Trump Supporter Mocked for Seeking Refund of Millions He Donated to Help Uncover Voter Fraud in 2020 Election
Rude awakenings can be embarrassing and well, a bit shocking. Which perhaps is where the term “rude” comes from. But one ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump could hardly believe his ears when he heard Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election.
Fred Eshelman was skeptical. Trump’s lead in crucial battleground states vanished in a heartbeat. So the very next day, the North Carolina financier and his advisers contacted a small conservative nonprofit organization in Texas that was looking to expose voter fraud, The Washington Post reports. A brief 20-minute discussion with the group’s president was exactly everything Eshelman wanted to hear.
“I’m in for 2″ he told the president of True The Vote, court documents, interviews with Eshelman, and others say.
$200,000?” asked one adviser who participated in the call.
“$2 million,” Eshelman responded.
But it only took him 12 days to regret his decision. He’d begun to realize conspiracy theories about illegal voting weren’t all they were cracked up to be, court documents and interviews say.
And no, he’s not happy. Eshelman wants his money back.
But if you untangle his donation story, you’ll find insights into the panicky days after the election. Baseless claims convinced donors to give hundreds of millions of dollars to flip President Joe Biden’s election.
Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party hauled in a cool $255 million in just two months and said the money would be used to fund legal challenges to an election where fraud was allegedly rampant. Trump’s most ardent allies in Congress also profited at this falsely fatted calf, as did pro-Trump lawyers hoping to overturn the election results. Heck, even some of their so-called “witnesses” allegedly profited.
And True The Vote was just one of several “election integrity” groups vying to press the case in court. Sure they were smaller potatoes than the lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign, the group nevertheless hoped to raise at least $7 million to investigate the 2020 election.
As the entire world knows now, Trump’s efforts to flip the election were fruitless. His team filed 62 lawsuits which resulted in 61 losses and one minor win, USAToday reports. Efforts were made to encourage legislatures to take action, and protests were organized. Hearings took place.
None of that worked. Absolutely none of it. In Eshelman’s litigation, documents have surfaced, as have interviews and all of this shows how True The Vote’s promises that it was on the verge of revealing illegal election schemes cratered as the group’s focus bounced from allegation to allegation.
Eshelman has filed two lawsuits against True The Vote— one of which was filed in federal court but subsequently withdrawn, while the other one is being heard in a Texas state court. The complaints contend that True The Vote did not spend his $2 million gift and additional $500,000 the way it claimed it would. He also alleges the group funneled much of that money to its president, Catherine Engelbrecht.
Pressed about the shifting focus from one allegation to another, Engelbrecht snapped:
“A good thorough investigation takes the course it takes, and we were not going to expose whistleblowers to make a quick headline,” she said. Then she claimed the group’s investigation “is ongoing even now.”
In court documents, the group contends Eshelman’s money was spent properly.
It’s entirely understandable that the elderly financier wants his money back, but it appears that True The Vote isn’t playing nice. James Bopp, a lawyer for the group said there weren’t any conditions attached to Eshelman’s contributions and he’s not entitled to be reimbursed just because he’s unhappy with the outcome.
The court documents and interviews show that it didn’t take long for Eshelman and his colleagues to become embittered by True The Vote.
“We were just not getting any data or proof,” said Tom Crawford, who previously worked as a lobbyist for Eshelman and was his representative on the True the Vote effort. “We were looking at this and saying to ourselves, this is just not adding up.”
Eshelman, 72, and the founder of a drug company had never heard of True the Vote prior to Election Day. Now a financier, his firm invests in health-care companies, and he himself has donated to free-market initiatives and groups that have attacked Democratic candidates in the past.
Suffice it to say that when Biden rocketed past Trump, which really wasn’t news to election experts as mail-in ballots were tallied, Eshelman asked Crawford for advice to see if an operation could be funded to determine if widespread fraud had actually happened.
“I thought about the range of possibilities around vote fraud,” he told the Post. “There was already noise around cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.”
“I wanted to determine if this was legit,” he added. “Can we find a real smoking gun?”
And as the whole world knows, there was no “smoking gun.” Instead, there were millions of Americans working and doing their utmost to get a corrupt monster out of office. Considering that this a man who works against Democrats, perhaps he’s just getting what he deserves.
It’s safe to say that social media wasn’t feeling bad for Mr. Eshelman:
WAPO: Trump and the Republican Party collected $255 million from credulous imbeciles in the 2 months after the election. It was supposed to be used to prove voter fraud. Now financier Fred Eshelman is suing to get his $2.5 mil back. Fred, you’re an idiot. Fuck off.
— LiberalNavySeal (@LiberalNavySeal) February 15, 2021
If this mark joined together with all the other victims, GOP would disappear that afternoon! pic.twitter.com/K7Jx4Hg6Dk
— OK All I Need To Find is 11,780 Votes NOW! (@SKeithPryor) February 15, 2021
We are all shocked I tell you, shocked that there was fraud committed while trying to find fraud that was not committed. What was the money supposed to do? Create fraud where there was none? or find fraud? All the company has to do is say, we found no fraud, it is their money.
— Party of Fear (@kdevil66) February 15, 2021
It was obvious to everyone that this money was going straight to Trump. I'm amazed that someone who could be successful enough to donate $2.5 M would be so gullible.
— AnnieB (@AnnieBSoCal) February 15, 2021
Fred Eshelman. He gave $2.5 million of his own money to find "voter fraud" in the 2020 election. Now, he wants it back. Fred Eshelman. You're typical dumb as a rock Republican Fox viewer Trump supporter. You gotta laugh.
— CheshamWood (@MalintaHill) February 15, 2021
Fred Eshelman: “I want my $2.5 mil. back!”
Voter fraud PAC: “What money?”
Eshelman: “My money!”
VF PAC: “Aw, gee, Fred, (pulling pants pockets out) we don’t have it. Are you sure we got it?”
Eshelman: “You damn right you do!”
VF PAC: “Call Lindsay.” https://t.co/oMfgbSsz4B
— John Martinson🌹 (@RealJKMartinson) February 15, 2021
Oh, darn… poor Fred Eshelman. It's almost like 99.999999% of donalds supporters didn't do their due diligence before trusting the well-known con artist with their money. Soooo sadddddd. Poor baby. He can go cry with Maghan McCain, her feefees hurt too! https://t.co/CYf5CwH18K
— Khaleesi (@aishlingmara) February 15, 2021