Donald Trump spent the past two years fundraising off of his 2020 election loss. Hats, t-shirts, events, photo books, and mugs, all branded with the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Those who aren't Trump have figured out the profits are significant and the rules are nil.
Issue One describes election-denying secretary of state candidates raked in buckets of cash and the political consultant class found ways to profit too.
Political consultancies raked in millions from the election-denying secretary of state candidates in 2022 using rhetoric that is consistent with Trump's claim of 2020 election fraud. In most states, the secretary of the state conducts elections in addition to other state businesses. Eight of these far-right candidates were rejected by voters in Nov. 2022.
The Issue One analysis focused on 11 of the 12, seven of which were considered to be "competitive." Only one prevailed, while the other six lost.
Mark Finchem, running for SoS in Arizona, raised $2 million for his state race, but he spent far less than that on his campaign. It's exceptionally rare for a down-ballot constitutional office to bring in as much money as a gubernatorial race or certainly a U.S. Senate race.
"Election deniers like Chuck Gray of Wyoming and Wes Allen of Alabama prevailed in their races in Republican-leaning states after spending between $700,000 and $800,000," Issue One explained. Monae Johnson spent just $67,000 in her successful bid for South Dakota secretary of state, though her financial breakdown is difficult given the overly broad categories for disbursements in state campaign finance reporting.
Nine companies, some of which were brand new, focused on "America First" candidates, while others have been around for many years in GOP circles. Top vendors were also big profiteers from these candidates.
Go Right Strategies, based in Florida, scored $1.5 million from SoS candidates denying the 2020 election. Most of it came from Mark Finchem to the tune of 76 percent. The company's owner Spence Rogers is the nephew of Wendy Rogers in Arizona. She's got ties to white nationalists, the report explained. She's saluted white supremacist Nick Fuentes and she's been censured by the state Senate after speaking at a white nationalist convention.
The Las Vegas company McShane LLC raked in $696,000 from election deniers, most coming from Jim Marchant (nearly $500,000), who lost. Chuck Gray in Wyoming spent close to $200,000 on the company. He lost too. Rory McShane set up the Take Back the West PAC, which has the goal of finding so-called "election fraud" in the 2020 election. It raised nearly $80,000 and spent $75,000 all to McShane LLC. Another PAC, Take Back the West paid him nearly $570,000 to make mailers and TV ads that supported Trump in 2020.
McShane vice president Woodrow Johnston tried to recruit Proud Boys to come to the Clark County Election Department in 2020 when they were counting votes. They recently hired Sam Peters, who lost his 2022 congressional race while promoting 2020 conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems.
Patriot Strategic Group scored $400,000 from the SoS campaign in Michigan, which was 33 percent of candidate Kristina Karamo's total budget. The Michigan company was started in April 2022 by agent Dom Theodore, who works for Glenn Beck.
The Strategy Group for Media got $103,000in 2022 from three SoS candidates denying the election. The Issue One report cited "$76,000 from Diego Morales of Indiana, $22,000 from Dominic Rapini of Connecticut, and $5,000 from Kristina Karamo of Michigan."
The group's chair, Rex Elsass, was the one behind pushing he late Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) to stay in the 2021 race against former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) even after he claimed that women couldn't get pregnant after a "legitimate rape." Her body, he explained, "has a way of shutting that down." The report cited a report that once called Elsass “a ringleader of a GOP dirty-tricks group labeled the ‘nasty boys’” by the Columbus Dispatch.
Meanwhile, Trump Properties brought in about $81,000 from SoS candidates heading to kiss the ring of the party's leader or spend money at his properties. Karamo spent nearly $22,000 at the New Jersey golf club in 2022 for a fundraiser. Marchant spent a little more than $6,000 on events at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas.
These are just some of the many, many firms that pocketed cash over the course of the 2022 election off of the secretary of state candidates pushing the 2020 election lies. It barely scrapes the surface of the random political action committees that are working on fundraising off of the idea that somehow they can help Trump take back the White House from the 2020 election.
Just a search for Trump 2020 election merchandise turns up sponsored Google ads for Patriot Depot, WinRed and the Trump Store of America (not affiliated with the former president). Others like RightWingGear and Republican Dogs are all selling $20 or $25 t-shirts to promote the 2020 conspiracy.