Roger Jason Stone Jr. (born August 27, 1952) is an American political consultant, lobbyist, and strategist, noted for his use of opposition research, usually for candidates of the Republican Party. He was a principal with the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly.
Stone has been referred to in media variously as a "political dirty trickster", a "renowned infighter", a "seasoned practitioner of hard-edged politics" and a "veteran Republican strategist".
Over the course of his political career, Stone has promoted a number of falsehoods and conspiracy theories.
Stone was born on August 27, 1952, in Norwalk, Connecticut, the son of Gloria Rose (Corbo) and Roger J. Stone. Stone grew up in Lewisboro, New York, in a family of Hungarian and Italian descent. His mother was a small-town reporter, his father a well driller who owned his own business. He has described his family as middle-class, blue-collar Catholics.
In the first grade, Stone claims, he broke into politics to further John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign: "I remember going through the cafeteria line and telling every kid that Nixon was in favor of school on Saturdays... It was my first political trick".
When he was a junior and vice president of the student government at a high school in northern Westchester County, New York, he manipulated the ouster of the president and succeeded him. Stone recalled how he ran for election as president for his senior year:
"I built alliances and put all my serious challengers on my ticket. Then I recruited the most unpopular guy in the school to run against me. You think that's mean? No, it's smart."
Given a copy of Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative, Stone became a convert to conservatism as a child and a volunteer in Goldwater's 1964 campaign. In 2007, Stone indicated that he was a staunch conservative but with libertarian leanings.
As a student at George Washington University in 1972, Stone invited Jeb Magruder to speak at a Young Republicans Club, then successfully asked Magruder for a job with Richard Nixon's storied Committee to Re-elect the President. Stone then dropped out of college to work for the committee.
Stone's political career began in earnest with activities such as contributing money to a possible rival of Nixon in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance—then slipping the receipt to the Manchester Union-Leader. He also got a spy hired by the Hubert Humphrey campaign who became Humphrey's driver. According to Stone, during the day he was officially a scheduler in the Nixon campaign, but: "By night, I'm trafficking in the black arts. Nixon's people were obsessed with intelligence." Stone maintains he never did anything illegal during Watergate.
After Nixon won the 1972 presidential election, Stone worked for the administration in the Office of Economic Opportunity. After Nixon resigned, Stone went to work for Bob Dole, but he was fired after columnist Jack Anderson publicly identified Stone as a Nixon dirty trickster. In 1976, he worked in Ronald Reagan's campaign for president, and in 1977, became national chairman of the Young Republicans.
Stone went on to serve as chief strategist for Governor Thomas Kean's campaign for Governor of New Jersey in 1981 and for his re-election campaign in 1985.
Stone, the "keeper of the Nixon flame," was an adviser to the former President in his post-presidential years, serving as "Nixon's man in Washington." Stone was a protégé of former Connecticut Governor John Davis Lodge, who introduced the young Stone to then former Vice President Nixon in 1967.
John Sears recruited Stone to work in Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign in 1979–80, coordinating the Northeast. Stone said that former McCarthyist Roy Cohn helped him arrange for John B. Anderson to get the nomination of the Liberal Party of New York, a move that would help split the opposition to Reagan in the state. Stone said Cohn gave him a suitcase that Stone avoided opening and, as instructed by Cohn, dropped it off at the office of a lawyer influential in Liberal Party circles. Reagan carried the state with 46 percent of the vote. Speaking after the statute of limitations for bribery had expired, Stone later said, "I paid his law firm. Legal fees. I don't know what he did for the money, but whatever it was, the Liberal party reached its right conclusion out of a matter of principle".
With partners Charlie Black and Paul Manafort, he formed Black, Manafort, and Stone, a political consulting firm, described as "instrumental in the success of Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign". Republican political strategist Lee Atwater later joined the firm in 1985, after serving the #2 position on Reagan-Bush '84. The firm lobbied for the Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
In 1987–88, Stone served as Senior Adviser to the Jack Kemp for President campaign, which was managed by consulting partner Charlie Black. That same election, his other partners worked for George H.W. Bush (Lee Atwater as campaign manager, and Paul Manafort as director of operations in the fall campaign).
In April 1992, Time alleged that Stone was involved with the controversial Willie Horton advertisements to aid George H. W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign, which were targeted against Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis. Stone has said that he urged Lee Atwater not to include Horton in the ad. Stone denied making or distributing the advertisement, and said that was Atwater's doing. However, the actual ads featuring Horton's picture (run originally on CNN) were produced by Americans for Bush / NSPAC (National Security PAC), an independent-expenditure group not controlled or coordinated by Atwater and the Bush campaign. FEC records for NSPAC do not indicate any payments to or affiliation with Stone, and the ads were reported in 1988 and thereafter to have been produced by another consultant.
Stone and his first wife Ann E. W. Stone, whom he married in 1974, founded the group Republicans for Choice in 1989. They divorced in 1990.
In 1995, Stone was the president of Republican Senator Arlen Specter's campaign for the 1996 Republican Presidential nomination. Specter withdrew early in the campaign season with less than two percent support.
Stone was for many years a lobbyist for Donald Trump on behalf of his casino business and was also involved in opposing expanded casino gambling in New York State, a position that brought him into conflict with Governor George Pataki.
In 1996, Stone resigned from a post as a volunteer spokesman in Senator Bob Dole's campaign for president after The National Enquirer wrote that Stone had placed ads and pictures in racy swingers publications and a website seeking sexual partners for himself and his second wife, Nydia Bertrane Stone, whom he married in Las Vegas in 1992. Stone initially denied the report. On the Good Morning America program he said: "An exhaustive investigation now indicates that a domestic employee who I discharged for substance abuse on the second time that we learned that he had a drug problem is the perpetrator who had access to my home, access to my computer, access to my password, access to my postage meter, access to my post-office box key". In a 2008 interview with The New Yorker Stone admitted that the ads were authentic.
Later that year, according to Stone and the film Recount, Stone was recruited by James Baker to assist with public relations during the Florida recount. His role in the Brooks Brothers riot, the demonstration by Republican operatives against the recount, remains controversial.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Democrat Al Sharpton responded to accusations that Stone was working on his campaign, stating "I've been talking to Roger Stone for a long time. That doesn't mean that he's calling the shots for me. Don't forget that Bill Clinton was doing more than talking to Dick Morris." Critics suggested that Stone was only working with Sharpton as a way to undermine the Democratic Party's chances of winning the election. Sharpton denies that Stone had any influence over his campaign.
In this election, a blogger accused Stone of responsibility for the "Kerry-Specter" campaign materials that were circulated in Pennsylvania. Such signs were considered controversial because they were seen as an effort to get Democrats who supported Kerry to vote for then Republican Senator Arlen Specter in heavily Democratic Philadelphia.
During the 2004 general election, Stone was accused by then-DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe of forging the Killian memos that led CBS News to report that President Bush had not fulfilled his service obligations while enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard. McAuliffe cited a report in the New York Post in his accusations. For his part, Stone denied having forged the documents.
In 2007 Stone, a top adviser at the time to Joseph Bruno (the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate), was forced to resign by Bruno after allegations that Stone had threatened Bernard Spitzer, the then-83-year-old father of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer. On August 6, 2007, an expletive laced message was left on the elder Spitzer's answering machine threatening to prosecute the elderly man if he did not implicate his son in wrongdoing. Bernard Spitzer hired a private detective agency that traced the call to Roger Stone's wife's phone. Roger Stone denied leaving the message, despite the fact that his voice was recognized, claiming he was at a movie that was later shown to have not been screened that night. Stone was accused on an episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews on August 22, 2007, of being the voice on an expletive-laden voicemail threatening Bernard Spitzer, father of Eliot, with subpoenas. Donald Trump is quoted as saying of the incident: "They caught Roger red-handed, lying. What he did was ridiculous and stupid."
Stone consistently denied the reports. Thereafter, however, he resigned from his position as a consultant to the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee, at Bruno's request.
Stone is featured in the 2008 documentary on Lee Atwater, Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story. He was also featured in the 2010 documentary of the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer.
In February 2010, Stone became campaign manager for Kristin Davis, a madam linked with the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, in her bid for the Libertarian Party nomination for Governor of New York in the 2010 election. Stone said that the campaign "is not a hoax, a prank or a publicity stunt. I want to get her a half-million votes." However, he was later spotted at a campaign rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, of whom Stone has spoken favorably. Stone had admittedly been providing support and advice to both campaigns, on the grounds that the two campaigns had different goals: Davis was seeking to gain permanent ballot access for her party, while Paladino was in the race to win (and was Stone's preferred candidate). As such, Stone did not believe he had a conflict of interest in supporting both candidates. While working for the Davis campaign, he collaborated with a group entitled "People for a Safer New York" to send a flyer labeling Libertarian Party candidate Warren Redlich a "sexual predator" based on a blog post Redlich had made in April 2008. The move backfired, and Davis finished in last place with roughly half the votes Redlich did while Redlich finished with the highest vote total of any Libertarian gubernatorial candidate in the state's history. Stone continues to hold ill will against the Libertarian Party of New York.
Stone volunteered as an unpaid advisor to comedian Steve Berke ("a libertarian member of his so-called After Party"), in his 2011 campaign for mayor of Miami Beach, Florida in 2012. (Berke lost the race to incumbent mayor Matti Herrera Bower.)
In February 2012, Stone said that he had changed his party affiliation from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party. Stone predicted a "Libertarian moment" in 2016 and the end of the Republican party.
In June 2012, Stone said that he was running a super PAC in support for former New Mexico governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, whom he had met at a Reason magazine Christmas party two years earlier. Stone told the Huffington Post that Johnson had a real role to play, although "I have no allusions (sic) of him winning."
Stone considered running as a Libertarian candidate for governor of Florida in 2014, but in May 2013 said in a statement that he would not run, saying that he wanted to devote himself to campaigning in support of a 2014 constitutional amendment on the Florida ballot to legalize medical marijuana.
Stone left the campaign on August 8, 2015 amid controversy, with Stone claiming he quit and Trump claiming that Stone was fired. Despite this, Stone still supported Trump. A few days later, Stone wrote an op-ed on Business Insider called "The man who just resigned from Donald Trump's campaign explains how Trump can still win".
Despite calling Stone a "stone-cold loser" in a 2008 interview and accusing him of seeking too much publicity in a statement shortly after Stone left the campaign, Donald Trump praised him during an appearance in December 2015 on Alex Jones' radio show that was orchestrated by Stone. "Roger's a good guy," Trump said. "He's been so loyal and so wonderful." Stone remained an informal advisor to and media surrogate for Trump throughout the campaign."
During the course of the 2016 campaign, Stone was banned from appearing on CNN and MSNBC after making a series of offensive Twitter posts disparaging other television personalities. Stone specifically referred to a CNN commentator as an "Entitled Diva Bitch" and imagined her "killing herself", and called another CNN personality a "stupid negro" and a "fat negro". Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple described Stone's tweets as "nasty" and "bigoted". In February 2016, CNN said that it would no longer invite Stone to appear on its network, and MSNBC followed suit, confirming in April 2016 that Stone had also been banned from that network. In a June 2016 appearance on On Point, Stone told Tom Ashbrook: "I would have to admit that calling Roland Martin a 'fat negro' was a two-martini tweet, and I regret that. As for my criticism of Ana Navarro not being qualified... I don't understand why she's there, given her lack of qualifications."
In March 2016, an article in the tabloid magazine National Enquirer stated that Trump's Republican primary rival, Senator Ted Cruz, had extramarital affairs with five women. The article quoted Stone as saying: "These stories have been swirling about Cruz for some time. I believe where there is smoke there is fire." Cruz denied the allegations (calling it "garbage" and a "tabloid smear") and accused the Trump campaign, and Stone specifically, of planting the story as part of an orchestrated smear campaign against him. Cruz stated: "It is a story that quoted one source on the record, Roger Stone, Donald Trump's chief political adviser. And I would note that Mr. Stone is a man who has 50 years of dirty tricks behind him. He's a man for whom a term was coined for copulating with a rodent." In April 2016, Cruz again criticized Stone, saying on Sean Hannity's radio show of Stone: "He is pulling the strings on Donald Trump. He planned the Trump campaign, and he is Trump's henchman and dirty trickster. And this pattern, Donald keeps associating himself with people who encourage violence." Stone responded by comparing Cruz to Richard Nixon and accusing him of being a liar.
In April 2016, Stone formed a pro-Trump activist group, Stop the Steal, and threatened "Days of Rage" if Republican party leaders tried to deny the nomination to Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The Washington Post reported that Stone "is organizing [Trump] supporters as a force of intimidation," noting that Stone "has ... threatened to publicly disclose the hotel room numbers of delegates who work against Trump." Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that Stone's threat to publicize the hotel room numbers of delegates was "just totally over the line."
During a live feed of The Young Turks from the Republican National Convention, a tense, almost physical fight occurred, between Stone, Alex Jones and the co-founder of TYT, Cenk Uygur, who shouted, "You’re a sick dude, Roger Stone! You’re the world’s biggest liar! You’re a piece of crap!"
After Donald Trump had been criticized at the Democratic National Convention for his comments on Muslims by Khizr Khan, a Pakistani American whose son received a posthumous Bronze Star and Purple Heart in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, Stone made headlines defending Trump's criticism by accusing Khan of sympathizing with the enemy.
During the 2016 campaign, Stone was accused by Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta of having prior knowledge of the publishing by Wikileaks of Podesta's private emails obtained by a hacker. Stone tweeted before the leak, "it will soon the [sic] Podesta's time in the barrel" (i.e. he would have to endure an unpleasant situation). Five days before the leak, Stone tweeted, “Wednesday Hillary Clinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
Podesta also accused Russian intelligence of being behind the hacking of his e-mail account. In a piece published on Breitbart News and in an interview with Politico, Stone denied having any advance knowledge of the Podesta e-mail hack or any connection to Russian intelligence.
In February 2017, The New York Times reported that as part of their ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign, the FBI was looking into any contacts Stone may have had with Russian operatives.
In March 2017, after reports surfaced in The Washington Times that Stone had direct messaged alleged DNC hacker Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter, Stone admitted to having contact with the mysterious persona and made public excerpts of the messages. Stone claimed the messages were just innocent praise of the hacking. According to a publicly released report by the U.S. intelligence agencies, the U.S. intelligence community believes Guccifer 2.0 to be a false persona created by Russian intelligence to obscure their role in the DNC hack.
During the congressional investigations of Russia's role in the 2016 election, Stone's role in Trump's campaign and potential contacts with Russia have come under scrutiny. The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Stone to preserve all documents related to any Russian contacts. The Committee Vice Chair, Senator Mark Warner, called on Stone to testify before the committee, saying he "hit the trifecta" of shady dealings with Russia. Stone denied any wrongdoing in an interview on Real Time with Bill Maher on March 31, and claimed he is willing to testify before the committee.
Since 2010, Stone has been an occasional contributor to the conservative website The Daily Caller, serving as "male fashion editor." Stone also writes for his own fashion blog, Stone on Style.
Stone has long been noted for his personal style, described as flamboyant. In a 2007 Weekly Standard profile written by Matt Labash, Stone was described as a "lord of mischief" and the "boastful black prince of Republican sleaze." Labash wrote that Stone "often sets his pronouncements off with the utterance 'Stone's Rules', signifying listeners that one of his shot-glass commandments is coming down, a pithy dictate uttered with the unbending certitude one usually associates with the Book of Deuteronomy." Examples of Stone's Rules include "Politics with me isn't theater. It's performance art. Sometimes, for its own sake."
Stone "has a reputation for sartorial elegance" and does not wear socks, a fact that Nancy Reagan brought to her husband's attention during his 1980 presidential campaign. Labash described him as: "a dandy by disposition who boasts of having not bought off-the-rack since he was 17" who has "taught reporters how to achieve perfect double-dimples underneath their tie knots." Washington journalist Victor Gold has noted Stone's reputation as one of the "smartest dressers" in Washington. Stone's longtime tailor is Alan Flusser. Stone dislikes single-vent jackets (describing them as the sign of a "heathen"); says he owns 100 silver-colored neckties; and has 100 suits in storage. Fashion stories have been written about him in GQ and Penthouse. Stone has written of his dislike for jeans and ascots and has praised seersucker three-piece suits, as well as Madras jackets in the summertime and velvet blazers in the winter.
In 1999, Stone credited his preternatural looks to "decades of following a regimen of Chinese herbs, breathing therapies, tai chi and acupuncture," according to the Times. Stone wears a diamond pinkie ring in the shape of a horseshoe and in 2007 he had Richard Nixon's face tattooed on his back. As of 2007, he owned five Jaguar cars and five Yorkshire Terriers. In 2016, he claimed in a Newsweek interview that at least two of his dogs have been poisoned. He has said of himself: "I like English tailoring, I like Italian shoes. I like French wine. I like vodka martinis with an olive, please. I like to keep physically fit."
Stone's office in Florida has been described as a "Hall of Nixonia" with framed pictures, posters and letters associated with Nixon. Exceptions are a poster of a stripper and a photo of him standing by a pool with a bikini-clad pornographic film actress Nina Hartley.
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