Three men, two from California and one from Texas, were indicted by the federal government last week in an alleged $3.5 million fraud scheme in which they collected small donations via robocalls targeting American voters in 2016.
The trio, Matthew Nelson Tunstall, 34, of Los Angeles; Robert Reyes Jr., 38, of Hollister; and Kyle George Davies, 29, of Austin, allegedly solicited contributions to two scam political action committees or PACs, Liberty Action Group PAC and Progressive Priorities PAC. According to an announcement from the DOJ, the three men were indicted on November 2, and the indictment was unsealed on Tuesday.
According to the indictment, the three used the scam PACs to "enrich themselves directly," and comically, there was just a pittance that was donated to a legitimate candidate's committee.
"Of the approximately $3.5 million raised by Liberty Action Group and Progressive Priorities, only approximately $19 were distributed to any candidate’s authorized campaign committee or to any political cause," the indictment states.
Tunstall and Reyes "are also alleged to have laundered more than $350,000 in illegal proceeds from the scheme through a third-party vendor to conceal the use of those funds for their own benefit," the feds say.
Tunstall is an LA-based, self-styled influencer, as the New York Times reports, whose Instagram handle is Matte Nox — he lists himself there as an "executive producer" and "award-winning writer." Hilariously and ironically, one of Tunstall/Nox's handful of photos shows him naked and thirst-trapping, with a tattoo across his chest that says "God Will Give Me Justice." Either God or the DOJ will, my friend!
CNN reported on Tunstall/Nox back in July, noting his lavish lifestyle and how two other scam PACs that he apparently started in 2018 and 2019, Support American Leaders and Campaign to Support the President, together raised $3.4 million — it's not clear if that's on top of the $3.5 million mentioned in the indictment relating to the 2016 PACs, or what. The majority of the PACs income, CNN reported via their filings, came from retirees — and some of that was reaped from robocalls in which someone impersonated Donald Trump. CNN had been on to Tunstall back in early 2019, which led to the Trump campaign issuing a disavowal notice that was attached to the Support American Leaders official public record.
And the scam wasn't just on small donors — Tunstall allegedly scammed the feds too! The Daily Beast reports that Support American Leaders also got itself a Paycheck Protection Program loan last year.
The 2016 PACs, Liberty Action Group PAC and Progressive Priorities PAC, used audio clips of Trump and Clinton, respectively, on robocalls seeking small "emergency" donations, according to the indictment. The calls also promised signed photos of the candidate "suitable for framing" for donations of $1,000 or more.
Tunstall and Reyes now face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to make a false statement to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), as well as multiple counts of wire fraud, and multiple counts of money laundering. Davies is charged with conspiracy commit wire and to make a false statement to the FEC, and multiple counts of wire fraud.
Tunstall made his initial federal court appearance on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Reyes made his first appearance in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California today (possibly at the courthouse at the Philip Burton Federal Building in SF), and Davies appeared in court in the Western District of Texas. If convicted of all counts, the DOJ says, Tunstall and Reyes both face a maximum total penalty of 125 years in prison, and Davies faces a maximum total penalty of 65 years in prison.
Top image: A view of the Phillip Burton Federal Building on August 23, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images