New revelations in the curious case of Turning Point USA and Ohio State’s USG elections

Including screenshots of a group message of candidates supported by Turning Point USA, naming Mary Honaker and Carla Gracia

Yesterday, The Lantern published an article which revealed an effort by Turning Point USA, a non-profit conservative organization, to fund undergraduate student government campaigns across the nation.

The article explains that various Ohio State USG campaigns have been approached and claims some of them are currently being supported by the national organization.

The Tab Ohio State has obtained interviews, audio recordings and screenshots which shed new light on the story. They include:

• The Brooks Brothers’ bank statement and financial information which show no transactions from Turning Point USA.
• Screenshots of a group message of candidates Turning Point USA is supporting which include Mary Honaker and Carla Gracia.
• Audio where Alana Mastrangelo, Regional Director at Turning Point USA, talks about “phasing out” what is happening at the OSU chapter.

The false allegations against the Brooks Brothers

The Lantern’s article says Reagan and Reese Brooks, two brothers running in Ohio State student government elections, have received Turning Point USA’s support, according to a statement from Michael Frank, Mary and Carla’s campaign manager.

Reagan and Reese Brooks are both third year Marketing majors running a campaign as the Brooks Brothers. Their policy states that they aim to “increase accountability in USG” so that senators are “truly representing their constituents.”

A Brooks Brothers campaign photo

“I can assure you that the Brooks Brothers have received absolutely no support in any way, shape, or form, from Turning Point USA,” Devin Bilski, campaign manager for the Brooks Brothers, told The Tab Ohio State.

Devin Bilski, was also an employee of Turning Point USA until he resigned on March 1.

Regarding Turning Point’s alleged support of the Brooks Brothers, Bilski said: “The allegations by Mary and Carla’s campaign are a ridiculous attempt to try and shift the blame away from them. The complete lack of integrity shown by their campaign should disqualify them from holding the position of President and Vice-President in USG.”

A text provided to The Tab Ohio State reveals Kennedy Copeland, Turning Point USA Leadership Director, saying: “Devin and his team don’t truly represent our ideals and I don’t want them near the campaign.” It suggests their campaign was not the one receiving support from Turning Point USA.

Furthermore, the Brooks Brothers released their financial information to The Tab Ohio State, which shows an account balance of $150.21 on February 28th and no transactions from Turning Point USA.

The Brooks Brothers’ February bank statement showing no transactions from Turning Point USA

The deposits into their account can be linked to donations from family and friends made to their campaign via Paypal. The Brooks Brothers released detailed financial statements and EIN along with all receipts and documents which can be downloaded here. They did this to provide transparency to their campaign in light of the recent allegations.

Turning Point USA supporting Mary and Carla’s campaign ‘undercover’

The Tab Ohio State reached out to Kadin Llewellyn, President of OSU Turning Point. Llewellyn claims Turning Point USA has supported Mary Honaker and Carla Gracia, a duo running for USG president and vice-president, respectively, but has done so “undercover.” He also told The Tab Ohio State that the members of OSU Turning Point do not necessarily share the same views as those of Turning Point USA and who they support.

“Let me clarify the national organization and the club at Ohio State are operating as two different entities. While the national organization has supported Mary and Carla undercover, the Ohio State club members are split, supporting whatever members they feel like,” said Llewellyn.

Mary Honaker is a third year majoring in Public Affairs, Political Science, and Security and Intelligence, and Carla Gracia is a second year majoring in Political Science and Economics. Their “We Can Do It” campaign aims to increase transparency within the Ohio State student government.

Their website states: “The student body deserves increased transparency of their student government and this will give students the ability to learn about what USG does.”

Mary and Carla and their team

Two members of Mary and Carla’s slate, Natalie Pavlick and Alex Williams, who are running for Senate positions are members of the OSU Turning Point Chapter. Pavlick is the vice-president of the chapter, while Williams is the treasurer.

Both Llewellyn and Bilski claim Mary and Carla were the ones receiving the support from the national organization at Turning Point USA.

A picture provided to The Tab Ohio State shows Mary Honaker at a Turning Point USA event in West Palm Beach this past December.

Mary Honaker at a Turning Point USA event in West Palm Beach in December

Furthermore, a screenshot provided to The Tab Ohio State shows a group message of candidates being supported by Turning Point USA from Saturday Feb. 25 2017, which include Mary Honaker and Carla Gracia.

Mary Honaker has been an active member of this GroupMe since dating back to as early as Feb. 16 2017.

Turning Point USA’s clash with OSU Turning Point

Audio provided to The Tab Ohio State by a student who requested to remain anonymous, reveals the rift between Turning Point USA and OSU Turning Point.

“The Ohio State Chapter is the one chapter that has been my problem child,” said Alana Mastrangelo, Regional Director at Turning Point USA.

Mastrangelo continued to voice her displeasure with the OSU chapter and specifically with Devin Bilski on the recording.

“Long story short, me and Devin really clash a lot on things,” she can be heard saying.

One of the main things Mastrangelo did not like about Bilski was that he as an avid supporter of John Kasich.

“You would think it’s a joke though because he is talking about John Kasich,” continued Mastrangelo on the tape. “I genuinely thought he was kidding with me for six months.”

“Devin doesn’t like the plan so he decided to fight against us. So it’s Turning Point fighting with Turning Point and it looks really ridiculous,” said Mastrangelo.

The audio continues to explain that they want to “phase out” what is happening at the OSU chapter with new people.

“Mary and Carla are the two girls that are on the slate,” continues Mastrangelo on the recording.

Mary and Carla’s Response:

The Tab Ohio State received written statement from Mary and Carla’s Deputy Campaign Manager Caleb Ross responding to the allegations. The response reads as follows:

“Mary Honaker has been personal friends with Kennedy Copeland, as she met her through an ex-boyfriend. Mary was contacted by Kennedy, who was offering to switch TPUSA’s support from the Brooks Brothers to Mary and Carla. Mary and Carla declined TPUSA’s offer, as they believe outside groups should not monetarily influence USG elections.

“As for the communications between Kennedy and the members of the Brooks Brothers, we are unclear why Kennedy said TPUSA was funding our campaign. We declined her offer and never received money from TPUSA. It seems as though Kennedy may have been misrepresenting facts about our campaign, and her relationship to it, in order to gain favor with Kadin and the other OSU Turning Point members.

“It is our understanding that TPUSA is still currently funding the Brooks Brothers campaign. Devin Bilski, the campaign manager for the Brooks Brothers, is the field director for the OSU chapter of Turning Point. Kadin Llewellyn, the deputy campaign manager for the Brooks Brothers, is the President of the OSU chapter of Turning Point.

“We believe that this is a smear campaign, designed to point to us as the team funded by Turning Point, and draw attention away from the Brooks Brothers.

“As for the t-shirts, we ordered them through one of Mary Honaker’s family friends. They were printed on cheap t-shirts which he gave us at cost, in a single color with a simple design, thus making the printing cheaper. Combined with the larger number ordered, the business we worked with was able to give us a very competitive price. Furthermore, Andrew and Sophie printed t-shirts for $2.49 each, and Gerard and Danielle printed T-shirts $2.49 each as well. $2.04 isn’t very far from $2.49, especially considering the Gerard and Danielle t-shirts were printed in multiple colors.

“Our campaign is bipartisan. Carla Gracia is democrat. Our campaign has many democrats and republicans, including members of College Democrat and College Republicans here at Ohio State.

“We will look into filing a brief to the USG Judicial Panel for slander.”

Why Ohio State students care about Turning Point supporting USG campaigns

Turning Point’s aim behind supporting USG campaigns is because “Liberals constantly dominate campus student governments and our goal is to take them out of the score,” says Kennedy Copeland, leadership director for Turning Point USA, in a series of text messages.

Copeland says Turning Point USA offers $3,500 for the slate and $75 for senators ​(around 30) ​which amounts to around $6,000​. This sum would exceed the spending cap of $4,000 for USG campaigns.

According to The Elections Bylaws of the Undergraduate Student Government of The Ohio State University, the spending cap is $4,000 or the sum of $2,500 for the slate and $100 for each senate candidate, whichever is less.

If you have information about Turning Point USA funding a student government campaign at a U.S. university, please email [email protected] 

Ohio State