Politics Georgia's Republican Party accused of illegally accepting in-kind contributions from an election integrity nonprofit in a new FEC complaint
How the Republican claim about election integrity is helping Vladimir Putin
'Election integrity' really is camouflage for a different agenda, which is to make it harder for Democrats to vote. Last year President Trump, in objecting to a stimulus bill's funding for absentee and mail in voting, candidly said, "they had levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you would never have a Republican elected in this country again." Before the November election, Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston (R) approvingly referred to Trump's remark and said that such expanded voting would be "extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.
- A new FEC complaint accuses the Georgia Republican Party of campaign finance violations.
- Two watchdog groups say they illegally accepted in-kind contributions from nonprofit True the Vote.
- True the Vote publicly touted its partnership with the Georgia GOP on social media.
Two government watchdog groups are filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the Georgia Republican Party of illegally accepting in-kind contributions from True the Vote, a nonprofit that engaged in election-related activities around the Georgia Senate runoffs.
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True the Vote, a 501(c)3 based in Texas,It has advocated for voting policy changes like voter ID laws and stricter voting regulations, organizing poll-watching operations and other grassroots efforts, and suing jurisdictions over the state of their voter rolls, and often
In the complaint, filed Wednesday morning and first obtained by Insider, lawyers for Campaign Legal Center Action and Common Cause Georgia accuse the Georgia GOP of unlawfully taking and then failing to properly report in-kind corporate contributions from the group in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
The FECas a "non-monetary contribution" to benefit a campaign or committee. Federal law, however, bans corporations (including both for-profit and non-profit organizations) from making such contributions to candidates or party committees or coordinating with them.
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Gov. Brian Kemp said that there's 'nothing Jim Crow' about Georgia's new voting law and blasted Joe Biden and 'his handlers' for not having read it after the president accused it of being 'un-American.'Kemp had signed an 'election integrity' bill into law on Thursday that Biden had blasted in a statement from the White House as 'Jim Crow in the 21st Century' while urging Congress to pass national voting acts favored by Democrats.
"True the Vote is prohibited from making in-kind contributions to political parties, and True the Vote is prohibited from coordinating political expenditures with parties, like the Georgia Republican Party," Brendan Fischer, director of Campaign Legal Center Action's federal reform program and one of the lawyers filing the complaint, told Insider. "The relevant legal standard is whether True the Vote spent money in connection with an election, and in some ways, that's a broader standard than what might apply to other entities."
The organization's open coordination with the Georgia Republican Party in its efforts to fund election-related activity, the complaint said, puts them squarely in violation of the law.
This isn't the first time True the Vote has been accused of such tactics., groups including the Texas Democratic Party and Texans for Justice Public charged in a lawsuit that True the Vote made illegal in-kind contributions to the Harris County Republican Party in the form of recruiting partisan poll watchers.
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Rep. Jody Hice, a Republican, announced last week that he is running for Georgia secretary of state, the state's top elections job. His 2022 campaign was immediately endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly launched dishonest attacks against the Republican currently in the post, Brad Raffensperger. © Newsmax Jody Hice Newsmax 210322 And then Hice went on television and made a series of false claims about the 2020 election. This was not new behavior.
"What we're hoping to do is to send a message that this activity does not belong in Georgia, this isn't actually helpful for voters, and it doesn't actually increase integrity or the trust value of our elections in Georgia," Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia, told Insider. "We're pursuing this complaint because this is not activity that is legal federally, and it shouldn't take place in our state."
Representatives for the Georgia Republican Party and True the Vote did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
'A pretty egregious violation'
Ahead of the January 5 dual US Senate runoffs in Georgia, True the Votewith the Republican party, which was working to elect former Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue, who are not accused of any wrongdoing in the complaint.
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When it first came out last week that Rep. Matt Gaetz was under investigation for his sexual involvement with a 17-year-old, the Florida Republican said his travel records would exonerate him. “It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie,” Gaetz told Tucker Carlson on Fox News a week ago. “The New York Times is running a story that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman, and that is verifiably false. People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case.” What Gaetz knew—or should have known—is that there are no such public records, at least not when it comes to his private life.There are, however, campaign filings.
True the Vote's activities in Georgia included voter mobilization activity, funding, training volunteers in signature matching techniques, coordinating volunteer monitoring of ballot drop boxes, and "other election integrity initiatives,"
The organization was more than open about its coordination in those activities with the Georgia GOP. As the complaint lays out, the group announced their partnershipthat quoted Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer's praise of the group, promoted the partnership on social media, and touted it in fundraising emails to raise more money for the effort.
"This was a pretty egregious violation, and I've never seen one quite like it," Fischer said. "Typically the kinds of violations that we see would at least be harder to detect."
-True the Vote (@TrueTheVote)
The group also spearheaded a largely unsuccessful campaignin the lead-up to the runoffs.
True the Vote bills itself as an election integrity group whose goal is to make elections more secure. Dennis told Insider, however, that the group's involvement in the flurry ofand lawsuits in Georgia, combined with their unsubstantiated claims of major fraud and illegality in elections, did anything but.
Yes, the Georgia election law is that bad
The debate over whether Georgia’s law really suppresses voting reveals just how imperiled American democracy is.In the New York Times, Nate Cohn concluded that “the law’s voting provisions are unlikely to significantly affect turnout or Democratic chances.” Slate’s Will Saletan notes that some provisions really are troubling, but that the bill also contains good provisions and that critics have “overhyped” their concerns. Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, writes that “the idea this is an epic war on voting rights is simply absurd.
"I think that it was really damaging to election administration. It was a distraction, it was disruptive to having a fair, equitable balloting process. It really made the counties backlogged," Dennis said, saying that the organization's long-controversial methods of training volunteers to spot potential fraud led to more harassment of voters and headaches for election workers in Georgia.
Their press release stated that the group made a similar offer to provide election integrity-related resources to the Georgia Democratic Party, but the FEC complaint said that metadata from the site shows that the release was edited to add that information weeks after the fact.
"I think there's a number of ways that True the Vote and the Georgia Republican Party could have worked together without anybody ever detecting it, but they were very public about their partnership," Fischer said. "True the Vote was very public about what the purpose of their activities was. And that purpose, at a minimum, was in connection with the Georgia runoff election."
Even though True the Vote's activities didn't explicitly support one political party over the other or actively encourage Georgians to vote for particular candidates, "That's not the standard here," Fischer emphasized.
"Federal law is very clear, even after Citizens United, that any corporate expenditure made in connection with an election and in coordination with a political party is unlawful," he said.
True the Vote was active in the wake of the 2020 election
As former President Donald Trump escalated false claims of fraud and illegality in the 2020 election, True the Vote filed lawsuits in the battleground states of, , , and . But the group , citing "barriers to advancing our arguments, coupled with constraints on time."
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Venture capitalist Fred Eshelman, who gave $2.5 million to support True the Vote's efforts to hunt down fraud in 2020,for breach of contract and conversion, claiming that the organization went dark and failed to turn up any evidence of voter fraud after taking his money to fund the abandoned lawsuits. The organization's president Catharine Engelbrecht refuted Eshelman's claims
In late December,with the Internal Revenue Service accusing True the Vote of running afoul of its 501(c)3 nonprofit status by explicitly engaging in political activity through its partnership with the Georgia GOP.
"This case touches on the fact that voter suppression and big money in politics are two sides of the same coin," Fischer said. "Efforts to limit the vote and to protect or expand the influence of secret donors, ultimately they're both having the effect of depriving average voters a voice in the political process."
Voting Restrictions Aren’t the Primary Threat to U.S. Democracy .
The GOP is better at denying Democratic voters equal representation than it is at denying them access to the ballot.Less than six decades ago, Georgia was an authoritarian white ethno-state. At that time — and for the bulk of the state’s post-emancipation history — the preferred political party of white Georgians subordinated democracy to racial hierarchy by enacting facially neutral voting laws that disenfranchised virtually all of the state’s African Americans.