Category Archives: chicanery

“Two years after Jan. 6, Trump is still promoting violent rhetoric”

Aaron Blake for WaPo:

It has been some 25 months since supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. Trump was later impeached for allegedly inciting the mob, with a historic number of Republicans voting to convict, though the Senate acquitted him. And many of those arrested for rioting said Trump’s suggestive language ahead of that date amounted to a call to arms.

Trump has shown little remorse and no signs of self-reflection about what happened that day. In fact, he’s making and promoting the same kind of references to political violence that preceded Jan. 6.

Perhaps the most pronounced recent example came Tuesday. On his Truth Social platform, Trump shared the message of a user actively encouraging physical violence on his behalf.

Discussing a hypothetical effort to disqualify Trump from office, the user said anyone behind such an effort “will have to figure out how to fight 80,000,000 + it’s not going to happen again.”

“People my age and old will physically fight for him this time,” the user said. “What we got to lose ? I’ll donate the rest of my time here on this planet to do it. And I know many many others who feel the same. They got my 6 and we Are Locked and LOADED.”

Trump decided this was a message that needed to be shared with his supporters.

Unlike many of Trump’s previous allusions to political violence, this one contains no real ambiguity or dual meaning that could be exploited for plausible deniability. It was a straight-up assurance that Trump supporters will “physically” fight for him, en masse.

This is only the latest instance in which Trump has gestured in this direction. Using Truth Social, in recent months he has upped his amplification of messages related to QAnon, a conspiracy theory that the FBI has linked to the threat of extremist violence and that was embraced by many Jan. 6 rioters.

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“Lawmakers Call for Inquiry Into Durham’s Review of Russia Investigation”

NYT:

Two House Democrats urged the Justice Department’s independent inspector general on Wednesday to open an investigation into the special counsel review of the Russia inquiry, citing “alarming” disclosures in a recent New York Times article.

The article, which showed how the special counsel’s review became roiled by disputes over prosecutorial ethics, “reveals possible prosecutorial misconduct, abuse of power, ethical transgressions and a potential cover-up of an allegation of a financial crime committed by the former president,” the lawmakers wrote. In a four-page letter to the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, they asked that he scrutinize whether the special counsel, John H. Durham, or the attorney general who appointed him, William P. Barr, “violated any laws, D.O.J. rules or practices, or canons of legal ethics.”

A spokesman for Mr. Durham declined to comment.

Because Democrats are in the minority in the House, the two lawmakers — Representatives Ted Lieu of California and Dan Goldman of New York — lack the power to convene their own oversight hearings into the matter. But on Monday, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, suggested that he would hold oversight hearings into Mr. Durham’s inquiry along with other aspects of how the Trump administration handled the Justice Department….

And the article detailed how Mr. Barr had Mr. Durham hunted for evidence that intelligence abuses lurked in the origins of the Russia inquiry. After that turned into a dead end, they kept the investigation going by shifting to searching for a basis to accuse Hillary Clinton’s campaign of framing Mr. Trump for colluding with Russia.

Mr. Durham never charged such a conspiracy, but he used court filings to insinuate that there had been one, which Mr. Barr — no longer in office — publicly cheered. Mr. Lieu and Mr. Goldman wrote that “charging individuals with crimes in order to pursue separate political narratives undermines our rule of law and represents a gross abuse of power.”

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“What are Andy Ogles’ financial ties? Freshman GOP congressman ignores federal disclosure law”

NewsChannel5:

Tennessee’s newest congressman, Rep. Andy Ogles, quickly became a key player in the battle for control of the House, demanding concessions in exchange for his support for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

But a NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered the freshman Republican has never complied with a federal law required of all congressional candidates.

That law requires candidates and members of Congress to disclose their personal finances, so voters can know if they have any conflicts of interest.

Not only did Andy Ogles ignore that law during the campaign, he continues to ignore it today, NewsChannel 5 found….

Ogles’ office never responded to NewsChannel 5’s questions about why he has not followed the law.

Failure to file such personal financial disclosures could result in up to a year in prison and fines up to $66,000 — although the more common penalty is a $200 fine.

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“Revealed: Trump secretly donated $1m to discredited Arizona election ‘audit'”

The Guardian:/Documented:

One of the enduring mysteries surrounding the chaotic attempts to overturn Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential battle has been solved: who made a secret $1m donation to the controversial election “audit” in Arizona?

The identity of one of the largest benefactors behind the discredited review of Arizona’s vote count has been shrouded in secrecy. Now the Guardian can reveal that the person who partially bankrolled the failed attempt to prove that the election was stolen from Trump was … Trump.

An analysis by the watchdog group Documented has traced funding for the Arizona audit back to Trump’s Save America Pac. The group tracked the cash as it passed from Trump’s fund through an allied conservative group, and from there to a shell company which in turn handed the money to contractors and individuals involved in the Arizona audit.

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“The improbability of George Santos’ $199 expenses”

Politico:

Rep. George Santos’ congressional campaign reported dozens of transactions just cents below the threshold that would have triggered a requirement to preserve spending records — an unusual spending pattern that is now part of broader complaints about alleged financial improprieties.

Santos, who admitted in December that he faked parts of his biography, already faces a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission alleging his campaign repeatedly reported suspicious expenses. Those included eight charges of exactly $199.99 at an Italian restaurant in Queens and another $199.99 charge at a Miami-area hotel where rooms do not usually go for less than $600 per night. The specific amount matters because campaigns are required by law to keep receipts or invoices for expenses greater than $200

Campaigns rack up millions of dollars in expenses and thousands of line items per campaign, but it is rare for them to notch even one $199 expense, according to a POLITICO review of campaign finance records. FEC data shows more than 90 percent of House and Senate campaign committees around the country did not report a single transaction valued between $199 and $199.99 during the 2022 election cycle.

Santos reported 40 of them.

In fact, his campaign accounted for roughly half of all expenses by all campaigns that cost exactly $199.99 — a statistical improbability.

The rarity of campaign expenses falling so close to the legal limit for retaining receipts has raised concerns that the Santos campaign’s disbursements were “deliberately falsified,” a complaint from the Campaign Legal Center alleges. Major questions about Santos’ campaign financing remain unanswered, including the source of $700,000 that the New York congressman ostensibly loaned to his campaign despite questions about his personal finances.

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“Promoters of Election Lies Also Hyped a Hospital for Ukraine. That Never Happened Either.”

ProPublica/Dallas Morning News:

Gregg Phillips and Catherine Engelbrecht are best known as the election deniers behind True the Vote, a Texas-based nonprofit responsible for amplifying conspiracies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

But soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, they shifted some of their focus to the war effort, jumping into the fray with an inspiring idea — to bring a mobile hospital to the region to care for victims of the conflict.

They called it The Freedom Hospital.

Phillips solicited donations on conservative media platforms, linked up with American veterans working in Ukraine and traveled to the region in March to meet with local officials. The Freedom Hospital’s website announced it was halfway to its goal of raising $25 million.

“Our recent project, The Freedom Hospital, in Ukraine helps old folks, women and kids near the fight receive healthcare,” Phillips wrote on the conservative social media site Truth Social on June 5.

But that was one of a series of misrepresentations from Phillips and The Freedom Hospital about the operation’s donations and accomplishments, according to a joint investigation by ProPublica and The Dallas Morning News. The Freedom Hospital never got off the ground, and, through their lawyers, Phillips and Engelbrecht now say they never raised significant amounts of money for the project.

They never brought the mobile hospital to the region.

Both Phillips and Engelbrecht declined to answer questions. According to their lawyers, who spoke to ProPublica and the News, the pair’s Ukraine project was a good-faith effort that was unsuccessful.

hey said Phillips realized during his March trip to the region that the mission wasn’t feasible because local officials weren’t interested, because potential donors felt the U.S. government was already funneling enough money into the war effort, and because he was worried about the potential for local corruption.

“They pretty much abandoned it all as of, like, April,” Cameron Powell, a partner at Gregor, Wynne, Arney who’s one of the pair’s attorneys, said during a December interview. “Pretty much during his trip, he was deciding it’s probably not going to be feasible.”

Phillips continued to seek donations for months after that and gave the impression that the project was still in the works. The lawyers now say that is because the pair kept pushing forward “with their due diligence for a while longer” and declined to clarify exactly when the project was abandoned.

Asked about Phillips’ statements that The Freedom Hospital had raised half of its $25 million goal, the lawyers said that amount was an in-kind donation from the mobile hospital manufacturer, not cash. The manufacturer’s CEO disputed that account, saying it never pledged to make such a donation.

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“New details emerge in Houston A/C repairman’s 2020 assault over Hotze voter fraud conspiracy”

Houston Chronicle:

More than two years after Steven Hotze bankrolled a private voter fraud investigation that led to an armed confrontation with an innocent repairman, the Houston doctor was back in court earlier this month reiterating claims that Harris County Democrats are engaged in a massive election conspiracy.

Hotze, a Republican megadonor and fierce supporter of the debunked theory that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election, faces felony charges related to the episode and separately is being sued by the repairman. His lawyers this month accused the Democrat-led District Attorney’s office of retaliating against him for exposing the election-rigging, even though no substantive evidence of such a scheme has ever emerged. 

The criminal case against Hotze, who runs a lucrative health clinic in Katy and a vitamin retail business, isn’t likely to go to trial anytime soon in the county’s overburdened court system; Hotze faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint, as does Mark Aguirre, the investigator Hotze hired.

But a Houston Chronicle examination of documents in the civil proceeding reveals new details about the bizarre October 2020 attack – one that became a nationally known example of how an election fraud theory could put an unsuspecting civilian in danger.

The documents include extensive comments from that civilian, a Mexican immigrant named David Lopez who has worked fixing air conditioning systems in Houston for more than five years. He said he continues to fear for his life ever since Aguirre allegedly crashed his SUV into his box truck and pointed a gun at him, all under the false pretense that Lopez’s truck contained hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots. 

“I am afraid because the people who did this to me are very powerful. I have no power,” Lopez said. “I do not know why they attacked me. These people did not find what they were looking for so I am afraid they will attack me again. I don’t know what they are looking for.”

The documents also show that Hotze and his attorneys continue to insist that Lopez could have been a main perpetrator of voter fraud and that he received payments from Harris County Democratic officials. “We’ve got the goods,” Hotze said in a 2022 deposition. “It’s so complicated I can’t – I can’t comment on it right now, but we do.”

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“Cartels” Control Arizona and Stole the Gubernatorial Election from Her, Kari Lake Claims without Evidence

Oh my:

So far, several Arizona judges have ruled against the former television news anchor turned right-wing thought leader’s case, stating she has thus far failed to prove her approximately half-point loss to Hobbs was the result of intentional manipulation of ballots.

However, Lake has remained adamant that her case—reportedly backed and funded by MyPillow CEO and prominent election denier Mike Lindell—will ultimately make its way through the appeals process to the Arizona Supreme Court.

“We don’t want to have this cartel operative, this cartel-owned goon, Katie Hobbs, sitting in the governor’s office,” Lake told former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon on his War Room podcast over the weekend.

“Our state government is controlled by the cartels right now. The Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is a cartel attorney. And the cartels completely control Arizona, and that’s not what the people voted for. We know they stole the election. We know they had intentionally sabotaged Election Day. And we’ve proved that in court, and we will continue to prove it,” she said.

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“Records Show George Santos Made Questionable Payments to Vendors”

Newsday:

Campaign committees tied to Rep. George Santos paid tens of thousands of dollars to newly formed companies with opaque histories and meager track records of working for other candidates, a Newsday review ofstate and federal filings shows.

Election law and campaign finance experts said the lack of public information about such companies and their leaders —and the lack of detail describing the work they performed —could raise questions about whether Santos paid inflated rates for unnecessary services performed by friends and allies, or possibly diverted campaign donations for his own use.

The article includes some very detailed analysis of some of the vendors.

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“Republican candidate’s wife arrested, charged with casting 23 fraudulent votes for her husband in the 2020 election”

Insider:

The wife of an Iowa Republican who ran for Congress in 2020 was arrested Thursday and accused of casting 23 fraudulent votes on behalf of her husband.

In an 11-page indictment, prosecutors allege that Kim Phuong Taylor “visited numerous households within the Vietnamese community in Woodbury County,” where she collected absentee ballots for people who were not present at the time. Taylor, who was born in Vietnam, then filled out and cast those ballots herself, the indictment alleges, “causing the casting of votes in the names of residents who had no knowledge of and had not consented to the casting of their ballots.”

Taylor is also accused of signing voter registration forms on behalf of residents who were not present. In all, prosecutors allege, she engaged in 26 counts of providing false information and voting, three counts of fraudulent registration, and 23 counts of fraudulent voting. Each charge carries a maximum 5-year prison sentence.

The aim, prosecutors allege, was to get her husband, Republican politician Jeremy Taylor, elected to public office.

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“Former New York Election Official Admits to Vote Fraud Scheme”

NYT:

A former upstate New York election official pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal identity theft charges arising from his fraudulent use of voters’ personal information to apply for a dozen absentee ballots in 2021.

In entering his plea in U.S. District Court in Albany, the former official, Jason Schofield, admitted to requesting the bogus ballots through a state website in his role as the Republican election commissioner in Rensselaer County, federal prosecutors said in a news release.

Mr. Schofield’s guilty plea is part of a broader federal inquiry into potential ballot fraud across Rensselaer County, just east of Albany.

He or someone working for him sought the ballots from May to October 2021, during elections for county executive, clerk and legislature and municipal races in the cities of Rensselaer and Troy, according to the indictment charging him in the case. At the time, New York State voters were able to request absentee ballots online because of the pandemic.

The voters whose names and birth dates Mr. Schofield, 43, used to obtain the ballots either had no interest in voting, absentee or otherwise; had not asked for absentee ballots or his help in getting them; or did not know what he was doing with their information, the indictment says.

In several instances, the indictment says, Mr. Schofield had the voters whose names he had used illicitly sign the envelopes the ballots were to be returned in without completing the ballots themselves. That allowed him to fill out the ballots himself and deliver them to the county elections board for processing, the indictment says.

Mr. Schofield, a county election commissioner from April 2018 until his resignation last month, admitted on Wednesday that he had falsely certified on the ballot applications that he was the voter requesting the ballots, prosecutors said.

He also admitted taking possession of nine of the 12 ballots despite knowing that county election records would show they had gone to the voters whose information he used in the scheme, prosecutors said.

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“The Mysterious, Unregistered Fund That Raised Big Money for Santos”

NYT:

A month before George Santos was elected to Congress, one of his large donors received a call asking him to consider making another sizable contribution.

The request came from a Republican loyalist calling on behalf of RedStone Strategies, which was described in an email to the donor as an “independent expenditure” group that was supporting Mr. Santos’s bid to flip a Democratic House seat in New York. The group had already raised $800,000 and was seeking to raise another $700,000, according to the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times.

The donor came through: Days later, on Oct. 21, he sent $25,000 to a Wells Fargo Bank account belonging to RedStone Strategies.

Three months later, Mr. Santos is now in Congress, but where the donor’s money went is unclear. The Federal Election Commission said it had no evidence that RedStone Strategies was registered as a political group, and there do not appear to be any records documenting its donors, contributions or spending.

Mr. Santos and his lawyer refused to answer questions about RedStone’s fund-raising efforts and whether Mr. Santos was involved in them. But he did have ties to a Redstone Strategies LLC, registered to an address in Merritt Island, Fla., in November 2021, as Mr. Santos was preparing his second run for Congress. The firm listed the Devolder Organization, a company owned by Mr. Santos, as one of its managing officers.

A company website describes that Redstone as being run by “experters in marketing and others in politics” whose services in ad creation, communications and fund-raising have value “no matter if you are in a local race or if you are going to be the next president of the United States.”

Yet the firm’s body of work — at least for candidates and committees that are required to file campaign expense reports — appears limited. A Times search of campaign finance records uncovered payments from a failed House candidate on Long Island and two groups tied to New York legislative candidates.

It also shows a payment from a PAC called Rise NY, run by Mr. Santos’s sister, Tiffany. State records show the group sent a wire transfer for $6,000 in April 2022 to Red Stone Strategies. It listed a Wells Fargo Bank branch on Merritt Island as its address.

The murkiness around the fund-raising operations on behalf of Mr. Santos makes it difficult to know whether any laws were broken. But a close examination of available records suggest RedStone may have skirted the law.

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Alabama: “Perry County Commission Chairman charged with voting multiple times, ‘stuffing’ ballot box”

Al.com:

Perry County Commission Chairman Albert Turner Jr. has been indicted on voter fraud charges.

Fourth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Michael Jackson, along with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, announced the two-count indictment Wednesday.

Turner, the son of civil rights activist Albert Turner Sr., is charged with voting more than once, which is a misdemeanor, and harvesting ballots, a felony.

The allegations stem from two different elections in Perry County – one in May and one in November, both in 2022.

Jackson said Turner is accused of “stuffing” ballots into a voting machine in the May Democratic primary election.

“He was there most of the day stuffing filled out ballots in favor of the candidates he was supporting,’’ Jackson said. “Witnesses came forward, and we felt we had enough to present to a Perry County grand jury.”

In the November general election, he said, Turner is accused of mailing an undisclosed number of absentee ballots.

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“George Santos broke campaign finance laws, nonpartisan watchdog says”

WaPo:

complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission accused Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who has admitted to fabricating key details of his biography, of wide-ranging campaign finance violations.

The alleged wrongdoing includes masking the true source of his campaign’s funding, misrepresenting his campaign’s spending and using campaign resources to cover personal expenses.

The complaint, filed by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, could propel a formal investigation into Santos by the federal regulator, the latest chapter in a saga testing the boundaries of political falsehood. Santos has been revealed to have lied about his heritage, education and professional qualifications during his campaign for Congress last year….

The complaint names Santos and his primary campaign committee, along with his company, the Devolder Organization, and his treasurer, Nancy Marks. Santos, whose election to Congress on Long Island last year helped the GOP secure its narrow majority, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Marks has not responded to phone calls in recent days.

The congressman’s deceptions have already sparked an investigation by the district attorney’s office in Nassau County, N.Y. Authorities in Brazil are also seeking to revive a fraud case against him dating from 2008.

As probes into Santos multiply, questions about how his campaign raised and spent money are coming into sharp focus.

He reported loaning his campaign more than $700,000 in the 2021-22 cycle despite having only $55,000 in earned income during his previous run for Congress in 2020, according to a financial disclosure. Campaign Legal Center called his claims of earning millions over the previous two years from the Devolder Organization “vague, uncorroborated, and non-credible in light of his many previous lies.”

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