“Dustinn Keeling … is very involved with the Republican Party. He has worked on various state house and local campaigns, as well as the presidential campaign of 2008. He is dedicated and committed to the Republican Party and educating his generation. He is currently a Premed student at Southeastern University and wants to attend medical school before pursuing office.”
Claims to fame: President, North Indian River County Republican Club; purported pre-med student, Southeastern University (“a dynamic, Christ-centered university, [which] fosters student success by integrating personal faith and higher learning. Within our loving Pentecostal community, we challenge students to a lifetime of good work and of preparing professionally so they can creatively serve their generation in the Spirit of Christ”); reportedly a “dropout with only 13 college credits”; chair, Southeastern University College Republicans; chair, Florida Federation of Teenage Republicans; founding member & vice chair, Vero Beach TARS (Teen Age Republicans); second vice chair, Hillsborough Teenage Republicans; chair, fundraising committee, Haiti Clinic; perceived egomaniac; accused thief, forger & liar
Keeling’s Facebook profile — which, of course, has been deleted already (you might still be able to see a cache) — lists Ronald Reagan and Ann Coulter as his two (and only two) “Inspirational People.”
Which, we think, tells you everything you need to know about Dustinn Keeling. And with his recent behavior, he’s destined to become one of the all-time great Republicans.
Moral apex: We can’t possibly choose — although the bit about claiming to have cancer after being called out for inconsistencies in handling the finances of a charity aimed at providing medical care in Haiti stands out. Let’s just start where we start, and you can decide which is Dustinn Keeling’s greatest sin…
Dustinn Keeling — that’s Dustinn With Two N’s — (why he dropped “Phillip” and went with a name no one could ever spell correctly, we’ll never know), bartender by trade (this week, anyway) and Young Republican by notoriety, has been cooling his tender 21-year-old tootsies in jail since July 3, 2012 (guess nobody has, or wants to fork over, the total of $135,000 in cash bonds that would free him), when he was booked by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office in Vero Beach, Florida. So far, he’s racked up eight counts of felony third-degree grand theft and five counts of felony utter forged instrument (the latter basically means faking papers; it’ll become clearer in a moment).
Phillip Dustinn Keeling told people he was an ice cream shop owner, a medical student, a Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient and the son of an executive for a major golf club manufacturer, authorities said.
As the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office learned, however, none of those claims turned out to be true. …
— Lamaur Stancil
“Sheriff’s Office investigators find accused fraudster told web of lies as he gained Vero Beach charity’s trust”
TCPalm.com, July 6, 2012
What’d he do? He allegedly stole more than $6,300 (maybe over $7,000, depending on who you ask), from the bank account of — here comes the punch line — the North Indian River County Republican Club, of which he had been president for a little more than a year. To allegedly cover his alleged tracks when the other club members (as well as the grown-ups’ Republican Executive Committee of Indian River County) started breathing down his neck, he allegedly produced forged bank statements showing the club’s account in the black, while in truth it was $519 in the red, “with numerous checks written to benefit Keeling that had nothing to do with the Republican club. One check for $300 was made out to Keeling’s grandmother from whom he had apparently borrowed money.“ Keeling, of course, blamed the bank for any “errors.”
And then there’s the $21,000 cops say he stole from the non-profit Haiti Clinic (a free medical clinic for the poverty-stricken in the earthquake-devastated Caribbean nation), of which Keeling was
chairman of the board and (WPBF and other news outlets got it wrong; Keeling was never chairman; see Larry Kaplan’s comments below) head fundraiser.
“The mission of Haiti Clinic is to provide health care to the residents of Cite Soleil, and at the same time to educate them so that they can eventually run the clinic themselves,” Keeling explained in a press release drumming up excitement for a $100-a-ticket “casino night” (“Health 4 Haiti – Bet On It”) organized to benefit the clinic. “This fundraiser will help provide medications and medical supplies, as well as help us continue to employ a Haitian staff to run the clinic during the time when doctors and staff are not there from the U.S.”
It was a noble cause indeed. And everything seemed to be moving along nicely under Keeling’s command, as demonstrated by receipts Keeling was regularly producing for expenses in the run-up to the event, for which he was reimbursed to the tune of twenty-one grand.
But then, reports WPBF: “Board members became concerned after they had not received any RSVP responses from the 3,000 mailers Keeling claimed to have sent. When other board members confronted Keeling during a meeting, he ‘gave excuses and stated the entire thing was a misunderstanding’…
“Keeling wrote three refund checks to the Haiti Clinic worth more than $17,000, but detectives said the checks bounced for insufficient funds. When Haiti Clinic’s vice president confronted him about the bad checks, Keeling told her that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was in the hospital, the affidavit stated.”
“We found nothing to back up” Keeling’s cancer claim, a detective told TCPalm. “That was another lie. He used something that is very serious and dear to people who are suffering.” TCPalm adds: “Keeling sent one board member, Kathryn Johnston, a photo of himself in a hospital bed. However, Johnston said she recognized the photo as one taken at Sebastian River Medical Center and said several acquaintances had seen him in Vero Beach that week. Keeling admitted to lying about flying to Texas [for treatment], but still claimed he was suffering from cancer.”
And then there was the mysterious “tropical disease”… Pressed further by his higher-ups, Keeling dodged a meeting by saying he had to go to Haiti. When he returned, “he said he had contracted a tropical disease and was in bed at Indian River Medical Center. Republican club members who called and visited the hospital were told that no one named Keeling had been admitted.”
You’d think Dustinn With Two N’s would have known better — a lot better — since he volunteered at IRMC for a year or more when he was in high school. (Perhaps his volunteer days served as his “inspiration” for the cancer story — but that only means he really should have known better.)
In any case, what makes the cancer story even more shameful (it that’s possible) is his involvement with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. (The names of some of his donors are most interesting; Google them… especially Shalayn Gregory — who we think might be his
sister mother; see comments.)
After the jig was up, Keeling wrote the clinic one more check for $7,500, but, said detectives, “that last check was money Keeling gained by defrauding a relative” — an aunt who said Keeling wheedled a total of $17,500 out of her by claiming he owed ten grand to an attorney and the rest to the North Indian River County Republican Club.
In the end, the casino night did go on, but netted only a paltry $2,000, instead of the $40,000 or more such events have raised in the past. And it went on without the set of custom Callaway golf clubs signed by pro golfer Phil Mickelson Keeling — who said “his father was global marketing vice president for Callaway” (he isn’t, and never was; we think his father might actually be a
cardiologist golf course maintenance worker) — promised to donate for an auction at the event.
“A successful fundraiser,” notes TCPalm, “could have netted the nonprofit organization enough money to purchase portable dental units to help volunteers treat people in the impoverished nation who have never visited a dentist. But that didn’t happen… Haiti Clinic leaders said they have to postpone many goals they have for providing improved health care in Haiti.”
Here’s a thought: If Dustinn With Two N’s is short on money for reimbursement, he should start asking for a refund of his donations from these Republican candidates and organizations:
• Republican Women of Indian River – $1,425 ($300 in-kind) — less, of course, the $1,000 “Scholarship awarded to Dustinn Keeling, student attending Southeastern University” (which he might want to give back to the RWIR).
After all, do these folks really want to further their agendas using what appears to be stolen money? Perish the thought!
Oh, wait… They are Republicans.
“I thought he was great. I was encouraged that he recognized The Young Republicans; a lot of people don’t do that.”
— Dustinn Keeling, gushing over then-Florida Governor
(and long-rumored closet case) Charlie Crist
“Senate candidate Crist talks future to GOP in Lakeland”
Donna Kelly, NewsChief.com, October 13, 2009
“Being a Christian, faith-based school and him being a candidate who is strong in his faith is awesome.”
— Dustinn Keeling, gushing over Teabagger & Mitt Romney VP hopeful Marco Rubio
“Rubio Calls For Cutting Spending, Taxes To Save Economy”
Lakeland Ledger, September 15, 2010 (via Project Vote Smart)
“It is a reality check for us. I mean if we don’t do something now, if we don’t start getting involved, we’re not going to have an America anymore.”
— Dustinn Keeling, still gushing over Rubio
“Rubio says he’ll follow conservative agenda at Lakeland campaign stop”
Tampa Bay Online, September 15, 2010
“The trip was an amazing humbling experience and I recommend to any one who’s thinking about going to DO IT! You will never be the same again.”
— Dustinn Keeling
“Volunteer Dustinn Keeling Shares His Experience After the July Team trip”
Haiti Clinic, July 31, 2011
Ann Coulter is kicking ass!
— August 5, 2011
Sitting talking with Rick Santorum he’s one great guy @RickSantorum— August 28, 2011
@RickSantorum great talking with you and wish you the best of luck in your race!!— August 28, 2011
@HaitiClinic can’t wait for my trip down to the clinic!— December 18, 2011
Going to use my candle as a flame thrower at tonight’s Christmas eve service! #Christmaseve #toomuchredandgreen #firehazard— December 25, 2011
Driving the golf cart around the gated community with mimosas in hand on Christmas morning. TFM.— December 28, 2011
Grandpa called my liberal cousin a “whore on the streets of society” at Christmas Eve dinner. TFM.— December 31, 2011
@RickSantorum you can do this Rick! #IowaCaucus #RickSantorum— January 4, 2012
Ending day 9 in Haiti and loving all the clinics with
@baby—#Haiti @HaitiClinic— January 30, 2012
I’m officially 21! #getcrunk #drinkintonight— February 28, 2012
@Syd—haha I feel like leaping back a day I’m so hungover #itsforthechildren— February 29, 2012 @baby—time to get a few tickets then off to traffic court with the axe lol— March 1, 2012
Drinking with the
s—t! @Syd—#drinkintonight— March 10, 2012 @Syd—wtf did we do last night I feel dead…— March 10, 2012
Who all saw the lepercha say yea! #SaintPatricksDay #drinkintonight #getcrunk— March 18, 2012
@Syd—I like this! Our summer is going to be crazy!!— April 28, 2012
Taking a break from facebook for a while…— May 24, 2012
This weekend will be epic…Miami baby! #getcrunk— May 25, 2012
— Tweets preserved from now-deleted Twitter account, dustinn228
Dustinn Keeling exudes charisma and leaves an impression on people, said Rita Richardson of Vero Beach. In December, Keeling led a Republican Club auction at Capt. Hiram’s Restaurant in Sebastian. …
“At the end of the auction, he offered himself up to bid for two dates,” Richardson said Friday. “He said he’d pick the women up in a luxury car. They bid several hundred dollars for the dates.”
— “Sheriff’s Office investigators find accused fraudster
told web of lies as he gained Vero Beach charity’s trust”
Lamaur Stancil, TCPalm.com, July 6, 2012
“I was surprised they made him president, but they said they were very impressed with him. He was established in the Young Republicans Club in the county. He showed them photos of himself with U.S. Rep. Allen West (who is running as a Republican candidate for Florida’s 18th District in Congress). Keeling seemed to know a lot about politics.”
— Sebastian Police Detective Todd Finnegan
“Haiti Clinic moves forward after lead fundraiser charged with theft in Vero Beach”
Lamaur Stancil, TCPalm.com, July 9, 2012
“He had created a fantasy world that was easily believable. He had the support of some very intelligent people. … What he’s done to the Haiti Clinic is what he has done with every group he has been involved with.”
— Leah Facto, 64-year-old treasurer of the North Indian River County Republican Club
“Keeling charged with grand theft after stealing from Indian River GOP club”
Lamaur Stancil, TCPalm.com, July 11, 2012
Facto … and a few other members repeatedly asked that the board find a way to see what was going on with the club’s money. The reaction was mixed because Keeling was so beloved.
In early January, Keeling’s attorney Gene O’Neill handed Facto a letter after a Republican club meeting that warned her to “cease and desist” lying about his client, who, according to the letter, was a fine young man about to go to medical school.
“Leah was the hero here, trying to do the right thing, but she was cast as the bad guy,” said Bob Flickinger, a Sebastian businessman and member of the North County Republican Club. …
“Keeling’s attorney suggested restitution as a possibility and we needed to consider it,” said [committee member David Nolte].
“We saw restitution as a possible solution because we wanted to minimize the debacle,” said [executive committee chairman Tom Lockwood]. …
“Things got unbelievably nasty,” said [Ted] Pankiewicz, a retired police officer. “Keeling supporters were making up awful things about us that had to do with cheating on spouses and lying and conspiring. But the truth is finally coming out, thank goodness.”
— “The meteoric rise and fall of 21-year-old phenom Dustinn Keeling”
Meg Laughlin, Vero Beach News, July 12, 2012
“I made at least three trips down there [to Haiti] with him. It was hard for us to believe that someone could see the need in person and do this. … It was troubling to learn that we weren’t his first victim.”
— Kathryn Johnston, Vero Beach attorney and Hait Clinic vice president of operations
“Haiti Clinic leaders determined not to let defrauding scheme touch those they help”
Lamaur Stancil, TCPalm.com, July 12, 2012
reading playing the part of a big shot:
• Photo of Keeling (wearing a “Jeff Pegler for School Board” T-shirt) with Senator Mike Haridopolis, Congressman Bill Posey, and State Committee Woman Elly Manov (“all celebrating at the recent Republican rally”), TCPalm, August 5, 2010
• Photo: “Good for You, Indian River County: Gerrit Klipstine, Sheriff Loar, Ed Dean, Alisa Artigas and Dustinn Keeling strategize about their golf diversion during a Sebastian Munical Golf Course,” FloridaNewsPress.org, September 18, 2011
• Photo of Keeling at a “Bridal Expo” with Tom Puskar, Jacaline Brandt and Adrianne Poteat, VeroNews.com, October 17, 2011
Suggested Bible reading for Young Master Keeling:
Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
— Isaiah 1:22-23
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