Yesterday, a vaguely written article appeared on Medium allegedly written by a 21-year-old Michigan man named Hunter Kelly which accused Pete Buttigieg of sexual assault, something which Buttigieg immediately denied — even Republicans didn’t believe the fishy story. Turns out the article might’ve been a hoax designed to make Buttigieg look bad, dreamed up by infamous Republican hoaxers Jack Burkman and internet troll Jacob Wohl, according to The Daily Beast.
Kelly’s article, which was short on details and has since been removed, said that Buttigied sexually engaged him last February while he was too drunk to consent.
“I know that by coming forward, I will make a hard life even harder,” the article stated. “But I must do so — I must do so — for my country, for other gay men like me, and most importantly to stop a very bad man from becoming President of the United States.”
(Pause for a moment here and consider that a very bad man is already President of the United States.)
LGBTQ Nation said that a quick investigation into the author turned up some questionable details:
“He’s a Log Cabin Republican and a very vocal Trump supporter. He sure tried to erase as much as he could from the interwebs before posting his statement, but forgot a few things,” Mike Reynolds said. “He’s posted on several online threads in support of Trump. His Facebook still has likes for Trump and a group called ‘USA Patriots for Trump’ And his Instagram, until he made it private, had in its profile: ‘Hunter Kelly @hkelly1997 instagram profile. value yourself. Log cabin republican. LGBT for Trump. 2a. Patriotic. #MAGA #Trump2020.’”
Even Republicans like Gregory T. Angelo, former head of Log Cabin Republicans, called the story “shady as hell.”
Nevertheless, right-wing conspiracy theory sites like Infowars, Gateway Pundit, and Big League Politics ran articles about the story.
A Republican source, who supplied an audio recording of the meeting planning the false accusation, told The Daily Beast that Burkman and Wohl, “made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race.”
Wohl quickly shared the original article via Twitter. He’s also the same person who helped spread fake sexual assault rumors last year about Robert Mueller in an attempt to discredit and distract from the FBI investigator’s look into Trump’s Russian ties.
In the audio recording given to The Daily Beast, Burkman nor Wohl assured the source that coming out with fake sexual assault allegations against Buttigieg “would make him wealthy, famous, and a star in Republican politics” and claimed “false allegations would prompt actual victims to come forward… [promising] that a number of such victims were waiting in the wings.”
Neither Burkman nor Wohl responded to The Daily Beast‘s repeated requests for comment but began deleting traces of the scheme from their social media minutes after The Daily Beast contacted them. The Daily Beast‘s source “asked to remain anonymous out of a concern that the resulting publicity might imperil his employment, and because he said Wohl and Burkman have a reputation for vindictiveness.”
Even Kelly himself wrote on Facebook:
“I WAS NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. It’s important for everyone to know that I was not sexually assaulted and would never falsely accuse anyone. To keep it brief for now- I was approached by a political figure to come to DC to discuss political situations from the standpoint of a gay Republican. When I arrived they discussed Peter Buttigieg and started talking about how they would be working a campaign against him. I went to bed and woke up to a fake Twitter @RealHunterKelly and an article that I in no way endorsed or wrote.
I have since left and am working on a formal statement to give to everyone including the Buttigieg family. Thank you for standing behind me and knowing that I would never accept or allow any of this.”
When asked about the sexual assault allegations yesterday, Buttigieg called them false and said, “It’s not going to throw us. Politics can be ugly sometimes but you have to face that when you’re in presidential politics.”