A former senior aide to a pro-Donald Trump Super PAC disavowed the Republican frontrunner in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, citing what she sees as his rambling, divisive style on the campaign trail.
"I think he has gone too far with the vitriolic statements and lacks substance when it comes to policy," said Stephanie Cegielski, the former spokeswoman for the pro-Trump Make America Great Again PAC.
Cegielski said she initially saw Trump as a positive political force, but that his statements and policy positions, or lack thereof, convinced her that he is unfit to be commander in chief.
"I am glad he has brought more people to the political process but I question his ability to be the leader of this country," she said.
A public relations consultant and New York University instructor, Cegielski was brought on in June as the now-defunct Super PAC’s communications director. She now regularly takes to her Twitter account to attack Trump as unpresidential, narcissistic, and boorish.
"Best quote I heard from a Trump comms staffer—‘I thought Common Core was a class at Equinox,’" she quipped in one recent tweet. In another, aimed at Trump’s Twitter account, she asked, "Could you please stop mentioning your Christianity, you are making the rest of us look bad."
The tone is a reversal from Cegielski’s views just months ago, when she thought Trump was a breath of fresh air.
"When I was with the Super PAC I had hope that he would could [sic] bring a fresh perspective to the political process," she said. "Instead, he has brought disruption and an overinflated ego."
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Cegielski’s remarks.
Make America Great Again PAC launched in June, helmed by Mike Ciletti, a Colorado Republican operative. The group received seed funding from longtime Trump associates and business partners, including $1 million from casino magnate and Trump Hotel Las Vegas investor Phil Ruffin and $100,000 from investor Andy Beal.
The Super PAC also got a $100,000 donation from Seryl Kushner, the wife of real estate investor and Democratic mega-donor Charles Kushner, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2005 after pleading guilty to 18 federal criminal charges, including charges for illegal campaign contributions.
Then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who has since endorsed Trump’s presidential bid, negotiated Kushner’s plea deal.
Make America Great Again PAC only operated for four months. During that period, it reported paying Cegielski’s communications firm $72,500. She was a consultant to the group, she explained, and operated as its chief spokesperson.
Cegielski said she continued to support Trump after the group folded.
"I only started [opposing his candidacy] in the last few months, well after the Super PAC shutting down," she said. "I still supported him for a time after the PAC but then came to my senses."
Asked whether any of Trump’s specific statements or policy positions pushed her over the edge, Cegielski suggested that her concerns were more broad.
"As a communications person I am a strong advocate for sticking to your message," she said. "The problem with his message is that it is all about his poll numbers, the losers of the world and his ability to do everything great."
Cegielski’s distress at Trump’s seemingly inexorable political rise is evident. She has faulted Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, ineffectual anti-Trump political groups, and a Trump-obsessed news media for his continued political success.
As for who she supports now, Cegielski says the prospects are bleak. "Neither side has a candidate that I am comfortable supporting."
"There isn't even a lesser-of-the-two-evils candidate," she said. "This election cycle is frightening."