In the months before the 2020 presidential election, then-President Donald Trump and the Republican party launched a smear campaign against mail-in voting, anticipating an unprecedented number of pandemic-induced mail ballots and falsely claiming these were more susceptible to voter fraud.
Because mail ballots swung mostly left and took longer to process than those cast in person, the initial returns on election night showed Trump in the lead. As more and more mail ballots were counted, this lead soon evaporated and—days later—experts and news outlets called the election for now-President Joe Biden.
With the help of his allies in the Republican party, Trump accused dozens of swing state counties of surreptitiously "finding" the votes necessary to deliver Biden a win.
In addition to siccing his supporters on counting facilities, pressuring state officials to throw out votes, and launching frivolous lawsuits against the integrity of U.S. elections, Trump and other right wing entities solicited donations from supporters who believed their lies about voter fraud.
These solicitations raised hundreds of millions of dollars but turned up no new information about alleged voter fraud.
Now, at least one high profile GOP donor wants his money back.
Shortly after election night, Fred Eshelman donated over $2 million to True the Vote, a so-called election integrity organization.
A report from Washington Post's Shawn Boburg and Jon Swaine details that in the weeks following the gargantuan donation, Eshelman became skeptical of the legitimacy in these voter fraud claims.
Eshelman has since sued the organization, with the Post reporting:
"Eshelman has alleged in two lawsuits — one in federal court has been withdrawn and the other is ongoing in a Texas state court — that True the Vote did not spend his $2 million gift and a subsequent $500,000 donation as it said it would. Eshelman also alleges that True the Vote directed much of his money to people or businesses connected to the group's president, Catherine Engelbrecht."
True the Vote filed lawsuits in a number of swing states Trump lost, while claiming the evidence they had for these lawsuits was still being uncovered. Engelbrecht claims that they never promised a "smoking gun" that would overturn the election results.
Nearly three months and one President later, Eshelman is still out $2.5 million.
After lies about election fraud prompted a mob of pro-Trump extremists to storm the United States Capitol in a deadly failed insurrection attempt last month, people weren't feeling sympathetic toward Eshelman's loss.
They hoodwinked him out of 2.5 MILLION?🤔 🤣🤣🤣 https://t.co/keiCb4lH1E— Pam Keith, Esq. (@Pam Keith, Esq.)1613419802.0
Good luck! 😂😂 https://t.co/RfvrJNscl5— Snarky Stardust (@Snarky Stardust)1613421112.0
"If you’re in the con game and you don’t know who the mark is...you’re the mark." — David Mamet https://t.co/0QyCHS47H7— Billy Corben (@Billy Corben)1613419875.0
Put that face next to Stupidity in the dictionary. https://t.co/XMG6kriIvd— SmartDissent.com (@SmartDissent.com)1613419412.0
Lmfaoooo https://t.co/cytlNYVYIK— Kristina Nixon (Saroli) (@Kristina Nixon (Saroli))1613422209.0
womp womp. and while we're at it, I'd like may last four years back. https://t.co/Vi25TfAvWf— crystal white (@crystal white)1613422687.0
Those outside of the election fraud conspiracy sphere weren't surprised to learn that a grift was afoot.
Shocked Shocked I say https://t.co/dsd1I0OVuj— Dani Cantle (@Dani Cantle)1613422867.0
Uhm duh? Further proving rich does not equal smart. https://t.co/a8yQl4WXzJ— John Martillini (@John Martillini)1613425046.0
I mean, who could have guessed? https://t.co/Dh3vrHmcf6— Will Savage (@Will Savage)1613420220.0
A recent study found that over 70 percent of Republicans still believe the lie that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from Donald Trump.