Roger Stone told TPMmuckraker in an interview today that he retained a private investigator last year to scrutinize the activities of Scott Rothstein, Stone’s onetime business partner who is now being accused of a $100 million fraud involving his south Florida law firm. And, Stone added, he broke with Rothstein earlier this year after Rothstein tried to censor criticism of his friend Gov. Charlie Crist on The Stone Zone, for which Rothstein’s law firm was providing web hosting.
Stone, reached in Ohio where he is working election day, explained that about a year ago Rothstein’s spending — “on luxury cars, real estate, watches, charitable and political donations” — had gotten so out of control that Stone hired private investigator Adam Mangino.
“He came back with two pieces of advice: ‘I don’t know where the money is coming from, but I do know the money is not his,’” Stone says. “It was at that point that I asked Rothstein to dissolve the company.”
The legendary GOP operator (and TPM favorite asked: “Why would one need two Rolls Royces? Why would you need the hard top when you have the convertible?”
Founded in 2006, Rothstein and Stone’s consulting firm was called RRA Consulting and was based at the offices of law firm Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler in Fort Lauderdale. Both Stone and Rothstein’s offices were on the 16th floor of Fort Lauderdale’s landmark Las Olas City Centre, where Stone still maintains a secondary office.
But Stone says the consulting business never had any clients and never opened a bank account. He was surprised to learn that RRA Consulting’s status is listed as “active” in state business records because, he says, he and Rothstein previously agreed to kill the firm.
It should be noted that Stone was quoted in a 2008 newspaper article suggesting that he had in fact done work for RRA. And Stone told the Palm Beach Post earlier today that he was as “surprised as anyone” about the Rothstein charges.
The South Florida Business Journal reported in 2008 that the origins of the “Stone alliance grew out of Rothstein’s involvement with Republican Party fundraising for Gov. Charlie Crist.”
But, about six months ago, Stone tells us, he and Rothstein butted heads over that very issue when Stone criticized Crist, a Rothstein friend and beneficiary of the attorney’s hefty campaign contributions.
Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler was hosting The Stone Zone, home of Stone’s “political punditry and observation,” but, as Stone puts it:
“Scott was unhappy with my criticism of Charlie Crist. He asked to censor me, I refused to be censored, and therefore they declined the sponsorship.” RRA stopped paying Web hosting fees for The Stone Zone.
Rothstein was hugely active in state politics, mostly on the Republican side, according to Stone. And the conduit for much of that activity was Crist, now a candidate for U.S. Senate.
“Rothstein was a reliable check for the Republican state committee. Crist would lean on him to give money to the Republican Party of Florida,” Stone says. “Crist would lean on him to give money to Mel Martinez, which is like raising money for a dead body.”
But, Stone adds, he always had his suspicions about Rothstein’s high-flying lifestyle.
“He had neither the business acumen nor the wherewithal to make this amount of money, honestly. Rothstein could not read a balance sheet, he did not know how.”