Wyoming Republican Rep. Elizabeth L. Cheney, who has led the House Republican Conference since Jan. 3, 2019, has strong ties to Ryan, especially through at least two members of the former speaker’s political family, Kevin Seifert and Jeff Livingston.
Other members of Ryan’s political family – such as Brendan Buck, who led the communications shop for Ryan, when he was the chairman of Ways and Means, and when he was speaker – have backed Cheney’s rebellion against Trump, but Seifert and Livingston are actively involved in Cheney’s operation.
I’m obviously Team Liz, but if we’re talking about potential replacements, there’s not really much of a question who gets it. If Elise wants it, it’s hers.
— Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck) May 4, 2021
Ryan’s own emotional and rhetorical support for Cheney is well-known, and she may have locked down her return to private life when she had a onstage conversation with Ryan at an off-the-record session presented to American Enterprise Institute at their annual retreat.
According to media reports, Cheney told Ryan, and the AEI donors: “We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. We can’t whitewash what happened on Jan. 6 or perpetuate Trump’s ‘Big Lie.’ It is a threat to democracy. What he did on Jan. 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.”
What is not yet part of the conversation is the degree to which Ryan, through his aides, has been pushing Cheney, and others, to reject Trump’s leadership of the Republican Party.
Seifert is a political advisor to Cheney, and he is also a senior advisor to Ryan’s Janeville, Wisconsin-based American Idea Foundation – non-profit launched with a $7 million transfer from Ryan’s campaign coffers.
In his service to Ryan, Seifert has been a campaign manager, communications director, and the chief of staff of the congressman’s Capitol Hill office.
Seifert told Cowboy State Daily reporter Jimmy Orr for his April 14 story about Cheney’s $1.5 million raised in the first quarter, that Cheney’s fundraising success flowed from her standing up for principal.
“Liz is standing up for the Constitution and standing up to the Biden Administration’s partisan overreach, so it’s no surprise her approach is resonating in the form of increased donations,” he said. “She resoundingly won the support of the House Conference in February and she will continue to generate support from those who are concerned with the future of the Republican Party.”
The other reason for Cheney’s success fundraiser is Livingston.
Livingston was the senior financial advisor for Team Ryan, the political operation Seifert built for Ryan, when Ryan became speaker and was looking to merge is own political network with the organization Speaker John A. Boehner bequethed him upon his return to private life.
Townsend Group and Livingston were also behind Ryan’s March 25 virtual fundraising, which asked for $5,800 to be listed as a co-host and $2,900 to participate, and asked donors to mail checks to Townsend’s Old Town Alexandria address, as reported by Politico.
Cheney’s other PAC’s also did business with Livingston. Team Cheney paid Townsend $130,107 and Liz Cheney for Wyoming paid the firm $269,798. The total for the three PAC’s is $549,846 for the 2020 cycle.
According to records posted by OpenSecrets.org, Cheney’s political organization was Townsend’s biggest client in the 2020 cycle, with roughly 22 percent of its $2.5 million haul, but Ryan’s favorite fundraiser has other clients, too.
Ryan-linked Townsend Group raises money for other NeverTrump Republicans
Cassidy is one of the seven Republican senators to vote to convict Trump after his second impeachment. At the time it was a surprise, but not anymore, now that it is clear Cassidy has thrown-in with Team Ryan.
Another surprise Republican vote to convict Trump came from Sen. Patrick J. Toomey Jr., (R.-Pa.), who also used Townsend for fundraising and paid the firm $13,744 in the 2020 cycle.
Another GOP senator, who was highly critical of Trump is West Virginia’s Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. Capito did not vote to convict after the second impeachment, but she did tell Talkline host Hoppy Kercheval that Trump destroyed his legacy and she expected Trump to face justice out of office.
“I think that we know that accountability can still come down the line through the civil and criminal courts if so be it in the judiciary system,” the senator said.
Capito is also a client of Ryan’s fundraiser and in the 2020 cycle, she paid Townsend $350,032.
Another Townsend client, Rep. Nancy Mace (R.-S.C.) went on the Jan. 17 airing of the NBC News program “Meet the Press,” and suggested she was key to the post-Trump GOP.
Although the South Carolina freshman voted against Trump’s second impeachment, she had harsh words for Trump, a man whose endorsement she celebrated in the closing days of her campaign.
“I want to be a new voice for the Republican Party and that’s one of the reasons I’ve spoken out so strongly against the president, against these QAnon conspiracy theorists that led us in a constitutional crisis,” Mace said. “It’s just wrong and we’ve got to put a stop to it.”
When “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked Mace about Cheney, she brightened up: “We’ve got to do a better job and I hope – and I support Liz Cheney – and I hope that she stays a part of leadership. We need these voices right now more than ever.”
Not only do Mace and Cheney share Ryan’s fundraiser and rhetorical flushes against MAGA Republicans, the two women are scheduled to hostess a June 16 Capitol Hill in-person fundraiser together.
The Star News Network reached to Mace’s Communications Director Natalie Johnson for comment regarding the congresswoman’s relationship with Livingston and Townsend Group and for an update as to whether the Capitol Hill fundraiser was still on.
Johnson, who was the deputy press secretary for Cheney’s conference office before joining Mace’s staff, did not reply by press time.
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Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based national political reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. In addition to The Star, he has covered the White House, Capitol Hill and national politics for One America News, Breitbart, Human Events and Townhall. Before coming to Washington, he was a staff reporter for Boston’s Catholic paper, The Pilot, and the editor of two Boston-area community papers, The Somerville News and The Alewife. McCabe is a public affairs NCO in the Army Reserve and he deployed for 15 months to Iraq as a combat historian.
Photo “Brendan Buck” by Brendan Buck.