Must-Read: “Inside the Billionaire-Backed ‘Hub for Election Denial’”

Roger Sollenberger for The Daily Beast:

Right-wing megadonor Dick Uihlein has been funneling tens of millions of dollars to election deniers, but a previously unreported IRS filing shows he has also teamed up with one.

According to its 2021 annual IRS filing, the Uihlein-backed dark money nonprofit Restoration Action Inc. hired Arizona Republican Gina Swoboda as an executive director last year, paying her $108,750 in salary.

Swoboda, a former Trump campaign official and the vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party, is now leading a misguided charge against the ballot count in that state on behalf of GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

Swoboda currently serves as “election integrity” coordinator for Lake, whose repeated false claims of voter fraud have ingratiated her to former President Donald Trump and who still refuses to acknowledge her election loss to Katie Hobbs. After the election, Lake promoted Swoboda’s appearance on a right-wing podcast.

In addition to hiring Swoboda, the filing shows Restoration Action’s accounts swelling for the second year in a row.

    According to the filing, in the 12 months following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Restoration Action’s revenue topped $20.5 million—double what the group raised in 2020, and light years beyond its $64,000 haul in 2019.

    As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Restoration Action doesn’t have to disclose the names of its donors, though it is tied to the larger Restoration of America network, funded almost exclusively by the Uihleins. And the document shows that in 2021, one anonymous donor accounted for $19,860,445 of Restoration Action’s total revenue.

    More notable than the influx of cash, however, is the spike in spending. The nonprofit not only doubled its income from 2020 to 2021, it also began handing out more money. In the year after the Jan. 6 insurrection, Restoration Action gave more than $9.6 million to conservative causes, most of them laser-focused on so-called “election integrity” projects. The year before, that number was a little shy of $1.4 million.

    Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director of good government group Documented, which shared the filing with The Daily Beast, said the disclosure shows that anti-democratic forces have deep pockets.

    “Restoration Action is a hub for election denial, including funding some of the key players pushing election falsehoods in Arizona at the moment,” Fischer said. “This is a reminder that there’s big money behind the push to undermine democracy. Through Restoration Action and other entities, an array of groups pushing election conspiracy theories are backed by literally tens of millions of dollars from just one billionaire couple.”

    That billionaire couple—Dick and Elizabeth Uihlein—constitute the biggest Republican donors overall for the 2022 midterms. And the overwhelming majority of their contributions—about 80 percent—have gone to candidates who have denied or questioned the 2020 election results, The Daily Beast previously reported….

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