Niko House outed Diana Rogalle as the person behind the claim that Ryan Hughes received Clinton Super Pac money. I first reported this story on March 25th. For that reason, I now have chosen to write about the information I obtained regarding Ms. Rogalle’s role in this matter.
Let me be clear. My March 25th story that alleged Ryan Hughes, Bernie Sanders’ state director for his campaign in Michigan, took money from Super Pacs associated with Hillary Clinton, was based for the most part on Mark Craig’s statements to me. This follow-up report, which names Diana Rogalle, a prominent Democratic consultant and fundraiser, as Mark Craig’s source for that claim is, in like manner, also primarily based on statements made by Mr. Craig, as supplemented by my own independent online and offline research.
With that disclaimer, let’s proceed, beginning with Mark Craig’s account of his relationship with Diana Rogalle, and what led her to reveal she’d made payments to Ryan Hughes on behalf of entities supporting Hillary.
Mark Craig and Diana Rogalle
Mr Craig is a life-long resident of Flint, Michigan, His family has a long history of political activity supporting Democrats and liberal causes. For example, Lois Craig, Mark’s mother, and a Flint native, worked for then Speaker of the House, Bobby Crim in the seventies. She was the driving force behind creating he Crim Festival of Races, a fundraising event that raised millions over the years for the Special Olympics. Mark Craig’s father, Robert P. Craig, was also active in Michigan Democratic politics as a fundraiser.
Mark Craig met Diana Rogalle, a University of Michigan graduate interested in politics when they worked together on several political campaigns in Michigan during the nineties. They eventually became close friends and maintained their friendship over the years, even after Diana became one of the most successful and influential fundraisers for the Democratic Party.
In February of this year, Mr Craig and Dianna Rogalle met up in Florida. In a casual conversation with her, Mark brought up his concerns regarding Ryan Hughes. According to Mark, Diana responded by saying that Ryan Hughes was one of the people to whom she was directed to make payments on behalf of several Clinton Super Pacs for which she worked. He said she referred to Mr. Hughes as one of her “spies” and implied Hughes received somewhere in the range of $5000 to $7,500 per month.
Who is Diana Rogalle?
Diana Rogalle is a long time Democratic political operative and fundraiser for Democratic candidates and liberal non-profit organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
She served as the finance director for Priorities USA Action Pac, which supported President Obama in 2012. Priorities USA action moved to support Hillary beginning in January 2014 at the latest. The only candidate Priorities USA Action supports in the 2016 election cycle is Hillary Clinton, and it’s made expenditures on her behalf in the amount of $5,648,679 (as of February 29, 2016).
Diana Rogalle’s bio from Priorities USA Action’s January 23, 2014 press release, reads as follows:
Diana Rogalle, Finance Director
Diana Rogalle has been a leading Democratic political fundraiser and operative for close to twenty years. Consulting on federal and non-federal races across the nation, Ms. Rogalle has played a key role in Democratic campaigns during each of the past ten consecutive election cycles. Her relationships extend across America’s financial, entertainment, business, activist, and philanthropic communities, and her management expertise has earned her a reputation among the most elite in her field.
In March 2005, Ms. Rogalle formed The Ashmead Group based in Washington, DC. The Ashmead Group is a boutique political and non-profit fundraising consulting firm dedicated to providing the highest level of service to donors, candidates, advocacy organizations and businesses.
Clients of the Ashmead Group have included Priorities USA Action; campaigns for US Senators Max Baucus, Mark Udall, Ron Wyden, Maria Cantwell, Debbie Stabenow and Jeff Merkley, as well as a number of current and former governors; advocacy organizations including the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood and the National Resources Defense Council; and not for profit organizations including Ford’s Theater, Make It Right, Generation Rescue and the Alliance for Climate Change.
Ms. Rogalle’s experience before founding the Ashmead Group includes leading the fundraising efforts for Victory Campaign 2004 – the joint fundraising committee of America Coming Together and The Media Fund; National Finance Director for the Wes Clark for President Campaign; and four years as the Finance Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Ms. Rogalle earned her B.A. in political science and communications from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1990. She lives with her husband and son in Washington, DC.
Ms. Rogalle also worked for Priorities USA when it supported President Obama in 2012, and was chief fundraiser for Americans Coming Together (ACT), in 2004.
In February, Priorities USA hired Diana Rogalle, who was chief fund-raiser for America Coming Together, which spent $200 million on behalf of Democrats in 2004.
Diana Rogalle supported Hillary Clinton in 2008, and she, individually, and through The Ashmead Group, donated to Hillary’s campaign.
The Ashmead Group
Diane Rogalle is the founder and President of The Ashmead Group. In the 2014 election cycle alone, The Ashmead Group received payments from Priorities USA, as shown in filings with the Federal Election Commission, of $127,124 . This sum was in addition to her salary as Priorities USA Finance Director during 2014 and 2015.
In the 2016 election cycle, Ashmead has been paid $51,938 (as of Feb 29th) by Priorities USA Pac.
Ashmead’s address (as listed in this document filed with the FEC; see, Page 45) is: 122 C Street NW, Suite 505, Washington DC, 20002-2109
When Did I learn of Diana Rogalle?
Mark Craig did not initially identify Ms. Rogalle to me as his source, though I asked him to contact her and obtain permission to tell me her name. The next day on March 23rd, after Marks says he spoke the her, Mark informed me Diana Rogalle was his source on Ryan Hughes. That was also the day I first learned of the existence The Ashmead Gruop. Mark indicated that she wished to remain anonymous and was not yet willing to speak to me directly. I asked him to keep trying to get her to change her mind so we could cite her as an anonymous source.
Last week, Mark let me know that Diana was no longer returning his phone calls. On Friday, April 1st, a friend of Diana contacted Mark by phone and said she did not want to talk to him anymore.
At that point, I made my first attempt to contact Ms. Rogalle myself, either through email or phone. However, The Ashmead Group’s website with its contact page link is no longer available online. If you try to reach Ashmead’s site, you get a page that says:
The connection has timed out
The server at www.ashmeadgroup.com is taking too long to respond.
The site could be temporarily unavailable or too busy.
Try again in a few moments.
By using The Wayback Machine, an internet archive database, I was able to find an archived image of the home page of The Ashmead Group, dated May 17, 2014. Here’s a screenshot:
The phone number for The Ashmead Group is (202) 465-4622. I called that number Friday, April 1st and Saturday, but on each attempt no one picked up and it just rolled into a generic voicemail box that did not identify the company’s name. I left voicemail messages asking Diana Rogalle to please contact me. I have yet to receive any response.
Attempts to contact Ryan Hughes
The only phone number I ever had for Ryan Hughes is the number Mark Craig gave me for the cell phone Hughes used while he worked for Bernie in Michigan: (617) 428-5681. When I called that number, I received a message that it had been “disconnected or was no longer in service.”
I’ve emailed two women working for Bernie Sanders campaign. They were refereed to me as individuals who knew senior people in Bernie’s campaign. One woman worked for Bernie as a field operative. On the phone she told me she knew Becky Bond, a senior adviser. The other woman is a volunteer in Pennsylvania who told me she had contacts among Sanders’ senior staff. I asked both to pass along all the information I sent them about Mark Craig and Ryan Hughes (and other matters not relevant here).
I only withheld the following from them: that Mark had named Diana Rogalle as his source. At that time, Mark still wanted me to keep her name private while he continued to try to get her to go on the record about the Sanders’ field operatives, including Hughes, who allegedly received Clinton PAC money from her.
I also gave them Mark Craig’s contact info. I did not receive any response from anyone on Bernie’s national staff, nor did I hear from Ryan Hughes.
On Friday, in an attempt to reach Hughes (now Bernie’s state director for the campaign in Pennsylvania), I called all of Bernie’s Pennsylvania field offices for which telephone numbers are publicly available.
I left a message with the Lehigh office to pass along to Hughes my desire to speak to him. A volunteer at a Pittsburgh field office put me in touch with Gregory Minchak, Regional Press Secretary for Bernie Sanders’ campaign. I spoke to him on Friday, reiterating my desire to speak to Ryan Hughes.
Mr. Minchak gave me no official comment on behalf of the campaign. Per his request, however, I sent him all the information I previously shared with the two other Sanders’ campaign workers. I informed him that the name of Mark Craig’s source would very likely be made public in the near future, and asked him to reach out to Mr. Hughes and request that he call me. Mr. Minchak made no promises. I hope to receive a response from him or some other senior official in the campaign at some point.
To my knowledge, Ryan Hughes has made no public statement refuting the allegations against him. However, last week I learned that Bill Taylor, a volunteer activist and organizer for Bernie Sanders in the Philadelphia area, did attempt to speak to Hughes about the controversy. On March 27, 2016, Taylor confronted Ryan Hughes about the allegations he took Clinton PAC money. Taylor’s description of that encounter describes his encounter with Ryan Hughes is related in this video he made and posted on Facebook.
I contacted Taylor by phone. He claims that Ryan Hughes refused to answer any questions regarding the claim he received money from PACS supporting Clinton. Hughes, for whatever reason, did not deny the allegations when Taylor raised the issue. Instead, Taylor says Hughes made every effort to evade him and avoided answering Taylor’s questions.
I deeply regret that I have been unable to speak with either Diana Rogalle or Ryan Hughes, the two people who could provide some clarity about this matter. They could either confirm or deny Mr. Craig’s claims if they chose to do so. Ms. Rogalle has not responded to the voicemail messages I left for her, and her firm’s website has apparently been taken down. It appears she has chosen not to comment about Ryan Hughes and the money he allegedly received from Clinton PACs.
Ryan Hughes knows or should have reason to know of Mark Craig’s allegations regarding him since my initial story was published on March 25th. I’ve yet to see any public statement from him about those allegations.
I can’t say with 100% certainty the accusations against Mr. Hughes are true. It’s possible that Craig made these claims to disrupt Bernie’s campaign. However, I’ve seen nothing to make me think that is the case. To the extent possible, I’ve attempted to confirm every piece of information about Ryan Hughes and Diana Rogalle I received from Mark Craig. Much of what he told me has been verified through independent publicly available online sources. In the case of Mr. Hughes and his conduct as Michigan’s state director, I’ve had conversations with volunteers worked for him that support what Mark Craig told me.
Some might claim that if Mr. Hughes received funds from Clinton Super Pacs, those expenditures would appear in the mandatory disclosure forms all PACs are required to file with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). However, that is not necessarily the case.
If the payments to Hughes and others were made by consulting firms, such as The Ashmead Group, who billed the PACs and were reimbursed for them, these payments would not show up in any document filed with the FEC. This is because companies that receive payments from political action committees,such as Priorities USA, are not required under Federal law to disclose any information to the FEC with respect to PAC expenditures they received.
The particulars of this story do not provide definitive proof that Ryan Hughes did indeed receive monies from Diana Rogalle, funds that originated from Super Pacs or other groups supporting Hillary Clinton. They are sufficient, however, to create suspicion in the minds of reasonable people that the story very well might be true.
Similar fact patterns that involve inexplicable actions taken by paid staffers in other states, combined with connections between those staffers and the Clintons, their associates and or affiliated organizations, are leading many Bernie volunteers to suspect the infiltration of Bernie’s campaign by Clinton operatives.
For myself, regarding this story, I would like to hear from Ryan Hughes and Diana Rogalle. So far, however, neither of them has addressed the claims made by Mark Craig publicly, at least to my knowledge. By remaining silent, they give the appearance of having something to hide.
In any event, I’d love to hear from either Diana or Ryan to get their side of this story.