A GOP congressional primary challenger in Michigan says he detests "America's crime epidemic." His top consultant was convicted of robbing a Subway restaurant years after receiving a felony cocaine charge.
John Gibbs, who is challenging Rep. Peter Meijer (R., Mich.), since December has paid Cool Strategies LLC more than $20,000 for "campaign management," according to campaign finance disclosures. The firm is registered to Florida native Daniel Cool, who in 2014 was convicted of second-degree felony robbery after he held up a local Subway in Orlando, court records show. While robbing the sandwich chain, Cool placed his hand under his shirt to act as if he had a gun and told a clerk to "give me all the money that you have," the Orlando Sentinel reported. Cool then fled the scene in a convertible Chrysler Sebring.
Gibbs's decision to employ Cool is at odds with his campaign rhetoric. The Republican has railed against "America's crime epidemic" and criticized prosecutors who "refuse to put violent criminals behind bars where they can't hurt innocent Americans." Cool may be familiar with that issue—he did not go to prison for his crime, despite multiple prior arrests.
After an initial not guilty plea, Cool pleaded no-contest and later received an adjudication of guilt from the Florida judge handling the case. As part of his plea deal, Cool was sentenced in January 2014 to just five years probation. His probation was terminated early in March 2018, roughly a decade after Cool was arrested for felony cocaine possession. The Gibbs campaign consultant also saw his driver's license suspended in 2008 after he was charged with fleeing the scene of an accident with property damage. Court records show that Cool moved to Michigan by May 2017, while he was still on probation. He began his work for the Gibbs campaign in the Great Lakes State roughly four years later.
Gibbs told the Washington Free Beacon he is "aware" of Cool's criminal past but stood by the operative, saying he looks forward to Cool "continuing to play an important role in defeating Peter Meijer on August 2 and Hillary Scholten in November."
"I've worked with Dan in a close capacity for the entirety of my campaign and can vouch for his character as a Christian, a family man, and a hard-working member of my staff," Gibbs said. "I was aware that Dan made a mistake during a difficult time in his life. And he has served his time and paid the price."
Cool did not serve time for his robbery.
Cool has appeared at high-profile events with the Gibbs campaign as part of his consulting role. In February, Cool posted a photo alongside Dr. Ben Carson, who has endorsed Gibbs, at a campaign event. Two months later, Cool attended another Gibbs event with Carson and former president Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Cool also helped recruit volunteers to walk with the Gibbs campaign in a Fourth of July parade.
Prior to his congressional run, Gibbs served in Trump's Department of Housing and Urban Development. He landed Trump's endorsement in November, with the former president saying he decided to back Gibbs in part because of Gibbs's affinity for law enforcement.
Meijer, meanwhile, joined Congress in 2021 after defeating Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten by 6 points. He has raised $2 million to Gibbs's $340,000. The two Republicans will square off during Michigan's August 2 primary, with the winner moving on to face Scholten—who is running unopposed in her primary—in November.