Anti-Trump Self-Funder Challenging Jim Banks Was a Longtime Democrat Voter, Hails from Egg Empire Tied to Cold Case Victims

John Rust Jim Banks
JohnRust_IN/Twitter, Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

John Rust, a businessman who has launched a Republican Senate campaign in Indiana to challenge Trump-endorsed Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), was long a Democrat voter before voting on a Republican ballot several years ago.

Rust, who sources say plans to self-fund his campaign, is the heir to Rose Acre Farms — a Hoosier State egg empire — which saw two of its employees murdered in the 1970s and ’80s, and the cases remain unsolved. He officially filed his paperwork on July 1, the Indiana Capital Chronicle reported.

Voting records obtained by Breitbart News show that Rust was a Democrat during at least the tail end of the George W. Bush administration through the majority of former President Barack Obama’s years as commander-in-chief. 

He voted in Democrat primaries in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012, Indiana Statewide Voter Registration System records show. It is unclear what party, if any, Rust was affiliated with between 1997 and 2004, though he did vote in Republican primaries in 1996 and 2016, according to the records. 

What is more, in order to qualify as a candidate of a party, one must have voted on that party’s ballot in the last two primaries he or she voted in or be certified as a party member by his or her county chair, states Code 3-8-2-7 of the Indiana Candidate Guide. As Rust, 55, has not voted consecutively in GOP primaries, he needs the signature of his county’s GOP chair.

“Failure to attach the chair’s certification does not result in the filing being rejected, but it may be challenged by a voter of the precinct or a county chair,” the code states.

The Seymour, Indiana, address listed on Rust’s voting registration is a property owned by his mother, Lois Rust, according to country records; though records also show he owns property nearby. The address on his voter registration turns up “Rose Acre” when plugged into Google Maps, rather than what looks to be his personal residence, situated not far from the address on his registration.

Rust — who is aligned with the Gays Against Groomers movement, according to his Twitter activity — has signaled he does not support former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination. 

In April, Ken Cuccinelli, the founder of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) Never Back Down Super PAC, tweeted a screenshot of internal polling from Public Opinion Strategies showing DeSantis faring better against President Joe Biden than Trump in Arizona and Pennsylvania.  

Rust responded to the tweet, “We don’t need a repeat of 2020.”

Rust serves as the chairman of Rose Acre Farms, the second largest egg producer in the country, accounting for roughly seven percent of the nation’s market share, as CNBC reported. The company is family-owned and founded, and John’s late father, David Rust, grew the business from its early stages in the 1940s into a formidable egg producer. 

However, the family hit turmoil in 1989, a Seymour Tribune article from the time noted. In February of that year, company shareholders ousted David Rust as president, and his ex-wife, Lois, became his successor, according to the outlet. In August 1989, Lois filed a motion for a restraining order against her husband, alleging he was disrupting employees, while David filed a petition against John, alleging he “physically abused and battered him on various occasions,” the Jackson County Banner reported at the time. David was granted a temporary restraining order against then-22-year-old John.

Looking deeper into Rose Acre Farms, archived newspaper clippings show two of its employees were murdered between 1973 and 1983 when John was just a child between the ages of 6 and 16. Another employee in that time frame died in a fiery truck wreck; some were reportedly doubtful it was an accident.

On Saturday, the Seymour Tribune published an article that brought attention to a more than 50-year-old cold case murder of an 18-year-old Rose Acre Farms secretary, Theresa Osborne. Osborne was one of two secretaries who worked for the company who was murdered after leaving company premises on the day of a work meeting, an Indianapolis Star article states. 

Osborne worked in the secretarial pool at Rose Acre, and her family said she was typically responsible for producing a weekly report and bringing it to a print service, according to the article. She left the facility, which the Tribune reports was in Cortland, on an August afternoon in 1973 to bring cake and ice cream back from Seymour for a meeting. While she retrieved the cake and ice cream, she never returned to Rose Acre, and her family reported her missing the following morning. 

More than a week later, she was found in Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, burned in the trunk of her car, and the case is unsolved to this day. Two employees were tabbed as suspects, with one passing a polygraph and the other refusing an interview, per the Star.

When speaking with the Star 17 years after the murder in 1991, the Osborne family claimed that Rose Acre did not call to check on Theresa’s whereabouts when she failed to return. The family also alleged that David Rust had attempted to sway her to forgo college at Ball State, where she was set to attend in the weeks ahead, and stay at the farm with an offer of $200 weekly. According to police, he had told her he would hire her back for a career after she earned a degree. 

The Star reports her family stating she had never been asked to run an errand like that before. 

Just over ten years after the Osborne murder, another secretary, Carrie Croucher, was murdered after leaving Seymour, where she attended a Rose Acre meeting, per the Star. Croucher’s husband, David, said he was drifting into sleep when he heard her car arrive home on the November 1983 night. When she failed to come inside, he allegedly checked outside, but she was gone. His father located her beneath some trees after David enlisted his folks for the search, and her cause of death was determined as strangulation.

While Croucher, who cleared polygraph tests four times, was tried for his wife’s murder, a jury returned a not-guilty verdict after just 90 minutes, and officials have said off the record that the case against him should not have been pursued, according to the Star. 

His defense pointed to commonalities surrounding Osborne’s death and claimed that “Carrie had discovered…. some discrepancies in the records kept on backhauls” at Rose Acre and allegedly indicated to her husband days before her murder that she was worried about “cash shortfalls.” 

Police stated Rose Acre fully cooperated and allowed them to review financial records, which did not lead to the discovery of any irregularities.

The mother of a third deceased Rose Acre employee believes the cause of her son’s death was not an accident, as police have concluded, per the Star. In 1977, Mike Reece’s burned body was discovered in his truck that crashed into a tree, but though the cab burned, the gas tank behind it never ignited, according to the Star. 

He had worked for Rose Acre Farms since he was a sophomore in high school, and by the time he was 18, David Rust was contacting him “at all hours,” and Reece would “take off,” his mother Opal Hardesty told the Star. When Reece died at the age of 20, he was amid legal trouble, facing three lawsuits from separate banks after checks failed to clear when he purchased property, the truck he died in, and a tractor. 

While David Rust was dealing with a zoning conflict ahead of Reece’s legal woes, he promised to pay whichever employee posted the most signs pushing their case in the zoning battle, Reece’s attorney Dan Patterson said, per the Star. While Reece posted the most signs, he told Patterson that Rust did not immediately give him the funds but directed him to establish a savings account and that he would deposit cash. 

It was then he made the three big purchases, and the checks bounced, according to his attorney. His mother also said he had tipped police weeks before about some Rose Acre Farms employees being involved with drugs. The Indiana State Police confirmed that he had made the allegation, but nothing came of it, per the Star. Then-Indiana State Police Sgt. Jim Blevins said two investigations did not yield signs of foul play in his death.

The Indianapolis Star article does not indicate that David Rust, or any family member, was tabbed as a suspect in any of the cases.

Breitbart News attempted to contact John Rust and his consultant about all aspects of this story, but neither responded to Breitbart News’s voicemails after multiple hours nor did they return follow-up texts.

Rust will compete with Banks, the race’s frontrunner for the Republican nomination, as Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) vacates his seat for a gubernatorial bid. When Rust was speaking privately about entering the fray last month, prominent MAGA figures like Donald Trump Jr., Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk quickly doubled down on their support of Banks.


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