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Perry campaign was one of many to pay controversial GOP fundraiser

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

As a prominent GOP fundraiser was formulating plans to capitalize off of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry had him on the payroll as a consultant.

Mike Gula, a longtime powerhouse in Republican politics, in late March emailed clients saying that he would shutter his firm and launch Blue Flame Medical LLC to sell medical equipment that had become scarce, Politico reported.

“Over the last 14 days I have built another business outside politics and will be focusing my full attention there,” he wrote in the email, which was obtained by Politico.

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Congressman Scott Perry attended opening ceremonies at the 104th Pennsylvania Farm Show Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Saturday was the first day of the week-long farm show. Bill Kalina photo

That announcement came March 26, six days after the Carroll Township Republican's most recent payment to the firm for "fundraising expenses," according the first quarter of 2020 data provided by the Federal Election Commission.

In total, Perry's campaign paid Gula about $11,500 in the quarter that spanned Jan. 1 to March 31.

The campaign has paid the firm roughly $175,000 since 2014, FEC records show.

Although all of said payments came before Gula's announcement, based on the timeline stated in Gula's emails, the mid-March payments would have coincided with the two-week period in which the fundraiser was getting his new business up and running.

"The campaign had no knowledge of Mr. Gula's business plan," said Perry campaign spokesman Brian Nutt. "Once the campaign received that notice, the professional relationship ended and any monies paid by the campaign was owed for previous fundraising services."

Gula opened Blue Flame Medical LLC with John Thomas, another Republican consultant.

The move drew criticism because the men were seemingly capitalizing on the coronavirus pandemic. It also prompted questions as to how they obtained hard-to-find equipment, such as N95 masks, during a national shortage.

Neither man has specified how they obtained the equipment, with Thomas telling Politico that "it's just relationship-based."

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Perry is just one name on a long list of Republicans who had utilized Gula's firm for fundraising and consulting.

Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Martha McSally of Arizona and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota have also relied on the firm for years, Politico reported.

That list also includes U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., whose campaign paid Gula $11,700 for consulting on March 20.

Toomey's campaign has paid the firm roughly $840,000 since 2011, according to FEC records.

“Neither Senator Toomey or anyone on his staff had any knowledge of Mr. Gula’s activities until he informed us of his decision to close his firm," Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly said.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.