NYT on “2000 Mules”/True the Vote Nonsense; Come for the Part Where Greg Phillip Says His Method to Track Supposed Voter Fraud is a “Trade Secret”; Stay for the Von Spakovsky Lie About Federal Law and Ballot Collection


The film, directed by the conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, is based in part on an erroneous premise: that getting paid to deliver other people’s ballots is illegal not just in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia where True the Vote centered its research and where third-party delivery of ballots is not allowed in most cases, but in every state.

What’s more, the film claims, but never shows in its footage, that individual “mules” stuffed drop box after drop box. (Mr. Phillips said such footage exists, but Mr. D’Souza said it wasn’t included because “it’s not easy to tell from the images themselves that it is the same person.”) Those claims are purportedly backed up by tracking cellphone data, but the film’s methods of analysis have been pilloried in numerous factchecks. (True the Vote declined to offer tangible proof — Mr. Phillips calls his methodology a “trade secret.”)

More broadly, Ms. Engelbrecht has said that the surge of mail-in voting in 2020 was part of a Marxist plot, aided by billionaires including George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg, to disrupt American elections, rather than a legitimate response to the coronavirus pandemic….

Mr. Phillips, whose firm OpSec does data analysis for True the Vote, is perhaps best known for making a fantastical claim in 2017 that more than three million illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election, which was amplified by Mr. Trump but never backed up with evidence. Mr. Phillips is also an adviser to Get Georgia Right, a political action committee that received $500,000 from Mr. Trump’s Save America PAC this past March 25, the day after Mr. Phillips and Ms. Engelbrecht advanced their 2020 vote-fraud theories to a legislative committee in Wisconsin. Mr. Phillips said he had “received zero money” from Get Georgia Right, which backed Mr. Trump’s favored and failed governor-primary candidate, David Perdue.

Mr. Phillips and Ms. Engelbrecht have become controversial even within the hard-right firmament. They are embroiled in litigation with True the Vote’s largest donor, and Ms. Engelbrecht has feuded with Cleta Mitchell, a leading Trump ally and elections lawyer. John Fund, a prominent conservative journalist who was once a booster of Ms. Engelbrecht, has implored donors to shun her, according to videotape provided to The New York Times by Documented, a nonprofit news site.

“I would not give her a penny,” Mr. Fund said at a meeting of members of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group of right-wing leaders, in the summer of 2020. “She’s a good person who’s been led astray. Don’t do it.”…

The group has not presented any evidence that the ballots themselves — as opposed to their delivery — were improper. “I want to make very clear that we’re not suggesting that the ballots that were cast were illegal ballots. What we’re saying is that the process was abused,” Ms. Engelbrecht said in Wisconsin. In an interview, she backtracked, but when asked to provide evidence of improper votes, she only pointed to previous accusations unrelated to the 2020 general election.

A repeated contention of the documentary is that getting paid to deliver other peoples’ ballots is illegal in every state. Mr. D’Souza emailed The New York Times a citation to a federal statute that outlaws getting paid to vote — and does not discuss delivering other people’s ballots. Hans von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation fellow, appears in the movie agreeing that the practice is outlawed nationwide, but in 2019 he wrote that it was “perfectly legal” in some states for “political guns-for-hire” to collect ballots. (Asked about the discrepancy, Mr. von Spakovsky said he believed the practice is illegal based on federal law.)

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