Everett Stern, the founder and CEO of a private intelligence agency who came to prominence as a whistleblower, announced his candidacy for Sen. Pat Toomey’s soon-to-be-vacant seat on Feb. 15.
Stern is running “to make a significant, positive difference, fight corruption and to clean house,” he said. “I’m seeing these other people I’m running against, and they’re simply disgusting.”
Stern, 36, understands that he’s an outsider candidate, and that any electoral success for him would be “a stunner.” His last campaign for Senate, in 2016, was as a write-in candidate, and ended without making much noise.
The Pennsylvania Republican Party is opposed to his candidacy and his insistence on attacking his primary opponents, according to Stern — “they aren’t interested in seeing the sparks fly like this,” he said. His positions on the regulation of financial institutions buck party orthodoxy, and though he voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election, he supported Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy.
The PA GOP did not respond to several requests for comment.
Stern promises to be a relentless campaigner, and is animated by a sense of duty and belief in God that he said has shepherded him through difficult journeys before. He’s betting that those same forces will win out again.
“When people hear me and they hear me speak, they’re going to hear my sincerity, they’re going to hear that I am the real deal,” he said.
Stern was 25 in 2010 when he took a job with HSBC, a major multinational bank. Stern was added to the bank’s recently expanded anti-money laundering program as a compliance officer and was based in New Castle, Delaware.
What Stern found during the year-plus that he worked at HSBC was fraud and malfeasance on a massive scale. Stern discovered that suspicious transactions weren’t being properly investigated and, when he tried to bring it up to his superiors, he was discouraged from pursuing his findings. According to an article in Rolling Stone, Stern uncovered transactions that were tied to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and began to pass along information to the CIA and FBI, who initiated their own investigations.
Though Stern left the company in 2011, those federal agencies were among several that continued to investigate widespread misconduct at HSBC, Rolling Stone reported. According to The New York Times, HSBC was suspected to have laundered money for Mexican drug cartels and Saudi banks with ties to terrorists, and to have transferred money through its American subsidiary to countries under sanction by the U.S., like Iran, Sudan and North Korea. Eventually, HSBC was required to pay a $1.92 billion fine and further improve its anti-money laundering practices in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement.
Stern said his experience at HSBC shaped his life personally, professionally and spiritually, and was the subject of congressional reports, magazine articles and an episode of the Netflix television series “Dirty Money.” It was part of the process of his becoming a “hardened fighter,” he said, and set him on a path that he intends to keep walking. Running his intelligence agency, Tactical Rabbit, has made Stern a professional whistleblower, by his understanding. He hopes to bring that same nose for corruption and sense of justice to the Senate.
Regarding Trump, Stern understands that the former president remains a major force in the Republican Party, but hopes to use conservative values as his “North Star,” rather than any single person. Though he believed in the policies of the Trump administration, Stern said, he found the man’s behavior “atrocious.”
“When people think ‘conservative,’ they think Jan. 6. They don’t think what I’m talking about,” Stern said, referring to the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Trump. The U.S. “is really broken. The Republican Party is destroyed right now. And I am here to unify it.”
Stern, the son of a Department of Veterans Affairs doctor and a social worker, was born in New York City and raised in Florida. He is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University and earned an MBA from Stetson University. In addition to Tactical Rabbit, Stern also runs Rabbit Alpha, a hedge fund, and Rabbit Capital Management. He lives in West Chester and attends Chabad Lubavitch of Chester County.