9 April 2023
Clark County Republican Party Chairman and 2020 fake elector scandal participant Jesse Law has added another line to his intriguing resume.
The Nevada Secretary of State lists the Donald Trump loyalist as an independent director on the board of controversial Las Vegas media and content holding company Vinco Ventures Inc., a new part-owner of The National Enquirer. The supermarket tabloid has become notorious under former owner David Pecker for catching and killing stories potentially damaging to the former president.
Pecker was recently seen entering a Manhattan courthouse on his way to meet with a grand jury considering charges against Trump in the alleged scheme prior to the 2016 presidential election to pay hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Pecker is considered an integral player in the hush-money scheme.
In an indictment unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan, a grand jury charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He has pleaded not guilty.
Oddly enough, that Vinco link gives Law something in common with a well-known Nevada Democrat, Clark County Commissioner Ross Miller, who was appointed as the troubled company’s CEO by the Nevada Business Court in October 2022 at a time its stock had tanked, was involved in litigation and was out of compliance with Nasdaq officials and federal regulators.
Miller, the former Nevada Secretary of State, initially jettisoned some of its previous board members and lauded the new company’s “leadership team” for “working tirelessly to regain compliance with the Nasdaq Exchange as fast as possible.” That optimism turned to frustration. “I was unexpectedly appointed CEO by the Nevada Business Court while the company was in distress,” Miller said in a statement. “Vinco management was helplessly deadlocked on major business decisions with both sides in litigation alleging a hostile takeover. The Court declared an emergency and appointed me to represent the best interest of the shareholders. … Over a four-month period, we worked aggressively to save the company, but were unable to resolve ongoing conflict with Vinco’s board.”
Miller departed after four months of what he described as extremely intense effort with the company still struggling to implement an acceptable remediation plan. From the sparse appearance of Vinco’s current SEC filings, and short-sellers betting against it, the path forward still looks pretty rocky.
Among Vinco’s more controversial moves prior to Miller’s presence was its July 2022 hiring of Ted Farnsworth as its co-CEO at a time he was embroiled in a battle with the Justice Department over his business practices as an executive at MoviePass Inc. He lasted less than 72 hours.
Just weeks later, on Sept. 26, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against Farnsworth and two other men, accusing them of making “false or misleading statements” in financial filings and in the press that misled investors in MoviePass Inc. that the company could turn a profit with its $9.95 monthly subscription plan. Among the allegations was falsifying books and records to pump up the foundering company’s financial prospects. MoviePass lost $20 million a month before going out of business, according to published reports.
In early November, Farnsworth and former MoviePass executive Mitchell Lowe were indicted by the Justice Department on securities fraud and wire fraud charges. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison. Farnsworth has pleaded not guilty in the case.
But that hasn’t prevented Farnsworth from landing on his feet — as part owner of The National Enquirer through his founding stake in Icon Publishing. The deal was closed in February for approximately $100 million.
“Look, it’s a new day,” Farnsworth told The New York Times this week, declining to address the charges against him. “I don’t even understand how ‘catch and kill’ works, because I don’t come from publishing, but I just know I don’t want it around.” In the same interview he declared, “Print is not dead.”
Neither is the controversy surrounding Vinco. Law, a lightning rod for some Nevada Republicans still bristling under the leadership of GOP State Party Chairman Michael McDonald and what they perceive was last year’s hostile takeover of the Clark County party, is getting called out by his critics. A couple are even trying to link Law’s board status at Vinco with the indicted Farnsworth. How’s that for political intrigue?
Will it go off as scheduled?
If you’ll excuse the expression, I think some enquiring minds want to know.
John L. Smith is an author and longtime columnist. He was born in Henderson and his family’s Nevada roots go back to 1881. His stories have appeared in Time, Readers Digest, The Daily Beast, Reuters, Ruralite and Desert Companion, among others. He also offers weekly commentary on Nevada Public Radio station KNPR.
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