‘Big Lies’ Candidates for State Racing Secretary attracted Black Money

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According to the report’s findings overall and based on the most recent reports, candidates in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and Wisconsin have so far raised $16.3 million, more than twice as much as they did at this point in 2018. As stated in the report:

While candidates who have fought back against Trump’s “Big Lie” have raised more money overall, the trend of campaign donations from ordinary in-state contributors, super PACs, or shady out-of-state donors going to far-right Republicans who are endorsing Trump’s 2020 conspiracy theory has surged.

Beyond donations straight to candidate campaigns, the Brennan Center found “at least $8.8 million in outside spend­ing from super PACs and dark money groups target­ing secret­ary of state races, with $5.6 million in Arizona alone.”

According to Vandewalker and Kornberg, “prominent election sceptics have attracted big donations—often the legal maximum—from contributors who are engaged in numerous jurisdictions.” “Several prominent funders, such as former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, CEO of construction software Michael Rydin, and pack­ing materials billionaire Richard Uihlein, have connections to the January 6 uprising and other challenges to the outcome of the 2020 election. Before this election, the majority of the contributors we identified had not contributed to secretaries of state candidates.”

Story Highlights

  • In six states that will hold secretary of state elections in 2022, according to a new research by Ian Vandewalker and Maya Kornberg for the Brennan Center for Justice, “fundrais­ing by candid­ates contin­ues to outperform prior elec­tions.”

  • Twelve candidates for election denial have raised $7.3 million between the six states. That is less than the $8.1 million raised collectively by the 10 candidates who have come out against election denial, the majority of which was donated by independents who naturally have an advantage in fundraising. The six remaining opponents of election denial have collectively raised $4 million without incurring any expenses.

In Arizona, where the primary is being held Tuesday, state GOP lawmaker Mark Finchem—who was present in Washington, D.C. at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol Building—is considered the Republican frontrunner and has been receiving support from the former president’s wealthy allies. Trump has personally endorsed Finchem, who once belonged to the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers.

Speaking to local ABC 15 in Arizona, Brendan Glavin, a senior data analyst at the campaign watchdog group OpenSecrets.org, said Trump’s effort to discredit the election after losing in 2020 has had dramatic repercussions for secretary of state races.

“People have sort of awoken to the importance of this state-level position, so now, national interests are on both sides want to have control in this area,” Glavin said. If Finchem was to secure the GOP nomination Tueday and then win against a Democratic rival in November, an individual who was present on Jan. 6 and who continues to deny that President Joe Biden won would be in charge of controlling Arizona’s election process in 2024. As the New York Times reports Monday:

Mr. Finchem is the candidate of a Trump-backed America First coalition of more than a dozen 2020 election deniers who have sought once-obscure secretary of state posts across the country. While most of them have been considered extremist long shots, a recent poll gave Mr. Finchem an edge in Arizona’s four-way Republican race, though a significant majority of voters are undecided. Mr. Finchem’s campaign pronouncements are testament to the evolution of the “Stop the Stea” movement: It is as much about influencing future elections as it is about what happened in 2020.

According to a review by the Times, much of the $1.2 million Finchem has raised for his campaign, a sizable sum compared to previous races, has come from outside Arizona. “Seven of the eight donors who were listed as having donated the $5,300 maximum in his last two campaign filings were from elsewhere,” the newspaper reported. “Major donors include Brian T. Kennedy, a past president of the right-wing Claremont Institute, and Michael Marsicano, a former mayor of Hazleton, Pa., who recently lost a Republican congressional primary.”

 

  While the Brennan Center analysis offers a detailed list of some individual givers who are maxing out to candidates like Finchem in state contests nationwide, the group warns “with dark money groups active in many contests, there is much we don’t know about who is support­ing elec­tion deniers.”