ANNAPOLIS, Md. — FBI agents executed a search warrant Thursday at an office of a fundraising and consulting firm in Annapolis that works for Republican candidates and conservative causes nationwide, the 11 News I-Team has learned.
The investigation is being run out of Washington, not locally, the I-Team has learned. The Washington FBI office said the investigation, including the raid, is being done with “fierce coordination.”
An FBI spokesperson said don’t expect a release of documents “anytime soon.”
The FBI used trash bags to cover a window at the third-floor offices of Strategic Campaign Group at 191 Main St. Two agents, with FBI on their body armor, started to tape trash bags over the glass door blocking out any view of what is going on inside. One of the agents had a side arm, one was wearing blue surgical gloves.
The FBI is not saying what the warrant is for.
The raid has fueled intense speculation about possible connections, largely because of timing. It comes right in the middle of the firestorm over the president’s firing of FBI Director Jim Comey.
The state’s Republican Party said the raid concerns fundraising questions in a 2013 political race. Republican Ken Cuccinelli sued the firm, accusing it of using his name to raise money and enrich themselves during the governor’s race in Virginia. The lawsuit was later settled.
The firm is touted for pioneering the use of technology in political campaigns, and it represents GOP candidates nationwide. The firm’s website said one of its principals was formerly associated with a firm operated by Paul Manafort, who is the former Trump campaign manager whose business dealings with Russia are under intense scrutiny.
Strategic Campaign Group’s national clients include the Tea Party and the Conservative Majority Fund. The local client lists include Maryland state House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, and Delegate Pat McDonough used the firm while running for Congress. According to McDonough, the company did work for Gov. Larry Hogan and the GOP caucus.
None of the building tenants, which include Annapolis lobbyists, said they know what the search is about. In addition, the office building neighbors also said they don’t know why the FBI is interested in the office.
The I-Team’s calls to the executives for the firm have not yet been returned.