WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) – The former Olympian who launched a tumultuous and ultimately unsuccessful Senate bid last year is hauling his former campaign treasurer to court over a pizza delivery and other outstanding expenses.
August Wolf, who finished fourth in shotput at the 1984 Olympics, lost in the Republican primaries while fighting to keep the Democratic incumbent Sen. Richard Blumenthal from seeing a second term.
The Princeton grad’s campaign was plagued by rumor and infighting from the start with his first campaign manager quitting in fall 2015, leaving a team of 20something interns in charge of the campaign.
As alleged in a sexual-harassment complaint this past June by former consultant Samantha Menh, those interns all departed the campaign in January 2016, alleging a hostile work environment.
January 2016 is also when Wolf claims to have fired the treasurer he is now accusing of conversion and breach of fiduciary duty in Westchester County Supreme Court.
Wolf says Matthew MacFarlane joined his campaign in November 2015 at a salary $3,000 a month, plus lodging with another campaign staffer in Stamford. MacFarlane, described in the complaint as a resident both of Briarcliff Manor and Ossining, did not return a request for comment.
Noting that the Federal Election Commission fined his campaign nearly $10,000, Wolf says MacFarlane’s failures are to blame.
“As treasurer, defendant MacFarlane supervised illegal transfers of funds from two campaign bank accounts into the Republican convention account in violation of Federal Election Campaign (sic) rules,” the March 1 complaint states.
“As treasurer defendant MacFarlane failed to properly supervise the work of the accountant hired by the campaign to timely file the Fourth Quarter (Q4) and the End of the Year (YE) 2016 reports, but which were not filed timely.”
In addition to allegedly converting a campaign check to his personal account, Wolf also accuses MacFarlane of a laundry list of stock-room issues.
The complaint says MacFarlane sold one of the campaign’s printers on eBay in December 2015 and kept the proceeds of the $306 sale for himself.
It also says MacFarlane caused the campaign to pay one of its interns “a large bonus from campaign funds,” in violation of Wolf’s written instructions.
Two days before he was fired, according to the complaint, MacFarlane also “incurred in excess of $1,000 in postage charges placed on white envelopes for his own benefit.”
Several of MacFarlane’s equipment issues allegedly occurred after his firing.
Wolf says MacFarlane failed to return a campaign Macbook worth roughly $1,500, and he used a campaign debit card two days after his firing to order $150 worth of food from My Pizza, plus another $90 eBay charge.
MacFarlane also solicited “Connecticut political operatives,” the complaint says, to buy proprietary campaign data he allegedly downloaded onto his personal computer.
Though the complaint does not allege a count of defamation, Wolf says MacFarlane defamed him and the campaign after his firing in a series of media interviews.
Wolf also blames MacFarlane for $250 in utility bills that the campaign had to pay.
He estimates damages for these issues at nearly $15,000 in his demand for breach of fiduciary duty. Repeating them in Count 2, the conversion count, Wolf says the property was worth just under $6,000.
He then asks for nearly $18,000 more in punitive damages. Wolf and his campaign are represented by Andrew Spinnell of New York.
Spinnell is also defending Wolf against Menh’s lawsuit. In that case, Spinnell and Wolf are seeking permission to serve out-of-state subpoenas on a server company it believes hosted a website, NeverWolf.com. A court motion says Wolf believes the defamatory website was operated by MacFarlane or Troy Meeker, another former Wolf campaign worker. MacFarlane and Meeker, who quit Wolf’s campaign after what he described as a hostile environment due to his sexual orientation, have submitted affidavits in support of Menh’s sexual harassment lawsuit, which is moving forward in Stamford Superior Court.
Menh’s complaint is brimming with improper fundraising claims against Wolf. Campaigns raise money in three different stages, and Menh says Wolf overspent the funds set aside for the convention by $40,000.
By law, candidates are allowed to receive $2,700 from individuals for each phase of the election, including the convention, primary and general.
The funds must remain separate. Menh claims in the lawsuit that Wolf contributed money to his campaign to cover up the use of funds from the primary account for the convention account.
Many of Wolf’s donors gave him more than $2,700 believing he would advance to the primary. By law, the remainder of those donations will have to be returned.