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Inside the Billionaire-Backed Dick Uihlein ‘Hub for Election Denial’ Restoration Action


Right-wing megadonor Dick Uihlein has been funneled tens of millions of dollars for those who refuse to votebut a previously unreported IRS filing shows he also partnered with one.

According to annual 2021 IRS filings, the nonprofit Restoration Action Inc. backed by Uihlein hired Arizona Republican Gina Swoboda as chief executive last year, paying her $108,750 in salary.

Swaboda, a former Trump campaign official and vice chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, now leads a false charge against counting votes in that state on behalf of GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

Swoboda is currently acting as “electoral integrity coordinator” for Lake, who repeatedly made false statements about voter fraud that earned her sympathy for former President Donald Trump and who still refuse recognize her election lost to Katie Hobbs. After the election, Lake promote The appearance of Swaboda on the right wing audio files.

In addition to recruiting Swoboda, records show that Restoration Action’s account grew for the second year in a row.

According to the filing, in the 12 months following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Restoration Action’s revenue reached $20.5 million—double the amount the team raised. in 2020and light years beyond its $64,000 figure 2019.

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Restoration Action does not have to disclose the names of its sponsors, although it is tied to the larger, sponsored Restoration of America network. almost exclusively by the Uihleins. And the document shows that in 2021, an anonymous donor accounted for $19,860.445 of Recovery Action’s total revenue.

More notable than cash flow, however, was the spike in spending. This nonprofit not only doubled its income from 2020 to 2021, but also started distributing more money. In the year following the January 6 uprising, Recovery Action gave more than $9.6 million to conservative causes, most of which focused on the so-called “integrity” project. in the election”. Last year, that number was a bit shy of $1.4 million.

Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director of the good government group Documented, which shared the file with The Daily Beast, said the disclosure showed anti-democracy forces had a lot of money.

“Restoration Action is a hub for election denial, including funding some of the key figures driving election misconduct in Arizona at this time,” Fischer said. “This is a reminder that there is a lot of money behind the effort to undermine democracy. Through Restoration Action and other organizations, a series of groups promoting election conspiracy theories are backed by tens of millions of dollars from just one billionaire couple.”

That billionaire couple—Dick and Elizabeth Uihlein—are the largest Republican donors overall to the 2022 midterm elections. And most of their contributions — about 80 percent — have been channeled. to candidates who have rejected or questioned the 2020 election results, The Daily Beast previously report.

The group joined Swoboda in May 2021, to run a fully controlled arm called the Voter Reference Organization (VoteRef), the Center for Responsive Politics report. This is just a few months after she had spread false news following Trump’s defeat as head of his campaign’s election day operations in Arizona.

Election officials have called VoteRef’s method flawed and questioned whether its work is legitimate, ProPublica said. report. (The same month Restoration Action created VoteRef, Uihlein launched 1.5 million USD for an affiliated political action committee, called “Recovery PAC”, according to a submit with the Federal Election Commission.)

VoteRef has focused its efforts not only on Arizona but the Midwest as well. (The Uihleins family live in Illinois and focus most of their dedication in Wisconsin.) Over the past year, VoteRef has released the personal information of millions of voters as part of a broader effort to empower voters. members of the public looking for the accused”error” in the list of voters. (Some states make it illegal to publish voter registration lists.)

Last year, the group teamed up with another Wisconsinite—pro-Trump conspiracy theorist and election attorney Cleta Mitchell, Politico report.

While the Restoration Action is not required to list its sponsors, it does disclose the groups it sponsors. And they are linked to fringe causes, including those who refuse to vote.

Last year’s top recipient was Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion expert, who received $3.2 million. About $2 million of that was allocated to an unspecified “limited grant.” Although the purpose was not stated, in February 2021, a month after the uprising, the SBA given an “Electoral Transparency Initiative” in conjunction with another Uihlein-funded group called the “American Principles Project”.

The American Principles Project received $900,000 from the Restoration Action, according to IRS filings. APPLICATION broadcast last minute election ads in Arizona accused Democratic Senator Mark Kelly and President Joe Biden of “promoting dangerous drugs and transgender surgery for children.” (In December 2021, Twitter prohibit APP Director of Policy and Government Affairs for an anti-transgender tweet.)

Restoration Action also donated $600,000 to the super PAC affiliated with the January 6 rally organizer Tea Party Patriots. (Uihlein was that group’s top sponsor in 2020.) However, it is not clear from the records whether that 2021 donation came during the five days when the group was holding the protest or in the 360 ​​days after that event led to a deadly attack on the Capitol.

Another $1.5 million went to the Lawyers Democracy Fund, a conservative dark money group that advocates for changes to election laws. In October, the LDF submitted a summary amicus with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as part of a successful challenge to issue undated mail-in ballots. Last month, the LDF filed a separate application summary amicus in the U.S. Supreme Court, supported North Carolina Republicans who wanted to adopt the theory of “independent state legislatures”—the controversial claim that the state legislatures assumed ultimate control. with the election results, a controversial usurpation of power that both free and conservative the group was in dispute.

And the team sent another half million to Combat Voter Fraud, which also to push baseless claims of election fraud, including in 2021.

Another recipient, the Freedom Initiative Foundation, donated $675,000 for a group fighting for more restrictive voter ID requirements in Michigan. That Michigan team has raised a total of $2.2 million, with $1.5 million coming from Uihlein he himself.

But Restoration Action has also done its own thing. In the tax document, the group states that throughout 2021, it has used digital media and direct mail to promote the “blueprint for America” ​​and to “encourage participation in the election process.” nominate”.

It ended the year with $4,725,671 to roll over to the midterms.

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