A variety of bogus “treatments” or “cures” for COVID-19 have been promoted in MAGA World, from hydroxychloroquine to oleandrin (an extract from the poisonous oleander plant). According to Daily Beast reporters Roger Sollenberger and William Bredderman, one of the companies that has promoted oleandrin as a COVID-19 miracle cure is Propter Strategies — which has ties to two major allies of former President Donald Trump: MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
“It’s an all-too-familiar story at this point: A person pushing an unproven COVID-19 cure — and pushing back against the vaccines — pays the ultimate price for their skepticism,” Sollenberger and Bredderman report. “But this time, there’s a new wrinkle. It’s not just one person dabbling in COVID quackery with tragic results; it’s actually a mysterious dark money organization, with ties to influential MAGA figures like Steve Bannon and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.”
The organization, according to Sollenberger and Bredderman, was Propter Strategies — and the person who became a “victim” of its “secretive work” was partner Kenneth Happel.
“To this day, Propter Strategies is a black hole, despite its high-profile connections and multi-million-dollar budget,” the Beast reporters explain. “Aside from Happel’s account, there is no evidence of Propter’s activities anywhere in the public record. And that might be with good reason: Those activities included hawking the snake-oil COVID treatment oleandrin at the highest levels of the government, as the pandemic’s lethal second wave peaked across the country.”Happel, according to Sollenberger and Bredderman, is presently hospitalized with his second COVID-19 infection — and his wife died from COVID-19 in January.
“In a phone interview from his hospital bed, Happel, 72, remained unrepentant and defiant about the numerous baseless theories that quite likely landed him back in the hospital, and killed the wife he loved dearly,” Sollenberger and Bredderman write. “Happel still places hope in the pseudo-science that he, Propter Strategies, and Lindell had pushed so hard — a proprietary compound derived from oleander extract, which the pillow tycoon and at least one Propter official had invested in.”
Registration data, according to Sollenberger and Bredderman, shows that Happel is the owner of Proper’s website, needsp.us, and Happel has “confirmed” to the Beast “that the Propter Strategies cited on his page was, in fact, the same group linked to those leading MAGA figures.”
“Happel, a former Tea Party activist with an entrepreneurial history that intersects with biotechnology, recounted working on oleandrin in 2020 with Propter board member Andrew Whitney,” Sollenberger and Bredderman note. “A serial entrepreneur and former Bain Capital investor, Whitney was actually pulling oleandrin double-duty — he was on the board at the nonprofit Propter, as well as at Texas-based Phoenix Biotechnologies, whose research centered on the product. Happel also acknowledged the connection to Lindell, who, it turns out, also holds a financial stake in Phoenix Biotechnologies.”
Whitney and Lindell, according to the Beast reporters, “paired up for a MAGA media parade” and promoted oleandrin “as a neglected medical miracle” on right-wing outlets such as Newsmax and Diamond & Silk’s YouTube show. And Lindell “confirmed he still has a financial stake in Phoenix.”
Reprinted with permission from Alternet