A self-styled populist Democratic candidate for the Virginia governorship received an honorarium payment from the alumni organization of an elite secret society at Yale University, according to financial disclosure forms.
Tom Perriello, a progressive who served as a representative from Virginia's 5th Congressional district from 2009 to 2010 but lost his congressional seat during the Tea Party wave, is running against Ralph Northam, the state's lieutenant governor, in June's Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Perriello attended Yale as an undergrad and again for law school and has described himself on numerous occasions as a "pragmatic populist."
"I'm a populist in the sense that I think the people are often smarter about what's going on than the leadership in Washington," Perriello said in an interview with the Collegiate Times. "I'm a populist in the sense that I think we need to understand that growth really comes from the purchasing power of the working middle class out, it doesn't trickle down from the top. I'm a pragmatist in that I'm not out here to be a bomb thrower, I’m out here to solve problems."
Despite his populist claims, Perriello's financial disclosure forms during his time in Congress show he was paid by a group of elites who operate in secrecy.
Perriello received a $1,000 honorarium payment from the Kingsley Trust Association, according to his 2009 disclosure. The Kingsley Trust Association is the alumni organization of the Scroll and Key, an elite secret society at Yale that is seen as the alternative to the infamous Skull and Bones.
When the Washington Free Beacon reached out to Perriello's campaign to get comment on the payment, Remi Yamamoto, the press secretary of Tom Perriello for Virginia, passed the inquiry to Ian Sams, the communications director for the campaign, who called the Free Beacon an "unglued publication."
Below is the email exchange in its entirety:
My name is Joe Schoffstall and I'm a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon.
I'm writing because I saw on Tom Perriello's financial disclosure forms during his time in Congress that he was paid $1,000 honorarium from Kingsley Trust Association, the alumni organization to the Scroll and Key, an elite secret society at Yale.
I'm writing to get comment on this payment, since it appears Tom was a member of the secret society.
I've attached a screen shot of the relevant portion of the disclosure form.
Ian Sams: what?
WFB: I'm writing to get comment on the honorarium payment Tom received from the Kingsley Trust Association. Was this the same Kingsley Trust Association that is the alumni organization of the Scroll and Key at Yale?
Sams: care to elaborate on why your already-unglued publication plans to cover a near decade-old honorarium?
WFB: It's never been reported before. Tom says he's a populist, so a speech to an elite secret society at Yale is relevant to that.
Would you like to add further comment beyond "what?" and calling us an unglued publication?
Sams: nope, that about accurately sums up my reaction.
"Given the great number of flip-flops Perriello has engaged in already, it's no surprise that his faux-populism is just another sham too," Scott Sloofman, spokesman for the America Rising PAC, told the Free Beacon. "After all this is a guy who pretends Charlottesville is in the heart of Appalachia."
After Perriello left Congress, he joined a liberal think tank and later made his way to the State Department.
Perriello was named president and chief executive officer at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in December 2011, a progressive advocacy organization founded by John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager.
Perriello was compensated handsomely during his time at CAP.
Perriello was tapped in July 2015 by then-Secretary of State John Kerry to replace Russ Feingold, who left the position for his failed Wisconsin Senate campaign, as the Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo.