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EXCLUSIVE: Trump's company to rumble with Twitter from Sarasota County | Opinion

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Rumble is a video platform company, and its controversial move to Sarasota County recently caused just that: a rumble.

Now for something far more seismic, that should really rattle the dishes in the cupboards of conservatives and critics alike: Donald Trump’s media company is only 11 miles away from Rumble.

The details of how Trump’s company wound up on North Cattlemen Road, in an industrial part of Sarasota, are unknown, but indeed it’s here, according to state business records, and suddenly we have become a ring girl in the fight between Trump, Big Tech, Twitter and Elon Musk.

On April 18, state records show that Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. registered as a business in Florida and used an office building on North Cattlemen Road in Sarasota as its address.

Former President Donald Trump holds a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on April 23, 2022.

The eight officers in the company – including Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr. and former California Congressman Devin Nunes – also list the Sarasota address, though there is no indication any of the officers have any connection locally, well, aside from the fact Trump was farcically honored as “Statesman of the Year” by Joe Gruters and the Sarasota County GOP, ahem, twice.

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Donald Trump, on right, with former Sarasota County GOP Chairman Joe Gruters, left. Trump spoke to some 1,400 people at Van Wezel as part of his “Statesman of the Year” Award from the Republican Party of Sarasota on May 21, 2015.

So why is this such a big deal? Because Trump Media & Technology Group owns a social media app called Truth Social, which is Trump’s antagonistic answer to Twitter.

Trump formed Truth Social a year after he was permanently barred from Twitter in the days after January 6, 2021 “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Truth Social has essentially been a fiasco since its launch, as technical issues have prevented many people from downloading it on Apple. At one point, there were over a million people on a waitlist, and it grew so bad that one analyst in March reported downloads had decreased by 90%.

Then came the big announcement, just four days after Trump’s company registered in Florida and he became Sarasota’s most famous businessman since John Ringling, or Art Nadel, depending with whom you speak.

On April 22, a press release stated that Rumble had “successfully migrated Truth Social’s website and mobile applications to Rumble’s Cloud infrastructure,” and that “Truth Social’s move marks the first significant customer to come on board with Rumble.”

Nunes, the company’s CEO, could hardly contain himself while announcing the news during a TV interview Friday on Real America’s Voice, calling Truth Social “one of the fastest-growing social media companies, ever, in history. We’re massive and we’re riding on Rumble’s rails.”

In this Oct. 19, 2018 file photo, former President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony as former Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. looks on. Trump was presenting one of the nation’s highest civilian honors to Nunes.

Now let’s be clear: it was Trump’s choice to move this operation to Sarasota. Trump signed off on it. He is in Sarasota for a reason, and it can’t be a coincidence that Rumble, a company based in Canada, recently made Longboat Key its United States headquarters.

Only 11 miles separate the two addresses. Maybe they are sharing a server. Hopefully, no one in Sarasota drives into a telephone pole and knocks the whole operation off-kilter.

Anyway, the total migration of Truth Social to Rumble is major news for Trump and the MAGA movement as it gives him a platform like Twitter that is now more accessible to his followers.

The ex-president had nearly 90 million followers on Twitter. All he had to do was hit “tweet’’ and seas would rise and stocks would fall. That is no longer an option as the company recently said it will not reinstate him.

If Trump plans to run in 2024, as most think he will, he needs a similar platform. Now he has one. Not only that, but he would now have a weapon with which to battle Musk, the world’s richest man who is attempting to buy Twitter.

Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter.

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It is also interesting to note that both companies are expected to be involved in mergers that could make them worth billions.

Rumble apparently approached Enterprise Florida – a state economic development entity chaired by Gov. Ron DeSantis – last year about placing its U.S. headquarters in the state. Enterprise Florida then contacted the much-maligned Sarasota County Economic Development Corp. about moving to Longboat Key.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is the chairman of Enterprise Florida, the state economic entity that helped bring Rumble to Sarasota County.

At a meeting on Oct. 26, Sarasota County Commissioners voted to give an incentive deal worth $825,000 of taxpayer money to Rumble, contingent upon the number of employees it brought to the county.

The commissioners approved this despite not knowing the actual name of the company.

Rumble’s presence in Sarasota County later drew citizen protests when it was revealed that the platform was one of the few in the world to allow Russian state television during the invasion of Ukraine.

Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski

Rumble, which ultimately did not receive incentive money after the county disbanded its grant program, is expected to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, called CF Acquisition Corp. The transaction may provide $400 million in cash to the company and make it worth $2 billion.

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On Oct. 20, around the same time that Rumble was making plans to move to Longboat Key, Trump announced his media company was expected to go public after merging with a SPAC called Digital World Acquisition Group, which reportedly could make the company worth $1.7 billion.

The New York Times did, however, report that the transaction process may have violated securities laws as Trump was allegedly speaking with a Florida financier months in advance of the shell company being publicly traded.

At any rate, the structure of Trump’s company has changed dramatically since it registered in Florida.

Nunes, who served 19 years in Congress before leaving to run Trump’s new venture, is listed on the filing as the company’s CEO.

Trump is listed as director, along with Donald Trump, Jr., Kashyap Patel and Wes Moss.

Donald Trump Jr., speaking at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds on July 3, 2021.

Moss is a former contestant on Trump’s television show “The Apprentice,” who reportedly pitched the idea of Truth Social to the former president.

Patel formerly worked as an aide to Nunes on the House Intelligence Committee and was vocal in delegitimizing the FBI and the Justice Department during the Russian probe.

His name reportedly surfaced numerous times in depositions regarding Trump’s alleged plan to withhold military support for Ukraine, which led to his impeachment. He was seen by some as Trump’s point man in dealing with Ukraine.

Patel recently appeared before the Select Committee investigating January 6. A letter from the committee to Patel stated, in part, “there is substantial reason to believe you have documents and information relevant to understanding the role played by the Department of Defense and the White House in preparing for, and responding to, the attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

Obscure Phillip Juhan serves as the chief financial officer, while Andrew Northwall is the chief operating officer. Scott Glabe, a former special assistant to Trump in the White House before moving to the Department of Homeland Security, is general counsel.

What makes this even more interesting is the fact Trump’s company also registered as a business in Georgia one month before it did in Florida, but only Nunes and Juhan were listed as officers in that particular filing. Trump was not. Neither were the others. They were added to the Florida filing last week.

Wow, who would have ever thought it possible? General Michael Flynn, Patrick Byrne, Sidney Powell, Charlie Kirk, the Cyber Ninjas, and Steve Bannon, just to name a few, all with ties to Sarasota County.

Big names, definitely, just nothing like this.

Chris Anderson

I mean, Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States, right here, in Sarasota County, on North Cattlemen Road!

Indeed, our very own “Statesman of the Year” has finally come home.

Contact Herald-Tribune columnist Chris Anderson at chris.anderson@heraldtribune.com. Please support local journalism by purchasing a subscription.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Trump establishes social media company in Sarasota near Rumble