Exclusive: Trump-Aligned Bernie Moreno, His Family Push Back on ‘Disgrace,’ ‘Untrue’ Smear from Establishment on His Background

Ohio GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Moreno, a businessman and immigrant from Colombia, and his family members are pushing back hard on an establishment-Republican driven smear on his background they say is “untrue” and a “disgrace.”

Moreno, whom former President Donald Trump has spoken very highly of, including hyping his entrance into the 2024 GOP primary field, moved to the United States from Colombia with his family when he was just five years old. In Colombia, his father was a renowned doctor—and when the family of nine moved to Florida he had to take a job as a surgical assistant until he eventually got his medical license here in the United States. While Trump has not yet endorsed anyone in the 2024 GOP primary for U.S. Senate—the eventual winner of the nomination will face Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in one of the likeliest GOP pickup opportunities in November 2024—his warm reception of Moreno suggests he is leaning that way.

One other candidate is formally running at this stage, state Sen. Matt Dolan—whose family changed the name of the Major League Baseball team they own from the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians—who lost to now-Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) in the primary in 2022. Dolan has been extremely anti-Trump, and Trump has ripped him repeatedly in the past, including issuing in 2022 a statement saying he would not be endorsing Dolan before he eventually endorsed Vance, so it seems unlikely that Dolan would get the nod from the former and possible future president. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who has not formally entered the race but is reported to be considering doing so, was caught on tape this week downplaying the significance any Trump endorsement would have in Ohio.

AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File

Senate candidate J.D. Vance, left, greets former President Donald Trump at a rally at the Delaware County Fairground, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio, to endorse Republican candidates ahead of the Ohio primary on May 3. (Joe Maiorana, File/AP)

All of this makes a smear that appeared in the U.K. Daily Mail all the more significant. A headline published on Friday questions whether Moreno is “Ohio’s George Santos” and says, “GOP Senate hopeful Bernie Moreno is accused of reinventing himself as Colombian immigrant who came to the US with ‘absolutely nothing’ after boasting about growing up with ‘outsized privilege’ years earlier.”

While the headline seems particularly inflammatory, the actual article is about as thin as it could possibly be and even admits the premise of the piece and the headline are untrue. “Unlike Santos, there is no evidence Moreno has made up large swaths of his family, education, or career history,” the Daily Mail admits halfway through the article, burying the newspaper’s own admission that the smear it laundered in an inflammatory headline and an article that quotes only anonymous establishment Republicans in Ohio is not accurate.

What’s more interesting about this saga is a seeming desperation on the part of establishment Republicans to wrest control of the GOP away from Trump and his strongest supporters, and there is perhaps no better evidence of that than what has transpired in Ohio in recent years. Obviously, Trump won Ohio big time in both 2016 and 2020—and his 2022 endorsement propelled Vance into the U.S. Senate—but establishment Republicans aligned with the old guard of the state’s party leaders have long been trying to wrest control back from the Trump wing of the party.

“These laughable attacks from the anti-Trump establishment only prove just how terrified they are of our campaign,” Moreno told Breitbart News in response to the smear. “The establishment insiders and the career politicians hate me because they know that I’m a pro-Trump political outsider, who isn’t beholden to the corrupt D.C. swamp. I’m running for Senate to put America First and fight back against the politicians in both parties who have sold out American workers and families for far too long.”

As evidence to back up their case, the Daily Mail—again, relying entirely on anonymous GOP establishment figures—quotes from several different interviews Moreno has given over the years discussing his background.

The core of the case is that these anonymous establishment Republicans argue that Moreno saying his mother and family lived in “outsized privilege” in Colombia before coming to the United States and struggling here was somehow inconsistent and was somehow like Santos’s famous fabulist tendencies. But documents that the Daily Mail reviewed—also obtained by Breitbart News—show that both of Moreno’s central claims about his background are in fact true. When the Moreno family moved to the United States in the early 1970s, his father was a renowned surgeon in Colombia—but he could only get a job as a “surgical assistant” at a South Florida hospital with a meager salary just north of $10,000 a year. In today’s dollars, that’s about $70,000—and with a family of nine, as Moreno’s parents had seven children—that is a very modest and minimal income that would suggest they struggled before he eventually got his medical license here in the United States.

“GOP strategists opposed to Moreno have sought to compare him to Santos over his statements,” the Daily Mail wrote:

Earlier this year Santos admitted lying about working at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and attending Baruch College and New York University Stern School of Business.

“Bernie Moreno is the second coming of George Santos. God forbid Bernie Moreno ends up as the GOP nominee in Ohio,” one strategist, who asked to stay anonymous, said. ‘This is a s***show waiting to happen.”

‘This fact pattern around Moreno is egregious because it directly calls into question his trust and credibility. Sherrod Brown would have a field day with it and it’s the kind of liability that could spread to other Republican candidates on the ballot in the general election.”

But in the Daily Mail piece, Moreno’s spokesman Conor McGuiness correctly notes that none of the quotes cited by the newspaper—as clearly provided by these anonymous establishment Republicans—conflicted with each other. McGuiness said that of all the quotes cited by the Daily Mail, they “are not in conflict with each other in any way.”

“Bernie is a well-known businessman and community leader in Cleveland and has been for many years now,” McGuiness said. “Nothing in this story shows any inconsistencies regarding his personal or professional background.”

While none of these anonymous people would put their names on the smear, which even the Daily Mail itself says there is no evidence for, Breitbart News reached out directly to the personal cell phones of both Dolan and LaRose for comment asking what the candidate and possible candidate personally think of this tactic. Neither one of them condemned the smear. Dolan did not respond to multiple inquiries. LaRose replied and referred Breitbart News to his press aide Rob Nichols.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Dolan addresses the media after his loss to J.D. Vance during an election night watch party at the Tavern of Independence on May 3, 2022, in Independence, Ohio. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

“This wasn’t us,” Nichols said when reached by Breitbart News. But Nichols would not condemn the smear when asked. “If I have something more to say, I’ll call you back.”

Moreno’s family members are furious with the smear too. His brother Jose Moreno told Breitbart News that he is pleasantly surprised, though, that the Daily Mail even admitted in the story that it was untrue.

“As my brother Bernie has said repeatedly, we were well off in Colombia, but we left that behind and came to America with very little,” Jose Moreno said. “We went from living comfortably in Colombia to moving into a cramped 2 bedroom apartment with our grandmother in Florida. Nothing Bernie has said about our upbringing is untrue, which the Daily Mail was even forced to acknowledge in their story.”

Moreno’s sister Vicki Moreno also backed up her brother saying this smear is a “disgrace to our family.”

“I vividly remember my father working for very little pay at Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, while studying to obtain his Florida license,” Vicki Moreno said. “It was a humbling experience after being at the top of his career in Colombia. He would get home exhausted in the middle of the night, only to be told by my mom that he had to drive all the way back, because there was an emergency (no cell phones)! I also remember going to the flea market to sell Colombian artifacts with mom. Both my parents made sure we all worked as they led by example. It is a disgrace to our family that the Daily Mail would publish such lies.”


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