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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A Senate race oppo dump that fizzled



The tip sounded interesting enough: Wealthy Republican businessman, former CIA officer and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Wilcox had a direct connection to the folks promoting the controversial "ground zero mosque" proposed a few years back in lower Manhattan. In a Republican primary, noted the tipster, a candidate connected to a Islamic cultural center near the old World Trade Center would be toast.

The evidence of Wilcox's connection? The following from the Gawker Media Group:

...But, a quick glance at the Form 990s for the organizations involved in what came to be known as (eye roll) "the Ground Zero Mosque" shows that the entirety of its operating budget—more really—came from a fixture on the U.S. military and diplomatic scenes, R. Leslie Deak: a man who at that time was working as a business consultant for the private defense contractor Patriot Defense Group, LLC, alongside a former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, General Doug Brown, and James Pavitt, a former director of operations for the CIA. On a current Google+ profile—that you'd better believe I saved an HTML file of—Les Deak boasts of having once had a "DoD Secret Security Clearance."

Patriot Defense Group is a company founded by Wilcox that provides specializes training - much of it classified - to defense, intelligence and other agencies. And apparently Deak's Linkedin page at one point listed him as a business consultant working with Patriot Defense Group.

"I never received any funding or payments from Todd. I know him well. To imply that he was somehow involved in that (Islamic center) is wrong, It is absolutely not true," Deak told the Times.

Deak said he knows Wilcox through their work on the board of National Defense University, and offered early advice to Wilcox when he was starting his firm but never did any actual paid work or consulting for him. 

Wilcox's campaign spokeswoman Erin Isaac said the same thing: "He pitched to Patriot Defense Group, but they never did anything with him," she said.

Deak does admire Wilcox: "He would be outstanding as a senator. He probably has more on the ground knowledge of the workings of the Middle East and the realities of the Middle East and defense options than virtually anyone I know...Todd would bring a badly needed reality check to the Senate."

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 11:32am]


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