Fred Eshelman, a financier in North Carolina, donated $2 million on Nov. 5 to a small conservative nonprofit, True the Vote, that was mounting efforts to prove former President Donald Trump actually won the November election, The Washington Post reports. By Nov. 17, he was asking that True the Vote return his $2 million gift, plus a subsequent $500,000 donation. True the Vote offered him $1 million, and Eshelman, 72, is now suing the group in Texas state court, having dropped a similar federal lawsuit Feb. 1.
Eshelman explained to the Post that he had “thought about the range of possibilities around vote fraud,” and wanted to determine if the “noise around cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Philadelphia” was “legit.” He approached one of his former lobbyists, Tom Crawford, who agreed to help on an informal basis and became his representative on the True the Vote campaign. True the Vote, a Texas group founded in 2010 by Tea Party activist Catherine Engelbrecht, had never raised more than $1.8 million in a single year, the Post notes, citing tax records.
Engelbrecht, 51, defended her group’s effort to dig up voter fraud and said it “is ongoing even now.” True the Vote said in court documents that Eshelman’s money was properly spent, and the organization’s lawyer, James Bopp, said there were no strings were attached to Eshelman’s donation and he isn’t entitled to a refund because he’s disappointed with the results.
Crawford and Eshelman were becoming frustrated with True the Vote’s lack of progress, but the final straw was Bopp’s decision to drop all four True the Vote lawsuits he had filed. Bopp told the Post that after his outreach to coordinate efforts with the Trump campaign went nowhere, he “could see they were not going to accomplish anything.”
Bopp said he still thinks there was fraud, even if he can’t prove it, but Eshelman told the Post he isn’t sure the “misbehavior” would have “risen to a degree that would change the electoral outcome.” Crawford told the Post he saw enough. “I believe very much that Biden won and that anything we saw in terms of irregularities was not widespread enough to have changed the outcome.” Read the entire story and its twists and turns at The Washington Post. Peter Weber