In the middle of the Venn Diagram between Kanye West and Marjorie Taylor Greene is alt-right influencer Milo Yiannopoulos and a campaign credit card.
Alt-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos used the credit card for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) campaign last November to purchase an internet domain for Kanye West’s still unannounced 2024 presidential bid, and he was reimbursed for “domain transfer” by the West campaign the same day for $3,000 above cost, according to receipts obtained by The Daily Beast and a person with knowledge of the events.
The receipts match Federal Election Commission filings from both campaigns. Those filings show that on Nov. 22, the Greene campaign reported a $7,020.16 expense to the GoDaddy hosting service for “domain registration and hosting.” That same day, the Kanye 2020 committee reported paying Yiannopoulos $9,955 for “domain transfer.”
Legal experts told The Daily Beast that the transactions raise a number of questions, including about possible theft and conversion of campaign funds to personal use.
According to the receipts, GoDaddy billed Greene senior adviser Isaiah Wartman for a $7,020.16 purchase of the “ye24.com” domain on Nov. 22. The person with direct knowledge of the events said that Yiannopoulos oversaw the transaction with the Greene campaign card, but the person did not know whether the Greene campaign was aware at the time of the expense.
The transactions occurred on the same day that West—now known as Ye—infamously dined at Mar-a-Lago with former President Donald Trump and white supremacist and Nick Fuentes, who had been advising Ye throughout the rapper’s highly publicized Hitler-loving meltdown last fall.
Yiannopoulos, who has taken credit for arranging the Mar-a-Lago evening, told The Daily Beast that multiple media reports placing him at the dinner were inaccurate, and that he was not personally in attendance. Ye fired Yiannopoulos after the provocateur told NBC News he orchestrated the dinner with the notorious Fuentes “to make Trump’s life miserable,” but the disgraced hip-hop mogul rehired him as political director last week, The Daily Beast reported.
The transactions are coming to light after Ye’s latest treasurer, Patrick Krason, resigned on Monday—the second treasurer to jump ship within the last six months. A leaked internal email, first reported by Politico, shows Krason expressing concern that Yiannopoulos had “submitted falsified invoices for expenditures that would be deemed unlawful.” Treasurers carry personal liability for the accuracy and truthfulness of each report they submit to the government, under penalty of law.
Krason declined to comment for this article. The Greene campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Brendan Fischer, a campaign finance law specialist and deputy executive director at watchdog Document, told The Daily Beast that if the Greene campaign paid for Kanye’s web domain, “that’s an excessive and unreported in-kind contribution to his campaign.”
Fischer also noted that if Yiannopoulos charged the Greene campaign’s card without the campaign’s knowledge, “then he may have committed a range of serious violations—including, potentially, causing Greene’s campaign to file false reports with the government.”
Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert and deputy director of the Funder’s Committee for Civic Participation, told The Daily Beast that Ye’s campaign purchase of the domain would appear to officially establish him as a candidate for election, since the expense exceeded the $5,000 spending threshold that triggers a registration requirement. While Ye has in recent months used the context of his 2020 campaign to court media attention around a potential 2024 run—spending hundreds of thousands of dollars while raising none—he has still not declared his candidacy or registered with the FEC.
Ryan also pointed to a 2018 FEC ruling in favor of MAGA rap-metal star Kid Rock, in which the commission, rejecting the agency’s own internal legal analysis, dismissed similar allegations. The decision cited in part Rock’s claims that his senate “candidacy” was part of an “artistic and commercial undertaking” to promote a new album and tour.
But Ryan also raised the question of whether Yiannopoulos had converted Greene donations to personal use.
“The law is broadly understood as preventing candidates from converting funds to their personal use, but the plain language of the statute suggests that this ban applies to anyone, not just the candidate,” Ryan said. “This is arguably Milo converting Greene campaign funds to his personal benefit—and for a profit on top of that. Was Milo stealing $7,000 from the Greene campaign for his benefit?”
Jordan Libowitz, communications director for government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Daily Beast that “this is a new one for me,” saying the transaction appeared “fraudulent” and a possibly criminal violation of the personal use ban.
“It’s concerning that the domain appears to have been sold to personally benefit Milo. You cannot use campaign funds to benefit yourself. That’s the kind of thing that [former Rep.] Duncan Hunter was convicted of doing,” Libowitz said. “You can’t use the campaign card for your personal benefit. That’s about as clear-cut as it gets.”
He observed that the transaction on its face “looks fraudulent,” adding that if Yiannopoulos used the campaign card for his own purposes, “he would need to repay the Greene campaign—otherwise it’s potentially a criminal area.”
“First, there’s the question of Milo using the Greene campaign credit card without authorization, which could amount to theft,” he said. “Then there’s the personal use question. Campaign funds cannot be used for personal benefit, and if it’s accidental it needs to be repaid immediately.”
Libowitz added that if the Greene campaign had been aware of the transaction—which was conducted in the campaign manager’s name, and which Greene’s treasurer signed off on in the campaign’s post-general report—then “the Greene campaign would appear to be complicit in facilitating the conversion of campaign funds to Milo’s personal use.”
Asked for comment, Yiannopoulos—who last year served six months as an intern in Greene’s office—told The Daily Beast that “the story is absolutely false from start to finish.” However, he also provided a statement he had previously shared on his Telegram social media account that appears to confirm the events, and acknowledged to The Daily Beast that the Greene credit card purchase was made through his personal GoDaddy account.
But the statement also sloughed the blame off to a “junior staffer” and attempted to throw doubt on a “supposed connection between a Marjorie Taylor Greene credit card and a domain connected to YE24.”
“The truth is a junior staffer made an error with the stored credit cards on a third-party vendor GoDaddy account, picking the one ending 2032 instead of 2002,” the statement said. “The accident was quickly rectified and the correct card charged. I have apologized privately to Marjorie for the mixup.”
Asked on Monday when the payment had been “rectified,” Yiannopoulos would only tell The Daily Beast that “I can tell you that it has been refunded.” If he had refunded the money before March 31, however, that transaction would appear to have gone unreported in the campaign’s FEC filings.
Yiannopoulos also claimed to The Daily Beast that the “junior staffer” in his statement was not himself or a Greene employee, but someone who was working under him personally. He also stated that in addition to his internship, the Greene campaign had paid him directly for his political work, claiming he had “set up her podcast and associated websites,” which is why, he said, his personal card and the Greene campaign card were stored in his GoDaddy account.
FEC filings do not show any payments from the Greene campaign to Yiannopoulos. Asked how he was paid, Yiannopoulos told The Daily Beast that “you understand how vendors work,” and declined to elaborate.
Ryan pointed out that if the transaction were in fact a mistake, “it should have been flagged immediately, and corrected on the next report.”
The Greene campaign has filed two reports since the transaction, without such a correction. If Yiannopoulos paid the campaign back in recent weeks, it will appear in Greene’s next filing, due July 15.