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Davis hardly comes off like an oil tycoon. One of his few concessions is the fedora he always sports in public, a throwback to the decorum instilled by his father and namesake, who started out in the oil business as a laborer before striking it big selling supplies to wildcatters. The father became one of the richest men in Texas.

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Vote2ReduceDebt had its origins in an open letter Ken Davis passed around early last year among people he knew. He warned that U. Ken Davis was prepared to spend some money to press his brand of righteous conservatism.

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He turned to his brother, T. Cullen Davis. Cullen had a complicated past , one that spawned true crime books and TV shows. Amid a bitter separation with his wife in , three eyewitnesses accused him of donning a wig, breaking into the mansion where his estranged wife was living, shooting to death her boyfriend and her year-old daughter from another marriage, and wounding his wife and a friend of hers.

He was dubbed the wealthiest man ever charged with murder anywhere. Within months Cullen was in trouble again. The FBI recorded him discussing a list of people he wanted killed, including the judge in his divorce proceedings. An undercover informant later showed Cullen a staged photo of the judge stuffed in a car trunk. The drama and a bust in the oil industry took its toll on the family business. In the mid s, Kendavis Industries International ended up in bankruptcy court.

But Ken Davis remained wealthy, and through it all, he stood by Cullen, maintaining his innocence and entrusting him to run his charitable organization. After beating the charges, Cullen renounced his fast-living ways and became a born-again Christian.

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Cullen Davis first recruited a friend from church named Lynn Scarborough, a Dallas-based communications consultant who also runs a group that focuses on emergency preparedness. Ken Davis, she said, began meeting with political consultants his brother found through his Council for National Policy connections. Others who got involved were locals with no experience in politics. The oilman was persuaded to scrap the non-profit and start a super PAC. By May, the PAC had its team together. But he joined the board anyway. He served as the political director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the cycle and had helped run dozens of local, state, and national campaigns.

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Through his lawyer, Davis said he was attracted to the Fort Worth group because the national debt had long been an interest of his. And his style appealed to the oilman. Hill also questioned whether events organized by Davis were all they claimed to be. She was combative with the rest of the staff and acting erratically, he said, so he began looking into her past. Her name was Italia Federici. A decade earlier, Federici figured in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, which contributed to the resignation of House Majority Leader Tom Delay and led to the criminal convictions of 21 people, including a House member who admitted taking bribes.

Federici was accused of using her position as head of a conservative environmental advocacy group to serve as intermediary between Abramoff and her friend, Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles.

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In return, she allegedly exploited her romantic relationship with Griles to get Abramoff inside information and to lobby for his tribal clients. Federici pleaded guilty in to tax evasion and obstructing a Senate investigation. There, her problems continued. Her Boulder landlord told ProPublica she kicked her out for not paying several months of rent. Through her attorney, Federici said she was truthful and moved out promptly after not being able to make rent. Davis had moved to Colorado and set up his own consulting firm after finishing his stint at the Republican senatorial committee.

In he led a non-profit that backed the presidential campaign of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Bosworth, who got six percent of the vote in the Republican primary last year, faces trial on a dozen felony counts of perjury and filing false statements in connection with allegedly forged names on nominating petitions. Through his attorney, Davis said the relationship was disclosed, and that the calls on behalf of Huckabee were not push polls, but rather educational calls.

The attorney said Davis had no knowledge of the alleged crimes committed by Bosworth. The next day, Patrick Davis wrote a memo of his own to the board. In it, he alleged that after a June 5 Vote2ReduceDebt rally, as they drove to the Midland, Texas, airport, Hill told him about a secret plan.

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But Patrick Davis alleged that Hill took it a step further in their conversation. Hill missed his first deadline with NBC, and though he was granted an extension, time was running out. Ken Davis, recently hospitalized, would be told the money was going toward legitimate get-out-the-vote operations. Ken Davis which was something I was not going to do. The board and Ken Davis had to decide whom to believe. Patrick Davis warned the leadership that if they sided with Hill, they would risk future disaster.

One evening in July, she sent Gober a barrage of text messages.

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She demanded he turn over video from a PAC event she believed would play in their favor. He emailed the texts the same evening to Ken Davis. I will ferociously expose you and anyone else I feel is complicit in destroying documentation about the fleecing of this family. Who do you think you are? Do it! We asked for docs and recorded material weeks ago.

How impotent are you? Or is it criminal. Your choice.

He said the board decided to side with him, voting to fire Davis and Federici. Rendered as a map of the world, the database depicts, to scale and in deepening shades of red, the bribe-susceptibility of industries within a given country, as well as details of successful prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

In , Where the Bribes Are was nominated for an Honesty Oscar from the Accountability Lab, an international organization dedicated to curbing corruption in the developing world. In the late seventies, he was part of a team in Washington, D. His habitual aversion to publicity was tested in the nineteen-nineties, when he wound up in the tabloids for suing Ivana Trump in a fee dispute, after she allegedly stiffed him for work he did during her divorce from Donald of the same last name.

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