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Trump groups had little money left as they tried to influence the election

by SuperiorInvest

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Winthrop Coliseum ahead of the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, United States, on February 23, 2024.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Several groups founded by allies of former President Donald Trump to combat alleged “voter fraud” now have little money or results to show for their efforts.

Trump's false claims that he lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden only as a result of widespread voter fraud and other irregularities were the impetus for the creation of those nonprofit groups and political action committees.

But a glaring problem for those groups has been the fact that federal and state officials have repeatedly debunked Trump's fraud claims.

Another problem that doomed some of the groups was their failure to get fundraising help from Trump, the de facto leader of the Republican Party, who remains the main promoter of false claims of widespread voter fraud in the United States.

New tax and campaign finance records reviewed by CNBC reveal that pursuing “election integrity” has not paid off for several groups in Trump's orbit.

And in some cases, the groups' stated missions in their public tax returns were opaque when they launched.

Other records raise questions about what the funds were used for at various entities.

Parscale's voter fraud ring collapses

One notable disappearance from the field of election integrity efforts has been American Greatness, a network of pro-Trump groups founded by former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.

Parscale announced in 2021 that he was launching a nonprofit, PAC, and side group called the “Election Integrity Alliance” under the American Greatness umbrella.

He told the news site Axios at the time that American Greatness would “provide transparent data research and visualization, which will offer an accurate, state-by-state aggregation of all necessary, ongoing and completed efforts toward voting integrity.”

Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale addresses the crowd before US President Donald Trump meets with supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, United States, on August 15, 2019.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Likewise, the mission of the Alliance for Electoral Integrity was to end electoral fraud.

Today, American greatness has largely collapsed.

It is also unclear whether he ever achieved any of his stated goals.

Parscale, who no longer leads the organization, and the other two former board members did not respond to requests for comment.

But a person familiar with the group, who was granted anonymity to discuss private conversations, said it never provided transparent data research and visualization to help with voting-related issues, despite Parscale's promise to do so.

The nonprofit headed into 2023 with only about $195,000 on hand. A year earlier, he raised $550,000 and spent all but about $50,000 of that amount, tax records show.

Last year, American Greatness changed its name to the Jefferson Rising Fund and was taken over by former Trump campaign aide Katrina Pierson.

Pierson, who is now running for the Texas state House of Representatives, told CNBC that he has since “left the organization shortly after its formation” and “does not know who is on the board or their current activities.”

Republican political consultant Katrina Pierson arrives at Trump Tower on December 14, 2016 in New York City. This is the first major meeting between President-elect Trump and tech industry leaders.

Drawn angry | fake images

Recent disclosure reports show that the nonprofit American Greatness, since changing its name to the Jefferson Rising Fund, hired a lobbyist to take on Biden policies affecting the oil and gas industry.

The affiliated PAC hasn't fared much better than its nonprofit sister organization.

The PAC entered 2024 with about $123,000 on hand. And it raised just $176 for all of 2023, records show.

The PAC spent much of the $550,000 it received from oil and gas magnate Tim Dunn during the 2022 election cycle on a variety of consultants, records show.

Dunn and the Jefferson Rising Fund did not respond to a request for comment.

No money was spent supporting pro-Trump candidates, even though the PAC's then-chairman, Jim Renacci, a former congressman from Ohio, said two years ago that was part of the group's plans, records show.

But the PAC's payments to consultants last year included $80,000 to Pierson's firm PCG and another payment of $80,000 to KF6 Partners, a firm based in Israel.

The power of Trump's favor

Unlike the American Greatness PAC and nonprofit, the Election Integrity Alliance launched with a board made up of well-known figures in Trump's orbit. Several of those people played key roles in Trump's failed effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik were listed on the website as members of the alliance's 2021 national board.

“The Alliance for Election Integrity will unite groups and efforts across the country focused on combating voter fraud,” trumpeted the group's now-defunct website in 2021.

“Election Integrity Alliance will be a centralized hub providing tools to implement meaningful changes for the American people.”

The website also had links to a “scorecard” page, where the group said it would “evaluate the integrity of the elections in key states.”

But to carry out its grand plans, the Alliance for Electoral Integrity sought to secure an elusive prize: Trump's personal endorsement.

In the summer of 2021, several board members traveled to New York to meet with Trump in his Trump Tower office. They asked the former president to designate his group as the official center for Trump allies' election integrity work, according to a source granted anonymity to discuss private conversations.

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But Trump never publicly designated the Alliance for Election Integrity as the standard bearer for the MAGA universe's election integrity efforts.

Instead, a few months after the Trump Tower meeting, the former president took the stage at his private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, in November 2021 and applauded another Trump-allied nonprofit, the America First Policy Institute.

This group was led by other longtime Trump insiders, including former Small Business Administration chairwoman Linda McMahon, former White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, and former West Wing aide Brooke Rollins. .

Trump's blessing for AFPI that November night in Palm Beach elevated it above a host of other groups founded by Trump alumni, including American Greatness, and launched it into a fundraising juggernaut.

The year after Trump endorsed it, AFPI raised $22 million, nearly $9 million more than it had raised the year before, according to IRS records reviewed by CNBC.

AFPI also launched an election integrity effort, the Center for Election Integrity, and staffed it with former Trump White House press aide Hogan Gidley and conservative author Ken Blackwell.

It even released its own color-coded election integrity scoring map, which looks strikingly similar to the one the Alliance for Election Integrity had created for its now-deleted website.

A source close to the Election Integrity Alliance said that during its short life, the group had helped organize calls with other Trump-allied groups working on election issues with a conservative bent, including AFPI and the Heritage Foundation.

Cleta Mitchell group runs out of cash

Another election integrity group is led by Trump-allied conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who had worked with Trump to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election when she participated in a phone call involving the then-president and Secretary of State. Georgia State, Brad Raffensperger.

He later founded the Electoral Integrity Network, which has been working to influence future elections.

Last April, Mitchell spoke at a Republican donor conference, where he said conservatives needed to work together to limit voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters, according to a PowerPoint presentation obtained by The Washington. Mail.

But the group's tax records, provided to CNBC by Dave Armiak, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy, show that Mitchell's group entered 2023 with very little money left that could be used for those goals.

Election Integrity Network raised just over $753,000 and spent about $746,000 in 2022, leaving the organization with up to $24,298 in assets heading into 2023.

Nearly 70% of its funding in 2022 came from the Conservative Partnership Institute, a nonprofit group led in part by Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, according to CPI tax records from that year.

Entering 2023, Mitchell's group had only $6,200 in net assets that could be used without restrictions.

Mitchell declined to comment.

Another organization founded by Russell Vought, Trump's former Office of Management and Budget director, had a section dedicated to “election integrity” on its website.

But Vought's group has not posted anything related to the election since September 2022.

Correction: Linda McMahon was administrator of the Small Business Administration. An earlier version misstated her title.

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