the sentencing hearing. “I lost all focus,” he said, according to the Post. “My conduct ruined my career.”
Rogers' case related in part to his work with Conservative StrikeForce, which dates back to 2012, and other scam PACs. According to the feds, Rogers “operated multiple PACs, including Conservative StrikeForce (CSF), Conservative Majority Fund and Tea Party Majority Fund.”
“In that role, the defendant engaged vendors to send e-mail solicitations and make telemarketing phone calls to prospective donors seeking political contributions to his PACs,” the Department of Justice said in a release. “In addition to the misrepresentations that Rogers made to donors, Rogers and others fraudulently billed his PACs for services that were not performed, thereby misappropriating donor money that had been contributed to the PACs by individuals across the country. Rogers and his associates also made false statements to the Federal Election Commission about how they were spending PAC money.”
Long-time scam PAC treasurer Scott Mackenzie, who last October pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FEC, is set to be sentenced Feb. 21, 2020, by Grady.
Meanwhile, Rogers’ colleague Chip O’Neil is also expected to plead guilty to related charges next week.