Trump-backed GOP candidate rips ‘sick’ report tying him to gay hookup website: ‘Desperate people’

Ohio Senate candidate Bernie Moreno and his legal team are pushing back against a report, ahead of the state’s GOP primary, that tried to link him to previously holding an account on an adult hookup website.

The Associated Press published a report Thursday claiming that an Adult Friend Finder (AFF) account was created in 2008 using an email linked to Trump-backed candidate Moreno, who is running in a heated primary contest for a critical Senate seat in Ohio.

The AP could not confirm that the account was created by Moreno himself, but only that his email address was used to make the account. Former intern Dan Ricci then came forward saying he was the one who created the account as part of a “prank,” which he said in a letter that he is “thoroughly embarrassed” by.

“It’s a sick, last-minute attack by desperate people. This is what they do. Look at what they did to Judge (Brett) Kavanaugh, look at what they did to President Trump,” Moreno told Politico in a statement blasting the report.


Former President Donald Trump, left, endorsed Republican candidate Bernie Moreno for the Ohio Senate race. (Bernie Moreno campaign)

Charles Harder, legal counsel for Bernie Moreno, also shot down the claims and detailed the prank that he says Moreno “had nothing to do with.”

“16 years ago an intern at Moreno Auto created an account at AFF as a prank, which he quickly abandoned that same day. We have provided AP a copy of a signed letter from that intern, admitting to this, as well as another signed letter from a former VP of Mr. Moreno’s company, confirming this intern’s employment at the time the account in question was created,” Harder said in a statement shared with Fox News Digital. “The email address in question was not Bernie’s personal email address, but rather an email address that appeared on company websites and literature and was managed by staff. Multiple people had access to it, including this intern. Bernie Moreno had nothing to do with the AFF account.”


“According to metadata, the AFF account was never even used — there were no communications or contacts sent to or from any other AFF accounts, and no photos or content were uploaded to it,” Harder added. “The AFF account existed for less than a half-day, 16 years ago.”

Bernie Moreno

Senate candidate Bernie Moreno is acknowledged at a rally with former President Donald Trump at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio, on April 23, 2022. (Joe Maiorana)

A senior Republican strategist, who asked not to be named due to fear of retaliation, said the “story seems to be shifting.”

“Bernie’s story seems to be shifting. For weeks, his campaign told everyone that the metadata of the website would prove his innocence, but then the AP blew up that claim,” they told Fox. “Now, Bernie is saying an intern went to where Bernie’s parents lived in Florida and created a gay dating profile for him as a prank. It just doesn’t pass the smell test.” 

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Moreno is running to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. (Tom Williams)

Moreno’s Republican primary opponents did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

The Ohio Senate race is one of the GOP’s best pickup opportunities in 2024 and is labeled a “toss up,” according to Cook Political Report.

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