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“I am a Professional Propagandist”

Former lobbyist finds niche as political operative


Last week, TBT reported on "Real Manatee County Conservatives," an Astroturf group that was sending unsolicited emails to Manatee County residents which appeared to be running cover for some county commissioners as they prepared to vote in favor of gutting Manatee County’s wetland protections. TBT has since unearthed statements made by the group's political operative that add additional context to the strategies being employed.

As TBT reported last week, Jennings Lawton DePriest’s firm, Top Lobster LLC—which bills itself as “an elite team of digital assassins who do what it takes to win”—was discovered to be behind the communications that were sent to Manatee County residents alleging that Suncoast Waterkeeper was a Soros-funded organization of liberals pushing a “Green New Deal” agenda. The communications directly attacked Republican County Commissioner George Kruse, the only member of the all-Republican board to vote against the item when it was brought up for transmittal to the state.

Referring to him at times as “Comrade Kruse,” one post asked, “The real question is why Fake Republican George Kruse and his wife keep defending liberals.”

“I am a professional propagandist is probably the best way to describe this,” DePriest told the STICK TALK PODCAST when he appeared on an episode published on Nov. 30, 2022.

While describing his business, DePriest explained, “Unlike normal marketing, on the political side, I don't just get to sell my product. I don't just get to sell my candidate or my issue, I get to trash (his emphasis) the other candidate or issue too, which is like probably my favorite part.”

In another clip, DePriest explains the way cross-referenced voter and consumer data can be obtained and used to more precisely target the intended audience.

More Astroturfing?

In advance of Tuesday’s vote on the conveyance of an 8.7-acre parcel of county-owned property to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation—a non-profit that will build affordable housing for veterans—residents again reported receiving texts and direct mail pieces like the one below:

" - there's a vote to put a homeless shelter smack in the middle of our neighborhood!

Commissioner George Kruse's latest plan gives away $6 million in taxpayer lands to a New York DEVELOPER so they can build a homeless shelter next door to our neighborhood.

This homeless camp could house hundreds of homeless – and there is no guarantee the developer won't ship homeless from across the nation to OUR community.

If this passes, our neighborhoods, our parks, and our home values will NEVER recover.

This NEW YORK Developer's plan will only exacerbate Manatee's already growing homelessness problem.

Here's how you can help:

Call the County Commissioners at (941) 745-3700 and tell them to vote NO on the proposed homeless shelter at 66th and Cortez.

Sign the petition at safeneighborhoodalliance.org

Speak AGAINST the homeless shelter at tomorrow's county commission meeting at 9am at 1112 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205.


Can I count on you to help keep our community safe?

Safe Neighborhood Alliance
Reply Stop to OPTout Sent from my iPhone"

The communication referred to the project as a “homeless shelter,” the same misleading language that was used by Manatee County Commission Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge when promoting a town hall the commissioner had scheduled for August 19.

The project, which seemed to enjoy strong support from the board when first presented, later fell out of favor with Van Ostenbridge and other commissioners. When Kruse—who has been ostracized by his fellow developer-backed Republicans after failing to fall in line on multiple votes, including the wetlands issue—was the last supportive voice for the project, it seemed doomed to failure.

In August, Van Ostenbridge successfully convinced the board to delay the item 6-8 weeks, with only Kruse dissenting. In September, Commissioner Jason Bearden, who had joined Van Ostenbridge in citing “concerns” for the original project, suggested that the county could instead build tiny homes on a parcel of county-owned land slated for a park in a rural part of northern Manatee County.

Coming less than a week after the wetlands issue, the new text blasts and direct mail pieces seemed eerily similar to those regarding the wetland vote in terms of providing cover for the board to vote against the project, which had gained considerable support from both the community at large and veteran-related groups.

At first, the meeting seemed to be headed in that direction, as commissioners James Satcher and Jason Bearden aggressively badgered representatives of Tunnels to Towers. However, the propaganda seemed to backfire, failing to create opposition and instead motivating supporters of the project to show up. One after another, members of the public condemned the unsolicited communications and expressed support for the project. After a lunch break and the conclusion of public comment, the mood of the board seemed to change considerably and the project passed unanimously.

TBT was unable to verify whether DePriest or his firm were responsible for the “homeless shelter” communications. The Safe Neighborhood Alliance is not registered as a PAC in Florida, and while TBT was able to associate DePriest with the Real Manatee County Conservatives by the website’s HTML data and the sending party’s email address, that information was hidden on the Safe Neighborhood Alliance site, which contains only a landing page with a form letter that could be sent to commissioners in opposition of the project. Following TBT's reporting, the script author data on the Real Manatee County Conservatives site was changed from "JenningsLawton" to "ComradeKruse."

Registry information available online through WHOIS revealed that the Safe Neighborhood Alliance website was first created on October 2. Residents confirmed to TBT that the hand-addressed letter—which was postmarked from Tampa/StPete—was sent via USPS on October 4. 

It is worth noting that DePriest’s “Letter Lobster” markets the following on its website, all of which match up with the communications received by residents this week:

"Handwritten Envelopes: Your letter will arrive hand-addressed in blue ink, just like a personal note from a friend.

Real Stamps: We use real stamps, not bulk postage.

Personalized, Keepsake-Quality Letter: Every letter is customized with the recipient’s name for an unforgettable experience."

A YouTube video uploaded to Jennings DePriest's channel displays both name logos for his two businesses—Top Lobster and Letter Lobster. 


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  • WTF

    What a claim to fame... laughable .... Reformed Presbyterian....You can run but you can't hide

    Gee sound like any of our commissioners aka the chair

    The Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause that former Tallahassee mayoral candidate Dustin Daniels misused his position as the mayor's chief of staff to secure a special benefit for others.

    Republican Party activist Jennings Lawton DePriest, who filed the complaint, said the ethics commission notified him by phone today of its decision.

    The commission found probable cause that Daniels may have violated state ethics law by purchasing campaign email software with city money while he worked for former Mayor Andrew Gillum.

    Gillum was the unsuccessful Democratic Party candidate for Florida Governor in 2018.

    "The violation of public trust by a public official is a serious matter, espeically when that violation involves the misuse of taxpayer dollars for personal political gain," said DePriest, who could not attend today's hearing because of a previous appointment.



    Top Lobster · Full-timeTop Lobster · Full-time Jan 2019 - Present · 4 yrs 10 mosJan 2019 - Present · 4 yrs 10 mos Sarasota, Florida, United States · On-siteSarasota, Florida, United States · On-site

    Skills: Business Ownership · Copywriting · Start-up Leadership · Start-up Ventures · User Experience (UX)Skills: Business Ownership · Copywriting · Start-up Leadership · Start-up Ventures · User Experience (UX)

    Converge Public Strategies logo

    Digital Strategy DirectorDigital Strategy Director

    Converge Public Strategies · ContractConverge Public Strategies · Contract Jan 2020 - Present · 3 yrs 10 mosJan 2020 - Present · 3 yrs 10 mos Tallahassee, Florida, United StatesTallahassee, Florida, United States

    Skills: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) · Digital Strategy · WordPressSkills: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) · Digital Strategy · WordPress

    Prolydian logo

    Chief Marketing OfficerChief Marketing Officer

    ProlydianProlydian Oct 2017 - Dec 2018 · 1 yr 3 mosOct 2017 - Dec 2018 · 1 yr 3 mos Tallahassee, Florida AreaTallahassee, Florida Area

    Skills: Customer Acquisition · Search Engine Optimization (SEO) · Digital Strategy





    Jennings Lawton DePriest I is a digital marketer from Bradenton, Florida.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2023 Report this

  • Dianna

    Just gotta say thanks because so many people showed up for the meeting............the public made multiple phone calls after receiving the text and sent emails on the item and after witnessing the awesome presentation by T2T they left angry that they were fooled by the deception and much more informed on our government. For many citizens watching at home - it prompted the to join the fight for this project and drop what they were doing to come make an in-person public comment. Thanks to the "Future agenda" public commenters - citizens were out in the hallways asking others what was going on and what was that all about. Awesome- more informed voters and more of the public watching our shameless Commissioners as they rudely babbled about nothing. Hopefully, they will read the League of Women Voters meeting notes in the future to quickly see what is happening at meetings. Thanks Commissioner Kruse for not giving up on this worthy project.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2023 Report this

  • barbaraelliott

    WTF is telling the truth. Thank you.

    Now KVO will be hunted and hounded out of office like other elected officials who do not tow the Good ol boy line.

    Thursday, October 12, 2023 Report this

  • David Daniels

    The way DePriest explains using cross-referenced voter and consumer data to more precisely target an intended audience sounds like the reason that KVO purchased so much private personal demographic information of his constituents.

    Thursday, October 12, 2023 Report this

  • barbaraelliott

    He is a professional political criminal and AHole.

    Thursday, October 12, 2023 Report this

  • Cwright

    James Satcher’s childish, temper tantrum- like demeanor towards the Tunnel To Towers organization leaders on Tuesday was appalling. No one believed for one second that he was

    "excited" about the project, as he lamely kept insisting throughout his double-talk blabbering. He behaved like an insolent brat before his constituents and it was truly embarrassing. And don’t even get me started on Jason Bearden’s incoherent and downright rude rantings. That guy needs serious mental help asap- could probably really benefit from Tunnels to Towers’ wraparound services!

    Professional Propagandist Jennings Lawton DePriest is no better than a criminal internet scammer- and boastfully proud of himself!


    Friday, October 13, 2023 Report this