If you were binge-watching Mad Men this weekend, you might not have been the only one. On Monday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump filed his latest campaign finance report, which revealed some shocking information about his political operation. Not only is the organization nearly broke, but Trump's campaign claims to have hired Draper Sterling, a web advertising firm with a name that'll make every Mad Men fan do a double take.
According to Trump's campaign finance report, his campaign reportedly paid Draper Sterling $35,000 for online advertising in April. Not getting the joke? The agency's name seems to refer to two of the main characters on Mad Men — Don Draper and Richard Sterling. Draper and Sterling are top executives at a Manhattan advertising agency in the 1960s. They live the kind of lives you'd almost expect Trump to be affiliated with, though they're only fictional characters in a widely popular TV show.
Here's the thing: This would probably be nothing more than humorous if there actually were an advertising agency called Draper Sterling. However, the circumstances of that are not entirely clear.
Journalists have worked since Trump's filing to find out the true story behind Draper Sterling. Here's some of what we know so far: it actually is a legal, registered business in the state of New Hampshire. It exists as a foreign limited liability company, registered to one Jon Adkins in the town of Londonderry. According to New Hampshire's records, the company was created in March in Delaware. As of Tuesday, the business was listed as in "good standing" with New Hampshire's secretary of state's office. Bustle has reached out to Adkins for comment, but has not heard back as of this time.
Adkins, according to the same office, has registered three businesses in the state of New Hampshire: Draper Sterling, Grace's Grantham Cafe, and White Mountain Designs. White Mountain Designs and Draper Sterling are listed with the same address, and were apparently created within three days of each other. The cafe was created in April and has an address located about an hour and some change northwest of Adkins' other two businesses.
Out of the three businesses registered to Adkins, Grace's Grantham Cafe appears to be the only one with a website or a social media presence. The website provides little information, but calls the cafe a "full-service coffee shop." There is a location listed, but no phone number. On Facebook, the cafe appears to have delayed its grand opening as it waits for a final inspection.
A registration form for Draper Sterling, published by AdAge, lists a phone number and email address for Adkins. From a quick Google search, the phone number also appears to be affiliated with a company called Xenotherapeutics. According to the Massachusetts secretary of state's website, Xenotherapeutics could refer to either a foreign limited liability corporation, like Adkins' three businesses, or a nonprofit organization (or, more likely, to both). The record for the nonprofit corporation lists Adkins as a director. On this form, Adkins' address is listed as none other than the one used for both White Mountain Designs and Draper Sterling.
The nonprofit's website lists a bio for Adkins, calling him a vice president, founder, and director of business development. According to that bio, Adkins has more than 15 years of experience in medical sales and administration. He has an M.B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University.
To recap: The Trump campaign reportedly paid thousands of dollars for the web advertising services of a firm called Draper Sterling. That firm appears to be website-less, which seems peculiar for an agency which offers online advertising services, and is registered to a man with the surname Adkins. What's more, the business appears to be run out of a residential home which Adkins owns.
Slate sent a reporter to the address listed for Adkins and Draper Sterling. Indeed, the building was a residential house. At the house, Slate spoke with Adkins' mother-in-law, who wasn't able to describe his business. She did suggest that he is involved in politics.
Plenty of people work out of their homes, so it's not entirely unusual for a business to have the same address as its proprietor's home. Additionally, although Adkins apparently does work with both Draper Sterling and Xenotherapeutics, the addresses for those businesses are only about 45 minutes apart. It's entirely possible that he works out of his home some days and in Boston on other days.
What remains unclear is what Draper Sterling actually does and how the company spent its $35,000 from the Trump campaign. Whether there's a simple explanation or not, Trump now has another issue on his hands — and Mad Men fans might not be quick to let this one go.