‘Dark Money’ funds 2020 election challenge – and could challenge 2024

President Biden was sworn in more than six months ago, but officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, are still looking for evidence that Biden’s victory in their state was based on massive voter fraud – even after multiple audits did not reveal any problems.

New Yorker Writer Jane Mayer says Arizona’s audit is an unprecedented undertaking, with potentially explosive consequences for American democracy.

Mayer notes that while the audit appears to be the work of local extremists, it is actually funded by sophisticated national organizations whose boards of directors include some of the wealthiest and most prominent conservatives in the country.

“The 2020 election has long been over in most people’s minds and is settled and decided,” Mayer said. “But these groups are doubling the money they invest and the effort they put into trying to push forward the idea of ​​fraud – potentially to challenge the 2022 midterms and the 2024 elections.”

Mayer writes about what she calls “the black money” behind the challenges of Biden’s victory in her latest article, “The Big Money Behind the Big Lie”. She says a well-funded national movement has exploited Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud to promote changes in the way ballots are cast and counted in 49 states. And, she adds, 18 states have already passed new election laws in the past six months, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Mayer notes that while some of the challenges come from extremist groups, established conservative organizations – including the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council – are also getting involved.

“Organizations that we have come to see as pillars of the conservative movement… [are] throwing their efforts behind a very anti-democratic movement here that even frightens some Republican election officials and also frightens electoral law experts, “she said.” They’re really getting into this Trump lie. “

Interview highlights

On the audit of the 2020 elections in Maricopa County, Arizona, which is still ongoing

I think some of the people doing this check, you have to understand, are die-hard conspiracy theorists. And they’re trying to prove that Trump really won. And Maricopa County is not like any old little county in America. It’s the largest county in Arizona, and it’s the majority of the votes for Arizona – it’s 2.1 million votes. So if they could move 10,000 votes and say 10,000 were fraudulent, maybe they could say Trump won. I think more likely… they’re setting the stage for contesting the US election in the future, and the one there in 2020. They’re spreading mistrust.

On the push to allow state legislatures to select voters

Since the 19th century, states have allowed popular vote to determine which voters were elected, and then to vote and choose the president. It is an indirect form of direct democracy. What we are talking about now and experiencing in Arizona is the idea that the state legislatures themselves would choose the voters. …

Now, this is a radical doctrine, but it is promoted by right-wing lawyers and nonprofit groups that are heavily funded by the right. And this is really experienced in Arizona, where there was a bill that was a proposed bill to do just that – to allow the Arizona state legislature to overturn a presidential election and decide itself where voters should vote and for whom.

On the state of the legislation on the right to vote

In 18 states now, legislation has been passed that clamps down on the right to vote in various ways. So there has certainly been an effort to limit things like postal voting and same day voting and make registration more difficult. Bills have been introduced in 49 states. So I think you’ll see another wave of this kind of legislation. And you can also see more of this argument being made – that is, this kind of radical independent legislature doctrine argument that is advanced by legal organizations on the right that hold that legislatures have the right to intercede and even cancel the popular vote if there is something wrong with the election, if they can claim that there was fraud.

Discovering the source of audit in Arizona

I went to Arizona to take a look at this check, and found that it doesn’t take place in a vacuum. And it’s actually not just Arizona’s business. It is funded by interests outside the state, people with deep pockets who are allies of Donald Trump – this is precisely the audit – and it takes place against the backdrop of this widespread belief that voter fraud is currency. current in America and that elections can be trusted. And this is broadcast by national groups, some of which are quite well known and established in Republican circles. And so I continued to peel the onion to try to figure out, where did that come from? And the picture began to clarify that in fact there is a flow of money and a lot of it comes from one huge foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which funds all these other groups that make put forward the idea that electoral fraud is a serious problem. problem in America and that we cannot trust our elections. And that huge foundation is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Bradley family – those two brothers who founded this company, the Allen-Bradley Company – they defined the far-right fringe. They were staunch anti-Communist fanatics who feared the government of the United States would be run by Communists. And they were politically marginal figures, but they were extraordinarily wealthy at the time of their deaths. And their fortune financed this far-right foundation.

On Cleta Mitchell, who is a board member of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

People may not know Cleta Mitchell’s name, or they may not have known until reports emerged earlier this year that there was a lawyer on the call with Trump – this was a conference call with election officials in Georgia. And Trump was basically berating them, saying, I just need to get 11,780 more votes because that will win me over in Georgia. You just have to find the votes. And it looked like they were just trying to overturn the elections in Georgia.

And on that call, there was a lawyer named Cleta Mitchell. And it turns out that Cleta Mitchell is fundamental to this movement to claim that electoral fraud is rampant in America and that Georgia’s election was a fraud and that Trump really won it. And she’s been deeply involved in these matters, at least since 2012. And she’s a member of the board of trustees of the Bradley Foundation, where they have $ 850 million in their treasury to spend on all kinds of issues, including this one. -this.

On Public Interest Legal Foundation, also founded by the Bradley Foundation. Cleta Mitchell is its president.

This group is based in Indiana, and it advocates across the country, accusing people and election officials of voter fraud. If you look at it closely, what you can see is that there is only a short jump between the voter fraud charge and the argument that an election should be overturned. And this is where it gets really radical. Among the trustees of the Public Interest Legal Foundation is, for example, a lawyer by the name of John Eastman who was one of the speakers at the Trump rally on January 6. And at that rally, he argued that people should challenge the election results and stop voting certification on January 6. As we all know, it preceded by a few hours the mob charging the capital, trashing it and trying to stop the certification. So you can see the connections between a huge foundation on the right, the Bradley Foundation, which funds the Public Interest Legal Foundation, whose director spoke at the January 6 rally and tried to overturn that election or at least the ‘stop, to stop it at this time. And the money flows from one to the other, and the same characters are involved.

Sam Briger and Thea Chaloner produced and edited the audio for this interview. Bridget Bentz, Seth Kelley and Dana Farrington adapted it for the web.

Correction: August 5, 2021 12:00 AM –An earlier version of this piece misspelled the Allen-Bradley Company as the Alan Bradley Company.

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