Pete Buttigieg was falsely accused of sexual assault in a stunt concocted by conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl

Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty ImagesPete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who’s running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg.
  • A 21-year-old college student named Hunter Kelly appeared to publish a Medium post on Monday alleging that Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, sexually assaulted him earlier this year.
  • But Kelly told The Daily Beast later on Monday that he didn’t write the post and that the allegations, which didn’t include any specifics and are uncorroborated, were made up.
  • Separately, an anonymous Republican source told The Daily Beast that the conservative lobbyist Jack Burkman and the internet-famous conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl had attempted to persuade multiple conservative young men to lodge false sexual-assault allegations against Buttigieg.
  • The Daily Beast said the source provided an audio recording in which Burkman and Wohl attempted to persuade the source to make false sexual-assault allegations against Buttigieg.

A 21-year-old college student named Hunter Kelly appeared to publish a Medium post on Monday alleging that Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, sexually assaulted him earlier this year.

But Kelly told The Daily Beast later on Monday that he didn’t write the post and that the allegations, which didn’t include any specifics and are uncorroborated, were false.

Separately, an anonymous Republican source told The Daily Beast that the conservative lobbyist Jack Burkman and the internet-famous conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl had attempted to persuade multiple conservative young men to lodge false sexual-assault allegations against Buttigieg.

The Daily Beast said the source provided an audio recording in which Burkman and Wohl asked him to falsely accuse Buttigieg of engaging with him sexually while the source was drunk and therefore unable to consent. The news outlet said it was not publishing the recording to protect the source’s identity.


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David Wohl tweetScreenshot/Twitter

Kelly told The Daily Beast he did not make the allegation against Buttigieg and did not create or have control over the Medium and Twitter accounts created in his name and bearing his photo.

And he wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, “I WAS NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.”

“It’s important for everyone to know that I was not sexually assaulted and would never falsely accuse anyone,” Kelly wrote, adding: “I was approached by a political figure to come to DC to discuss political situations from the standpoint of a gay Republican. When I arrived they discussed Peter Buttigieg and started talking about how they would be working a campaign against him.”

He went on: “I went to bed and woke up to a fake Twitter @RealHunterKelly and an article that I in no way endorsed or wrote. I have since left and am working on a formal statement to give to everyone including the Buttigieg family.”

Wohl’s father, David Wohl, a criminal-defence attorney, pushed the Medium post on Monday, as did the right-wing website Big League Politics, the Daily Beast report said. The elder Wohl later deleted his tweet with the post.

Buttigieg dismissed the allegations during a press gaggle in New York on Monday afternoon.

“I’m sure it’s not the first time somebody is going to make something up about me,” he said. “It’s not going to throw us. Politics can be ugly sometimes, but you have to face that when you’re in presidential politics.”

This isn’t the first time Jacob Wohl has attempted to push false allegations of sexual misconduct.

The special counsel Robert Mueller’s office announced last October that it had learned of plans to pay off women to make up sexual-misconduct accusations against Mueller. Wohl was soon linked to the hoax, which Mueller referred to the FBI to investigate.


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The Daily Beast reported that in the source’s audio recording, which he said was from a meeting at a Washington restaurant where Burkman and Wohl used aliases, they appeared to pitch a scenario in which a person would hold a press conference to detail false accusations against Buttigieg. They framed the hoax as a way to hurt Buttigieg’s 2020 campaign, the report said.

The source declined the offer and told The Daily Beast that the plot struck him as “the Fyre Festival of political operations.”

The Daily Beast said that a phone number Wohl used to call the source to follow up was on the website for a company called Potomac Intelligence Group, purportedly a bicoastal political and corporate intelligence firm, that was taken down soon after the news outlet reached out to Wohl and Burkman for comment.

A week ago, Burkman tweeted: “2020 is shaping up to be more exciting than 2016. Looking like it will be Trump vs. Mayor Pete! Get the popcorn ready!”

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