The Washington Post has uncovered the startling background of a Virginia woman leading two firms peddling the “Italygate” rigged election theory to the White House claiming that an Italian defense contractor used military satellites to switch votes to Joe Biden.
In one particularly outlandish incident, business executive and one-time Republican congressional candidate Michele Roosevelt Edwards sat for a TV interview in a $30 million Virginia mansion she claimed was her home. In fact it was up for sale and the owner had no idea she was there, the Post reported.
Despite the unusual details of Edwards’ background and the fantastical theory pushed by her firms, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows nevertheless pressed then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to look into Italygate. “Pure insanity,” Rosen’s deputy wrote to him when he was informed of the “plot.” Rosen did not launch a probe.
The fringe theory first turned up in White House communications in December in a note under the letterhead of Virginia aviation company USAerospace Partners, which is run by Edwards, according to state corporate filings reviewed by the Post. That was the letter Meadows forwarded to Rosen.
In addition, the Institute for Good Governance, also led by Edwards, released a statement in January that a hacker had admitted being involved in the weird satellite scheme, the Post reported.
There have been a number of signs that election theories espoused by Edwards’ firms merit suspicion.
Edwards sat for an interview after the election with a journalist from the Icelandic Kveikur investigative TV series in a $30 million, 22-bedroom Virginia mansion on 1,500 acres that she claimed was her residence. Edwards boasted in the interview that she “flies the chefs here” for “all three” of the kitchens.
The journalist remarked on the absence of personal effects, and pointed out that the property was listed for sale. “It’s a recent acquisition for us,” she cooly responded.
In fact, the mansion was up for sale at the time by a company founded by a retired financier who died last year, the Post reported. His widow had no idea Edwards was there, according to the newspaper.
“She’s in my house,” the woman told the Post after being shown Edwards’ interview. “How is she in my house?”
Edwards is a licensed realtor, but her firm was not hired to sell the mansion, noted the Post.
Edwards refused to respond to questions from the newspaper, saying she is “not giving media interviews at this time.” However, she denied any knowledge of the Italygate letter to the White House, reported Talking Points Memo, but hung up when pressed further.
Edwards, who changed her name just last year from Michele Ballarin, was featured in a Post magazine piece in 2013 as a “struggling single mom” who had “reinvented herself” as a business executive and socialite who claimed she had successfully negotiated with warlords and pirates in Somalia.
In fact, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko pleaded with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009 to “facilitate the exclusion” of Edwards — whom he referred to as “Ms. Golden-Ballarin” — from the “negotiation process with the pirates” because her actions were inciting them to up their ransom demands, according to a cable obtained by WikiLeaks.
Edwards was interviewed by Kveikur because she purchased the failed WOW Air company in Iceland in 2019 and promised to get the low-cost carrier up and running in six months.
“WOW is not up and running, or flying, although Michele has repeatedly announced news, reported high-level appointments in Iceland, Russia, and Italy, discussed how WOW will also be flying from Italy — and even her involvement in the restructuring of the Italian airline Alitalia,” said a story posted by Kveikur. “Nothing has so far materialized.”
Many of her announcements “remain just that: announcements. Nothing happens,” the story added. “Is Michele Roosevelt Edwards for real?”
Check out the entire report on Edwards and more background on the birth of Italygate in The Washington Post here. The full video with Edwards from Iceland’s Kveikur TV series and story is available here.
Also on HuffPost
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.