In another unusual twist to the presidential campaign, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign has shelled out $35,000 to a New Hampshire firm that took its name from a popular television series.
But the reality might be even stranger than fiction: The firm’s co-founders’ primary focus is a nonprofit that uses genetically modified porcine tissue to treat burn victims.
Trump’s latest campaign finance report, which showed a cash-strapped campaign with just $1.3 million on hand at the end of last month, includes the payments to a Londonderry, N.H., firm for “web advertising.”
That company’s name? Draper Sterling, which fuses the last names of two of the protagonists from the television series “Mad Men,” an AMC show about the advertising world and the 1960s. The consulting firm, formed in December of last year, is registered with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
Its registered agent in New Hampshire, Jon Adkins, is also a co-founder of XenoTherapeutics, a Boston-based nonprofit for medical devices. The other co-founder is Paul Holzer, a Navy SEAL veteran and Dartmouth medical student who worked on Governor Charlie Baker’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
In a Tuesday evening phone interview, Holzer said that Draper Sterling’s duties for Trump centered around targeting delegates to vote in the party caucuses, which occurred in April.
Trump won those contests, which emphasize grass-roots organizing, despite early doubts about his campaign in the state.
Holzer said his firm, which registered all of its payments from Trump on April 27, had been hired “when there were new personnel added.”
ThinkProgress, a political blog associated with the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, first reported extensively on Draper Sterling.
“Picking that name, it was more of a joke, but it paid off pretty well,” said Holzer, who added, “In 24 hours, I’m speaking with you and I think we’re the top hit on Google for the news cycle.”
Holzer said his and Adkins’s chief focus is on their nonprofit, saying their other work functions largely as a way to subsidize the xenotransplantation effort, where, they say, they have developed a human tissue substitute from a genetically modified line of pigs.
Trump parted ways with his longtime campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday after suffering a drop in the polls. Holzer said he had no connection to Lewandowski, who lives about 15 minutes from Draper Sterling’s registered address in New Hampshire.
“I have never met Corey, I’ve never spoken with him,” Holzer said. “I am a vendor for the Trump campaign, but there is no formal connection beyond that.”
Campaign finance documents show Baker and his running mate, lieutenant governor Karyn Polito, paid $16,500 to another Holzer firm, Dynamic Solutions, of which Adkins is also a co-founder, during their 2014 race. Itemized payments were for “ballot access” and “network service and support.”
A former Baker campaign official said that Holzer was involved in the state Republican Party coordinated campaign’s data operation “early on in 2013,” though the payments from Baker and Polito occurred in 2014. Eventually that arrangement ended, the official said.
In an e-mail, state party spokesman Terry MacCormack said, “Mr. Holzer worked with the Party’s coordinated field and data operation early in the 2014 cycle, and later left to pursue other ventures.”
Dynamic Solutions also received nearly $138,000 in payments from the Massachusetts Republican State Committee during six months in 2013 and 2014, according to state campaign finance records.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.