As the fallout from the months-long effort to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election victory continues to spread, North Carolina GOP donor Fred Eshelman is demanding the return of a whopping $2.5 million that he donated to a Texas-based organization called True The Vote. The organization has worked nationwide to advance the idea that widespread fraud has plagued the U.S. electoral process, but there’s no meaningful evidence for this claim. In the wake of the 2020 election, no court anywhere in the country ever accepted the idea of systematic fraud. No matter the lack of meaningful evidence for their claims of widespread fraud, Republican interests including True The Vote raked in cash.
A GOP donor gave $2.5 million for a voter fraud investigation. He wants his money back.
He alleges in a lawsuit that True the Vote did not spend his donations as it said it would, instead directing the money to people connected to the group's president. https://t.co/JaZzILLSaG
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 15, 2021
Across two months following the presidential election, Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party raised over $250 million — and a lot of this money went towards ads rather than the actual court fight against the presidential election results. True The Vote filed its own lawsuits, and attorney James Bopp tried to coordinate these legal efforts with the Trump campaign — but the then-president’s team did not accept the partnership.
Now, Eshelman alleges “that True the Vote did not spend his $2 million gift and a subsequent $500,000 donation as it said it would” and that the organization “directed much of his money to people or businesses connected to the group’s president, Catherine Engelbrecht,” as summarized by The Washington Post.
Amazingly, when asked by the Post about the situation, Engelbrecht claimed that her group is investigating election-related issues “even now.” Joe Biden is the president of the United States and Donald Trump is residing at his Palm Beach area resort, but there are still some of Trump’s allies who refuse to let go of the fantasy that widespread fraud threatened the election. Meanwhile, Bopp said that “no conditions were attached to Eshelman’s donations and he is not entitled to the return of his money just because he didn’t like the outcome,” as the Post summarizes, but Eshelman is pursuing a federal lawsuit against the group anyway.
Tom Crawford, who worked with Eshelman in the True The Vote effort, said that they “were just not getting any data or proof” supporting their claims. Unsurprisingly, True The Vote’s efforts quickly devolved into total clownery. The group sought so-called whistleblowers to support their narrative of imaginary nationwide election fraud, but people who came forward — like a “guy in Georgia who claimed to be the bagman for Stacey Abrams,” as Crawford told the Post — were just not credible.
Eshelman’s final donation of half a million dollars for True The Vote came on November 13 — the same day that Engelbrecht got a bill for $1 million from Dikran Yacoubian, the chief of an online advertising company who’d worked with Eshelman. Overall, True The Vote outlined a budget of over $7 million for their effort to prove the existence of voter fraud, but Engelbrecht didn’t pay the $1 million bill from Yacoubian, and the effort continued to fall apart in spectacular fashion. Eshelman first insisted upon the return of his donations on November 17, but the group refused to return the full amount. They offered $1 million, but in response, Eshelman went to court.