TAMPA — Sometimes a cigar is a political statement.
That’s the idea behind sendclintoncigars.com, a Tampa-based website that has so far sent Hillary Clinton’s New York campaign office more than 2,000 cigars, with the ultimate goal of sending a million while raising money for military related charity.
“If you’re tired of Hillary’s lies, cheating, and deceitful practices join us in telling her ‘No cigar in 2016!’ by purchasing a cigar that will be delivered, with thousands of others, directly to her 2016 Campaign Headquarters!” declares the website, a nod to the 1998 sex scandal involving then-President Bill Clinton and then-intern Monica Lewinsky.
The ensuing uproar over the affair led to revelations about the use of a cigar for sexual purposes.
The website was the brainchild of Army veteran Rob Peters and some friends, who were having a discussion on Facebook shortly after Clinton announced her bid for the White House.
“It started as an off-hand comment,” Peters said.
That comment turned into action, Peters said, as he and his business partner, Eric Haskins, also a veteran, created the website, which launched April 22.
“We believe that America is ready for a female president, but not Hillary,” said Peters, 41, one of the founders of Far Sighted Media Inc., a Tampa media holding firm. “She’s emotionally unstable, combative, deceitful, and demonstrates no good qualities as a leader. Everything she touches comes back mired in conspiracy, deceit and misdirection. She demonstrates, as the recent Clinton Foundation debacle shows, no loyalty to America or to it’s citizens.”
As of Thursday, the cigars were still en route to the Clinton office, he said.
Officials from the Clinton campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.
The website grew popular after it was featured in conservative media forums, eventually winding up on the Facebook page of conservative talk show host Glenn Beck.
“We had to spend the weekend updating our servers because they were getting hit so hard,” said Peters, who, along with Haskins, is a web developer.
So far, the website has had 2.5 million unique page views, Peters said.
The cigars, Peters said, are purchased from the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. in Ybor City at a bulk discount of 36 cents each. They can be purchased and shipped from the anti-Hillary wesbite — one for $3, three for $5 or five for $10.
“We want to give 80 percent of the money to charity,” Peters said, with the rest going to purchasing and shipping.
The ultimate goal of finding a charity to accept the funds may be difficult.
Peters said that so far, the Wounded Warrior Project has declined to accept.
“They have to remain neutral,” said Peters. “They really didn’t give that as a specific reason, but if you look at their website, they have to stay out of fundraising that involves politics at all.”
Peters said he will keep looking until he finds a military-themed charity willing to accept the money.
The cigar effort is not strictly partisan, Peters said, adding that he works with Democrats and Republicans and that he is a Libertarian.
So who does he want in the White House?
“I would really love to see Gary Johnson,” he said, referring to the former New Mexico governor who ran unsuccessfully for President in 2012.
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