Brad Parscale, the Republican digital strategist recently demoted from his role as Donald Trump’s campaign manager, is in the hospital following what Florida authorities described as a report of a suicide attempt, CNN reported on Monday. Another report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel described the incident as involving a confrontation with his spouse.
Parscale—who depending on one’s view of such things is either a “digital wizard” or just some guy who figured out that Facebook’s advertising algorithm rewards the lowest common denominator—rose from digital media director on Trump’s 2016 campaign to top dog on Trump’s 2020 effort. Like Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort, and Kellyanne Conway, and his other predecessors in Trump’s inner circle, his role last long. Parscale was replaced as director by Bridgegate co-conspirator Bill Stepien after a disastrous rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma which saw humiliatingly low levels of attendance (perhaps in part due to the efforts of TikTok trolls) and probably contributed to a spike in coronavirus cases in the region. He now holds the title of senior campaign adviser.
Parscale has since rarely been seen on site at Trump campaign headquarters and had cleaned out his desk, CNN also reported. On Sunday, Fort Lauderdale police, including a SWAT team, responded to a call involving “an armed male attempting suicide” at Parscale’s residence.
“When officers arrived on scene, they made contact with the armed subject’s wife, who advised [that] her husband was armed and had access to multiple firearms inside the residence and was threatening to harm himself,” Fort Lauderdale Police Department Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw told CNN. She added that responding officers “...developed a rapport, and safely negotiated for [Parscale] to exit the home. The male was detained without injury and transported to Broward Health Medical Center for a Baker Act.”
The Sun Sentinel provided additional details about the incident, citing records released by Fort Lauderdale police. According to the paper, the standoff began during an argument between Parscale and his wife, Candice Parscale. She told authorities that she had fled the residence in fear for her life after Parscale chambered a round into a pistol; the 911 call was placed by a realtor who happened to be preparing to show another house nearby. Candice Parscale said she heard a noise resembling a gunshot but couldn’t be sure a weapon was actually fired.
Candice Parscale—who had bruising on her arm and face, according to Officer Timonthy Skaggs, from what she described as a previous altercation with her husband—told police that the Trump staffer drinks, “suffers from PTSD,” and owns a gun collection. In a phone call during the incident, Skaggs also reported that Brad Parscale sounded as though he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Officer Christopher Wilson, who described himself as a “personal friend,” was able to convince Brad Parscale out of the house. In police body cam footage—embedded below—he’s seen shirtless and drinking. Other FLPD officers tackle and arrest him shortly thereafter.
“Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him,” Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, told CNN. “We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible.”
Parscale correctly identified the way Facebook microtargeting works—rewarding emotionally engaging content such as Trump’s depraved ads with lower billing—as an inherent advantage on the social network in 2016. He used his time in the limelight to boost his own profile as a conservative celebrity, including inserting two shots of himself in Trump’s first 2020 TV ad, which cost nearly $143,000.
Earlier this year, campaign finance watchdog the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission accusing Trump’s 2016 campaign of “[disguising] nearly $170 million of campaign spending by laundering the funds through firms headed by Trump’s recent campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and/or created by Trump campaign lawyers.” The complaint alleged that Parscale helped the campaign evade reporting requirements and shield from public scrutiny which parties were being paid and how much—American Made Media Consultants, for example, a Parscale-founded company the campaign paid over $106 million. Parscale’s own firm, Parscale Strategies, was making an average of $100,905 a month between September 2019 and May 2020.
According to a CNN report in July, Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Trump advisers had become frustrated by media reports about how much Parscale was raking in from the campaign (and his flashy spending habits, such as a brand-new Ferrari).
In what could be unrelated news, British broadcaster Channel 4 teased a scoop on Monday regarding data leaked from Trump’s 2016 campaign that appeared to show a coordinated effort to suppress millions of Black votes. In a video on Twitter, the network showed glimpses of a database containing info on more than 200 million Americans which appeared to show 3.5 million Black voters tagged as “deterrence,” indicating the campaign had targeted them for negative ads.
If you or someone you know is having a crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.
Update: 3:40 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional details from the South Florida Sun Sentinel.