Democratic PAC Founder Charged With Fraud, Embarks On New Lobbying Venture

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CORRECTION: This story’s headline was changed to reflect that Cary Lee Peterson was involved in lobbying before registering a PAC in June 2016. We also changed Peterson’s affiliation with Democrats Socially United. He did not register the PAC, but acted as a “coordinator.”

A pro-Sen. Bernie Sanders super PAC founder isn’t letting fraud charges or outstanding warrants get in the way of his new lobbying and fundraising ventures.

Cary Lee Petersen registered two PACs — the Alliance for Disabled Inmate Abuse and Democrats Socially United — with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in June. Days before, he was released on $200,000 bond over alleged securities fraud activities predating his February, 2015, entrance into presidential politics, according to Legistorm.

Petersen, from Texas and Arizona, registered as a lobbyist for the inmate PAC so he could advocate for, “political and community awareness on disabled inmate abuse,” according to the disclosure form Legistorm obtained.

Petersen is charged with two counts of certification falsification and one count of securities fraud for claiming on Securities and Exchange (SEC) forms in 2012 and 2013 that his RV business (RVPlus Inc.) had multi-million-dollar contracts with the Haitian, Nigerian and Liberian governments.

He claimed a nonprofit green energy group he founded, ECCO2 Corp., was an “affiliate” organization with the United Nations Convention on Climate Change. None of that was true, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The SEC filed a civil complaint against him over the alleged securities fraud.

Petersen has two outstanding warrants in Arizona for failing to appear in court over a disorderly conduct misdemeanor charge and for violating his probation after a DUI conviction, according to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI).

But Petersen asked potential Sanders donors to overlook all that when he created the pro-Sanders super PAC Americans Socially United in February, 2015.

“You don’t need to look back on my past,” Peterson told CPI in 2015. “I’m going out there trying to make a difference.”

The PAC raised about $90,000 from a few dozen donors — including $47,000 from James Bond actor Daniel Craig. But the PAC, which spent most of its money on media, is nearly $50,000 in debt. The Sanders campaign sent multiple cease-and-desist letters to Petersen asking him to take down his website, but Petersen ignored those warnings, according to CIP.

Petersen’s Linked In page claims he is executive director of the Congressional Committee on Eurasian Affairs and executive director of the Congressional Committee on Cuban Affairs. These aren’t congressional committees, they’re registered as trade organizations with the FEC.

Petersen also claims to be developing a medical marijuana partnership among Albania, Micronesia and the U.S., in hopes of those foreign nations attracting tourists.

Petersen faces up to 60 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $15 million, if convicted.

Petersen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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