The real estate agent at the center of the “Italygate” electoral conspiracy theory
A Virginia real estate agent appears to have played a central role in raising a wacky conspiracy theory that satellites were used to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump.
The agent also appears to have been caught lying that she owned and resided on a historic $ 30 million Virginia farm.
The agent in question is Michele Roosevelt Edwards, who is also sometimes known as Michele Ballarin, among other pseudonyms. Earlier this month, the Washington post explained how Edwards was once a ‘struggling single mom’ who reinvented herself as a well-connected business leader. Along the way, she also introduced herself as some sort of Somali specialist who had ties to the leadership of the African country and who could negotiate with the infamous pirates in the region.
But recently published documents also linked Edwards to a conspiracy theory known as “Italygate”. The plot specifically claims that an Italian defense contractor coordinated with CIA officials to rig the 2020 US presidential election. The conspirators were theoretically successful using satellites and other technology to change the votes in favor of Trump to support current President Joe Biden instead.
There is no indication that anything of the sort happened, with Reuters specifically claiming that evidence has refuted the theory. Monday, The daily beast called Italygate “the craziest electoral conspiracy to date”.
Edwards’ link to the theory comes from two companies she oversees. The first is USAerospace Partners. According to To post, a letter detailing the Italygate theory appeared on letterhead from USAerospace and reached White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in December.
It’s unclear how Meadows got the letter in the first place, the To post reported, but he then sent it to Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
USAerospace is, according to the To post, a “little-known Virginia aviation company.” The company is best known for entering and purchasing Icelandic WOW Air in 2019 after the low-cost carrier shut down. At the time, Edwards (usually as Michele Ballarin) was mentioned widely in airline trade publications as among the owners of USAerospace, and the plan was for WOW Air to resume flights in the near future – although that never happened.
According to his LinkedIn page, Edwards is the president of USAerospace and WOW Air. And the To post described USAerospace as “Edwards’ company”.
Despite these links, however, when Discussion Notes contacted Edwards for a brief phone interview, she denied any knowledge of the letter, then hung up.
Inman asked for comment at Edwards’ apparent phone number and most recent email address, but received no response. USAerospace also did not respond to Inman’s request for comment.
However, Edwards’ connections to conspiracy theory don’t end with USAerospace.
According to To postEdwards also runs another company called the Institute for Good Governance (IGG) which also disseminated the theory of Italygate. In this case, IGG issued a press release in January detailing what it described as a “shocking statement” from an Italian defense contractor.
According to the press release – an archived version of which can still be viewed online – the entrepreneur claimed to have used “computer systems and military satellites” to modify the votes. The statement goes on to describe this as a “flawless plot to bring down America” as well as “proof that the election was indeed stolen.”
The press release was a co-production with Nations In Action, a non-profit organization run by Conservative political agent Maria Strollo Zack. the To post described Zack as having “embraced the conspiracy theory” and reported that she personally spoke to President Trump about Italygate on December 24.
It’s unclear, however, how Zack and his nonprofit came to work with Edwards and his company on a conspiracy theory press release. Zack declined to comment on To post, and did not respond to Inman’s request for comment.
What is clear, however, is that Edwards’ two companies both appear to have been involved in spreading the debunked story.
Other parts of Edwards’ public figure appear to be falling apart as well.
In February, Edwards gave an interview to an Icelandic television crew. The interview took place at North Wales Farm, a historic Virginia estate, and was meant to focus on the long-delayed rebirth of WOW Air.
Edwards was asked during the interview why the house was lacking personal belongings. She replied that the estate was a “recent acquisition” and that it was “not a leased property, I can assure you”. In other parts of the interview, she said the property was not for sale and described a room as “my bedroom”.
However, the domain actually appears to be for sale, with an active listing asking price of just under $ 30 million.
the To post also discovered that the property is owned by the company of a now deceased financier, not Edwards. The financier’s widow told The Post she didn’t know Edwards, and when shown a video of Edwards inside the house, replied, “She’s in my house. How is she with me?
Edwards’ claims about the estate are all the more curious given that she apparently has a real estate background herself. Edwards appears to have worked as a real estate agent at Sager Real Estate, a Virginia-based brokerage house. Although her name does not currently appear on the company’s website, a cached version of the site lists Michele Ballarin as a licensed real estate agent in Virginia with a Sager email address.
Ballarin’s photo on Sager’s site appears to show the same person from the Icelandic TV interview and other public appearances Edwards has made.
The cached version of the website is dated June 15, 2021 – four days before the To post published his story.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long Edwards had worked at Sager, or how active she was as a real estate agent. Inman reached out to Sager Real Estate by phone and email with questions about Edwards’ work, but did not immediately receive a response.
Without Edwards’ own input, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on. But the succession and conspiracy theory episodes come after a long and colorful career for Edwards. According to To post, she married a real estate developer over three decades ago and in 1986 ran for Congress as a Republican in West Virginia, but lost.
In the late 2000s, she claimed to have played a key role in freeing the Somali pirate hostages, although a Wikileaks document said officials actually believed she was in the way, according to the report. To post. A retired Navy office at the time reportedly said, “The problem with Michele is separating fact from fiction. What is real and what is invented?
For now at least, it looks like the same can be said for Edwards’ more recent efforts.
Email Jim Dalrymple II