So much for principled conservatism. New reporting from The Guardian and Open Secrets:
A powerful new conservative organization fighting to restrict voting in the 2020 presidential election is really just a rebranded group that is part of a dark money network already helping Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the US federal judiciary, the Guardian and OpenSecrets reveal.
The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking fears about voter fraud. Backed by a dark money group funded by rightwing stalwarts like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos’ family, the Honest Elections Project is part of the network that pushed the US supreme court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the escalating fight over voting rights.
The project announced it was spending $250,000 in advertisements in April, warning against voting by mail and accusing Democrats of cheating. It facilitated letters to election officials in Colorado, Florida and Michigan, using misleading data to accuse jurisdictions of having bloated voter rolls and threatening legal action.
Calling voter suppression a “myth”, it has also been extremely active in the courts, filing briefs in favor of voting restrictions in Nevada, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among other places, at times represented by lawyers from the same firm that represents Trump. By having a hand in both voting litigation and the judges on the federal bench, this network could create a system where conservative donors have an avenue to both oppose voting rights and appoint judges to back that effort….
Despite appearing to be a free-standing new operation, the Honest Elections Project is just a legal alias for the Judicial Education Project, a well-financed nonprofit connected to a powerful network of dark money conservative groups, according to business records reviewed by the Guardian and OpenSecrets….
For nearly a decade, the organization has been almost entirely funded by DonorsTrust, known as a “dark money ATM” backed by the Koch network and other prominent conservative donors, according to data tracked by OpenSecrets. In 2018, more than 99% of the Judicial Education Project’s funding came from a single $7.8m donation from DonorsTrust.
The Judicial Education Project is also closely linked to Leonard Leo, one of the most powerful people in Washington who has shaped Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the federal judiciary with conservative judges….
There is a lot of overlap between the Honest Elections Project and the Judicial Crisis Network. Both groups share personnel, including Carrie Severino, the influential president of the Judicial Crisis Network. Both groups have been funded by The Wellspring Committee, a group Leo raised money for until it shut down in 2018. Both have also paid money to BH Group, an LLC Leo once disclosed as his employer, that made a $1m mystery donation to Trump’s inauguration.