Former Secret Service agent-turned-professional right wing candidate Dan Bongino spent seventeen minutes on the phone yesterday with Politico reporter Marc Caputo. Refusing to answer simple questions directly, Bongino became angry, cursed and threatened Caputo, and finally ended the call after screaming abuse at him.
Published in its entirety with annotations, the recording deserves a special display case in a museum dedicated to the history of American political meltdowns.
Bongino was first angered by a story about his fundraising in the Naples Daily News. Criticized as a carpetbagger in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, Bongino has raised the least money among a field of three Republicans who are vying for a seat currently held by a Democrat.
Bongino, on the other hand, is still greatly lacking in financial support from the district as far as itemized contributions go. He has received only 6 percent of his itemized donations from Collier and Lee counties.
The majority of his Florida money comes from the state’s east coast, where Bongino still has his permanent residence and where he himself will vote Aug. 30.
Bongino, however, has raised a disproportionate amount of his money from donations of less than $200. Of the $295,465 he has raised, more than half have come from small donations.
The Naples Daily News has requested itemized receipts for these records to assess Bongino’s financial support within the district, but the campaign has declined to provide them.
After Florida, most of Bongino’s financial support comes from Maryland, where he has campaigned twice before, first for U.S. Senate in 2012 and then for U.S. House in 2014. From Maryland, he has raised $18,67 in amounts of $200 and greater.
Politico’s Caputo saw Bongino’s tweets attacking the reporter and began asking for clarifications. After a testy exchange, Caputo offered Bongino his phone number and advised that the call would be recorded.
Warning: not safe for work. Watch:
Bongino left a twelve-year Secret Service career to write a ‘tell all’ book in 2011. Although fellow agents have disputed his dubious claims that he was in the room during high-level discussions about Obamacare and other issues, or that he was fired for political reasons, that didn’t matter to conservative media figures, who elevated Bongino to hero status.
In the above audio, Bongino’s voice rises a half-octave after Caputo asks about the murky circumstances of his departure from the Secret Service.
Although he was never a household name, by 2013 Bongino was such a cult figure on the right that he convened Groundswell, a lobbying effort that brought fringe activists, Breitbart News ‘journalists,’ and professional cranks together with Ginny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, under the auspices of right wing gadfly organization Judicial Watch.
Groundswell succeeded in persuading House Republicans to ‘investigate’ contrived scandals, including the so-called IRS ‘targeting’ affair and the Benghazi Special Committee. They were also responsible for the talking points distributed to GOP lawmakers in preparation for the unveiling of pro-life crusader David Daleiden’s ‘baby parts for cash’ hoax.
Breitbart CEO Stephen K. Bannon, who was directly involved with Groundswell, was named CEO of the Donald Trump campaign last week.
But even though he has become a Trump surrogate, too, Bongino’s star has dimmed with a string of unsuccessful bids for federal office.
There was speculation last year that he might pursue Marco Rubio’s Senate seat, but instead Bongino looked at two US House seats in Florida, deciding to run for the 19th District.
When Caputo remarked on that electoral history and asked Bongino for comment, the thin-skinned ex-agent exploded in rage.
“Marc, I am going to humiliate you…you will regret the day we had this conversation…I promise you, you will rue the day that you lied about me,” Bongino says, never actually specifying what lies Caputo — or the Naples Daily News writer — is supposed to have told.
Losing his temper completely by the end of the call, Bongino ‘s sputtering and cursing suggests that the Secret Service probably had a legitimate motivation to gently push him out the door.
Bongino’s projected image of a smooth, straight-talking conservative hero has just been dispelled by a recording of the frightened, defensive man-child underneath.
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