The owner of a health investment firm is suing to try to force the return of a $2.5 million in contributions he made to ‘True the Vote’ – an ‘election integrity’ group that tried to raise $7 million after the November election with promises to fight faud.
The donor, Fred Eshelman of health investment firm Eshelman Ventures. says the group didn’t deliver on its promises as it pursued a series of allegations that failed to pan out.
The nonprofit group filed post-election lawsuits in four states where President Donald Trump was seeking to overturn the election results then withdrew them.
Eshelman pledged an initial $2 million during a phone call just a day after he saw Donald Trump’s apparent election night lead evaporate, according to the Washington Post.
Fred Eshelman pledged an initial $2 million to ‘True the Vote’ during a phone call just a day after he saw Donald Trump’s apparent election night lead evaporate
He made the commitment in a direct call to the group’s president, Catherine Engelbrecht, appeared on Fox News the day before two Georgia runoff elections to tout its efforts to get ‘citizen challenges’ to people who tried to vote.
The North Carolina donor has previously given millions to Republican causes.
Democrat Stacey Abrams herself sued the group and accused it of trying to suppress the vote of 364,000 Georgians.
Eshelman sued in federal and state court. According to his lawsuit, ‘Defendants were not accomplishing much beyond spending Eshelman’s money. They voluntarily dismissed four cookie-cutter lawsuits mere days after filing—at the incredible cost of more than $350,000 in legal fees.
The suit was referring to four separate suits True the Vote filed in four states following the elections, only to voluntarily dismiss them days later.
The group’s lawyer, James Bopp, told the Washington Post Eshelman did not place conditions on his donation, and that he isn’t entitled to its return.
‘We were just not getting any data or proof,’ Eshelman representative Tom Crawford told the paper. ‘We were looking at this and saying to ourselves, “This just is not adding up.”‘
The group is a non-profit, although its ‘election integrity’ effort in Georgia aligned with the state Republican Party during two Senate runoff elections.
The group’s president, Catherine Engelbrecht, testified at a hearing on alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups during the Obama Administration. She also appeared on Fox News the day before the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff elections, which came the day before the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in Washington, DC
President Donald Trump and the Republican Party raised more than $250 million after the elections with claims of election fraud, but didn’t spend $175 million of it
A MAGA mob ransacked the Capitol following a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in Washington, DC
Eshelman said of is initial suspicions: ‘I thought about the range of possibilities around vote fraud. There was already noise around cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Philadelphia. I wanted to determine if this was legit. Can we find a real smoking gun?’
Trump pointed to those cities in his own post-election rhetoric. All are located in states he lost to Joe Biden.
The suit over the group’s election efforts is just one piece of a huge nationwide fundraising effort that took place after the elections where President Trump claimed ‘massive fraud.’
Trump and the Republican Party raised more than $250 million through their efforts.
Trump and the GOP didn’t spend most of it on their own election fight, saving about $175 million, according to the New York Times.
At one point, Bobb said he briefed Trump’s legal team on the group’s own effort to try to use federal suits to open up voter rules, saying Trump’s own legal efforts were a ‘disaster.
He said he briefed Bopp briefed Trump allies including Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Fox News host Sean Hannity. He said Sekulow and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani backed the proposal.
When he didn’t hear back from Trump, he decided to drop the four suits, Bopp told the paper.
The led to Eshelman demanding his money back in an email, then filing suit alleging the group hadn’t properly accounted for its election efforts.
The group’s $7.3 million fundraising proposal, which is an exhibit in Eshelman’s lawsuit, claims it will seek to expose a ‘flood’ of illegal votes being cast.