Friday, November 27, 2020


A headline at HuffPost reads:
Donor In Trump’s Election ‘Fraud’ Fight Sues To Snatch Back His $2.5 Million Contribution
But the contribution in dispute didn't go directly to Trump, or to an organization created by Trump affiliates. Here's the story:
A major contributor to a group backing President Donald Trump’s fight to overturn the presidential election sued to recover $2.5 million in donations after the campaign failed in several court cases and was unable to prove any fraud.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas by North Carolina venture capitalist Fred Eshelman argued that the nonprofit group True the Vote promised to keep him informed of how his millions were being used in what was pitched as a strong case against alleged election fraud. Instead, the suit alleged, he was fed “vague responses, platitudes and empty promises of follow-up” that never occurred.

He was kept in the dark when weak cases filed in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania were voluntarily withdrawn in a decision the investor claimed was made in “concert with counsel for the Trump campaign,” the suit said.
If the name "True the Vote" sounds familiar, it's because the group was one of several right-wing organizations that whined incessantly during Barack Obama's presidency about the IRS's reluctance to grant them tax-exempt status as non-political profits. These complaints led to sob stories even in the non-conservative media. This is from a 2013 McClatchy article:
Concerned about government regulation of her family’s manufacturing business, [Catherine Engelbrecht] became dissatisfied with the political process and particularly the 2008 presidential choices....

After witnessing what she called voter irregularities in the Houston area, Engelbrecht formed a group called True the Vote. With a paid staff of five, it aims to educate 1 million poll workers nationwide on spotting election fraud. Liberal groups view it as a conservative effort aimed at restricting minority participation, a claim that True the Vote officials deny.
Gosh, it's hard to imagine where liberal groups got the idea that True the Vote is "a conservative effort aimed at restricting minority participation"....
In 2010, before most reporters had heard of True the Vote, the group put out a video introducing itself. As epic battle music plays, far-right activist David Horowitz comes on screen. "The voting system is under attack now," he says. "Movements that are focused on voter fraud, on the integrity of elections are crucial. This is a war." ...

"The left has been focused on this now for decades," says Horowitz, as photographs of black voters lining up to cast ballots flash by. "Obama's very connected to ACORN, which is a voter-fraud machine. ACORN is the radical army." ...
A group trying to register voters in Houston received threats and emails containing racist slurs after being targeted by a local tea party group accusing it of “voter fraud.”

In emails obtained by TPM, the group Houston Votes was accused of being “a bunch of white guilt ridden assholes, NIGGERS and greasy mexican spics,” “fraudulent Marxist pigs,” and “American hating A-holes.”...

Houston Votes was targeted by the Texas Tea Party group King Street Patriots in their so-called anti-voter fraud effort “True The Vote.”
Engelbrecht referred to the Houston Votes office as the “New Black Panthers’ office.” A video put out by the group featured a doctored photo showing a Black woman holding a protest sign that read, "I ONLY GOT TO VOTE ONCE!"

The group's claims of non-partisanship are also laughable:
[The] 2010 video announcing True the Vote's launch begins with right-wing activist David Horowitz telling the camera that "Republicans have to win by at least three percent in order to win an election," since Democrats are likely to case fraudulent votes.

... in 2012, True the Vote contributed $5000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee.... This overtly political statement would legally, according to tax lawyers specializing in election law, disqualify a nonprofit from 501(c)3 tax-exempt status.

... True the Vote's website portrays voter fraud as largely a Democratic party problem. It routinely runs stories on election fraud being perpetrated by "liberals" or "Democrats" but has, to date, never run a story on Republican or Conservative instances of voter fraud.
And yet we were told that True the Vote was being persecuted by the IRS, and that Engelbrecht was a fine, upstanding American. Peggy Noonan -- who now regards Trump as extreme and dangerous -- lamented that Engelbrecht was "a nice woman, a citizen, an American" who was being pilloried for running a civic-minded organization that "tries to get dead people off the rolls."

The only difference between what Trump is doing now and what True the Vote has done for years is scale. Right-thinking citizens regard Trump's efforts as beyond the pale, but they were fine with the activities of True the Vote and similar organizations when most Americans weren't paying attention.

If right-wingers as well as left-wingers had denounced electoral-fraud witch hunts over the past decade, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today. But they backed those efforts then. So here we are now.

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