Former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI), dubbed the accidental Congressman due to the peculiar circumstances of how he obtained public office, only lasted as a Congressman for one term after his surprise election in 2012.
While outsiders have attributed his short career to political inexperience, a series of affidavits show the lengths to which he was sabotaged by the political establishment that was desperate to oust the tea party favorite from office.
Bentivolio came into office unexpectedly after the Republican incumbent in Michigan’s 11th Congressional district, Thaddeus McCotter, was forced to resign from Congress in disgrace after failing to turn in the 1,000 valid signatures needed to get on the primary ballot that year.
The fiasco made Bentivolio the only man on the ballot, and an establishment write-in effort against him failed. Bentivolio defeated his Democratic challenger in November by a comfortable margin, and he was headed to Congress.
But the miracle run for Bentivolio was not to last for long, as saboteurs – including those from within his own inner circle – plotted to upend the constitutional legislator before he could make waves against big government in Washington D.C.
Robert Dindoffer, who served as Bentivolio’s campaign attorney and campaign manager before being terminated from those positions, allegedly colluded with his client’s opponents, committed electoral fraud, sexually harassed staffers, and used unethical lawfare to garnish Bentivolio’s meager military benefits.
According to an affidavit written by attorney Kent Clarke Jr, Dindoffer sexually harassed at least two women who were working or volunteering for the Bentivolio campaign. The affidavit states the women both attested to Clarke Jr. that Dindoffer dropped his pants and forced himself on them shortly after entering their respective domiciles.
The affidavit also claims that Dindoffer unlawfully garnished Bentivolio’s Veteran Disability benefits after the former Congressman was forced into bankruptcy despite the fact that Dindoffer had accepted Bentivolio’s offer releasing him from liability for past debts.
Clarke Jr. believes that Dindoffer ought to be disbarred because of dishonest practices he engaged in while serving as Bentivolio’s campaign manager and campaign lawyer.
It is also alleged that Dindoffer met with Bentivolio’s opponents during the prestigious biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in 2013 where plans may have been hatched to derail Bentivolio’s re-election chances the following year.
Dindoffer ultimately sued Bentivolio – presumably to drain him of funds and cause negative headlines in the press – while he was engaged in a fierce primary election battle with Dave Trott, the real estate mogul who eventually defeated Bentivolio and took his seat. Bentivolio was ultimately forced into bankruptcy due to the sordid ordeal.
“The only reason the congressman filed bankruptcy is because of the lawsuit between Mr. Robert Dindoffer, a licensed attorney, and the congressman,” Clarke Jr. said.
Bentivolio is now suing Dindoffer in civil court and being represented by attorney Deborah K. Schlussel, a prominent right-wing activist and blogger from Southfield, MI.
The lawsuit alleges that Dindoffer committed fraud while presenting a Request and Writ for Garnishment to the Huron Valley State Bank in order to get access to Bentivolio’s campaign funds while he was running to regain his lost seat during last year’s mid-term elections, after Bentivolio’s debts toward Dindoffer were already cleared in bankruptcy court.
The lawsuit states: “Defendant Dindoffer specifically admitted to the Bankruptcy Court, in an argument filed on February 15, 2019 responsive to Plaintiff Bentivolio’s motion to reopen the case, that he fully understood that the various campaign committees Kerry Bentivolio for Congress (2012) and Bentivolio for Congress (2014) were each separate entities having their own campaign numbers and having their own tax ID numbers.”
“Upon information and belief, Mr. Dindoffer knew that each campaign cycle included a separate campaign entity, and therefore, Bentivolio for Congress (2017) was not the same entity as either Kerry Bentivolio for Congress (2012) or Bentivolio for Congress (2014),” it states.
The lawsuit alleges that Dindoffer’s behavior was tantamount to electoral interference, as the “actions constituted a planned obstruction to the ongoing campaign and thereby denied Plaintiff Bentivolio the ability to aggressively prosecute his campaign.” Bentivolio is demanding over $500,000 in damages as a result.
“It is sad Mr. Bob Dindoffer made a PAC with the devil,” Bentivolio said to Big League Politics. “He violated his ethical standards as an officer of the court with intentional and malicious misrepresentation of facts which he admitted to in his previous legal pleadings.”
“He severely damaged our efforts to bring honest representation for the people of the 11th district. If we truly want to rid Washington, DC of swamp dwellers we should start by draining the swamp in our own backyard,” Bentivolio added.
Bentivolio learned the hard way what happens when the establishment wants to crush an individual deemed dangerous to the status quo, but he will have his day in court yet. He still holds out hope that he can get his Congressional seat back, which has since been squandered to the Democrats.
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