In a blistering Saturday article titled “Stolen Valor: The U.S. Volunteers in Ukraine Who Lie, Waste and Bicker,” The New York Times outed many of the high-profile Americans who became the face of the Ukrainian Foreign Legion as they chased internet clout and preyed on their fellow Americans just looking to help. One of the people at the center of the scandal was MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance, someone the network championed but has been “enmeshed in the chaos” of a “distracting power struggle.”
According to Times reporters Justin Scheck and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “The Washington-based Counter Extremism Project wrote in March that the Legion and affiliated groups ‘continue to feature individuals widely seen as unfit to perform their duties.’” The first name given after that sentence was that of Malcolm Nance.
“Malcolm Nance, a former Navy cryptologist and MSNBC commentator, arrived in Ukraine last year and made a plan to bring order and discipline to the Legion. Instead, he became enmeshed in the chaos,” they reported.
The picture The Times painted was of a man who brought his experience of slinging mud on cable news to a war zone. “Today, Mr. Nance is involved in a messy, distracting power struggle. Often, that plays out on Twitter, where Mr. Nance taunted one former ally as ‘fat and an associate of ‘a verified con artist,’” they noted. That tweet can be viewed here.
Accusations like that you’re a fat assed washed up, fired, drunk IT guy who wears a home made Flava-Flav sized “accredited journalist” badge, a laughing stock at media hubs, who works closely w/a verified con artist, & then steals donations to the Army using my name @ IG & FB? OK pic.twitter.com/Z4gCTAYp2l— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) March 20, 2023
He even used MSNBC’s standard operating procedure of accusing people of being Russian spies without a shred of evidence:
He accused a pro-Ukraine fund-raising group of fraud, providing no evidence. After arguing with two Legion administrators, Mr. Nance wrote a “counterintelligence” report trying to get them fired. Central to that report is an accusation that one Legion official, Emese Abigail Fayk, fraudulently tried to buy a house on an Australian reality TV show with money she didn’t have. He labeled her “a potential Russian spy,” offering no evidence. Ms. Fayk denied the accusations and remains with the Legion.
Mr. Nance said that as a member of the Legion with an intelligence background, when he developed concerns, he “felt an obligation to report this to Ukrainian counterintelligence.”
Nance has also apparently climbed into financial bed with a man named Ben Lackey, who has falsified his military experience and has only been a waiter a LongHorn Steakhouse. Together, they’re trying to raise money to support Ukrainian fighters:
Mr. Nance has left Ukraine but continues fund-raising with a new group of allies. One of them, Ben Lackey, is a former Legion member. He told his fellow volunteers that he was once a Marine and wrote on LinkedIn that he had most recently been an assistant manager at LongHorn Steakhouse. In fact, the Pentagon said he had no military experience (and he worked as a server, the steakhouse said).
In an interview, Mr. Lackey said that he had lied about being a U.S. Marine so he could join the Legion.
The Times also tears into one of Nance’s more well-known associates, James Vasquez and the dubious charity Ripley’s Heroes.
Scheck and Gibbons-Neff unravel a scheme where Ripley’s Heroes founder, former Marine Lt. Col. Hunter Ripley Rawlings IV was allegedly using funds from the charity to pay for “his private venture” called Iron Forge and pay for military equipment with a shady paper trail.
As for Vasquez, The Times checked in with the Pentagon and reports that he has lied about being deployed to “Kuwait, Iraq or anywhere else” and did not leave the Army Reserve as a sergeant, “but as a private first class, one of the Army’s lowest ranks.” Vasquez admitted to the deception to the paper.
In a tweet back in October, Nance praised their work: “THANKS to @RipleysHeroes & @jmvasquez1974 for donating 20 modern Polish army helmets to the 3rd Battalion International Legion Team Commando. They went into combat within 24 hours of the donation! Rip delivers!”
THANKS to @RipleysHeroes & @jmvasquez1974 for donating 20 modern Polish army helmets to the 3rd Battalion International Legion Team Commando. They went into combat within 24 hours of the donation! Rip delivers! pic.twitter.com/4cYTKcfiCW— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) October 26, 2022