This is not a story about Trump and an administration gone completely off the rails—this is yet another story about the status quo leading us to Trumpian outcomes. Note the date that Ralph Palmieri began working for a Pentagon contractor in this Daily Beast report:
As Jack Burkman has tried and failed, often in ham-fisted fashion, to drum up false sexual-misconduct allegations against perceived political opponents, he’s maintained a robust federal lobbying practice. And though Burkman is better known than he’s ever been, few have heard of his partner in that business, whose firms have won millions of dollars in military security contracts.
According to lobbying disclosure filings, Ralph Palmieri has been lobbying for J.M. Burkman & Associates since at least 2008, working on well over a hundred of the firm’s accounts in that time. He’s also helped out Burkman with some of his political endeavors, lending his name to an invitation to a 2016 Trump presidential campaign fundraiser at Burkman’s home.
In October, Burkman teamed up with famous dumb internet nobody Jacob Wohl to form Surefire Intelligence and unsuccessfully try to frame Robert Mueller for sexual harassment. It was such a half-assed debacle that we were gifted with these immortal words from NBC’s report explaining how we found out that Wohl and Burkman were behind Surefire Intelligence:
Wohl declined to comment on his involvement with Surefire Intelligence. However, his email is listed in the domain records for Surefire Intelligence’s website and calls to a number listed on the Surefire Intelligence website went to a voicemail message which provided another phone number, listed in public records as belonging to Wohl’s mother.
Burkman was also one of the main perpetrators behind the Seth Rich smear—a conspiracy theory which states that the D.C. police’s explanation of a botched robbery for Rich’s death is part of a Democratic cover-up. He hired an ex-Marine to investigate, Kevin Doherty, who shot Burkman (who lived) after having a “serious falling out” with the career conspiracy theorist. Fox News even apologized for their coverage of this conspiracy theory (but not Sean Hannity, who is a garbage human) which likely would not have made it as far as it did without Burkman’s nonstop efforts.
A couple weeks ago, Burkman tried another ruse, where he and Wohl tried to smear South Bend Mayor and Democratic candidate for President, Pete Buttigieg, with a false sexual harassment charge. Like all their inept ruses, this one completely fell apart almost right away—when the guy they had set up to play the “victim” went to The Daily Beast and told them that “I was unaware this was happening. But yes it is true,” and that he did not control the newly created Medium and Twitter accounts set up in his name. Two hours after he spoke to TDB, he put “I WAS NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED” on his Facebook page.
In a logical world, this avalanche of buffoonery perpetrated by Burkman would render him a pariah and he would be exiled from Washington D.C.—instead, his partner has been getting millions in Pentagon money for years. America spends more on its military than the next seven nations combined, and while we think of this money as going to protect America’s “security,” we can confirm that millions have gone into the pockets of a partner of one of America’s most incompetent right-wing grifters. No perpetual spending like this occurs without serious corruption and waste fueling it.
The Pentagon is on record identifying $125 billion per year in waste (to give that figure some perspective, Bernie’s free college plan would cost an estimated $47 billion annually), and that doesn’t include “non-wasteful” spending going towards whatever consulting firm Jack Burkman’s partner, Ralph Palmieri, is doing. America’s priorities could not be clearer, and the fact that people like Jack Burkman and Ralph Palmieri get free government money while kids going to college cannot is as pure an expression of our stated political priorities as I can imagine.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.