This Lawsuit Could Rip the Covers Off the Eternal Grift That Is Conservative Politics in America

Charles P. Pierce
·3-min read
Photo credit: Andrew Lichtenstein - Getty Images
Photo credit: Andrew Lichtenstein - Getty Images

From Esquire

Those of us old enough to remember the Obama Administration were intrigued by the Washington Post’s saga of one of America’s most notable suckers, a guy who seems to be living out the last five minutes of Trading Places.

The next day, the North Carolina financier and his advisers reached out to a small conservative nonprofit group in Texas that was seeking to expose voter fraud. After a 20-minute talk with the group’s president, their first conversation, Eshelman was sold. “I’m in for 2,” he told the president of True the Vote, according to court documents and interviews with Eshelman and others. “$200,000?” one of his advisers on the call asked.

“$2 million,” Eshelman responded … Now, he wants his money back.

I’m not legal mind enough to know whether this guy has a real criminal case for fraud. It’s possible that he does. But I do know that this lawsuit has the potential to rip the covers off the eternal grift that is conservative politics in America, something that appealed to the innate carnivore’s instincts of the most recent former president*.

Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party collected $255 million in two months, saying the money would support legal challenges to an election marred by fraud. Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress also raised money off those false allegations, as did pro-Trump lawyers seeking to overturn the election results — and even some of their witnesses. True the Vote was one of several conservative “election integrity” groups that sought to press the case in court. Though its lawsuits drew less attention than those brought by the Trump campaign, True the Vote nonetheless sought to raise more than $7 million for its investigation of the 2020 election.

Ah, True the Vote. We remember those little scamps. They were born back in the day when the Republicans were doing all those things for which we excoriate Trumps, but without Donald Trump. TTV was born out of the ongoing voter-suppression efforts that had become essential to Republican politics, and which remain so to this day. It came to prominence by promoting spurious “voter fraud” charges in the 2012 elections. It was the brainchild of a woman named Catherine Engelbrecht, and it was central not only to the thriving “voter fraud” fantasy, but also to the so-called IRS “targeting scandal,” in which the Obama administration was accused of singling out conservative groups for the tax man’s special attention. This scam was highly effective at feeding politically useful—and very lucrative—conspiracy theories on which the Republican Party was all-in throughout the Obama Administration. Did it start with Trump? Please to be pulling the other leg now.

So Mr. Eshelman now wants his money back, because he threw it down one of the oldest established permanent floating ratholes in American politics.

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.

I feel for the guy. I think he should pursue these cases to the very legal limits, and then he should pursue them some more. Go, Eshelman, go. Make ‘em pay. Get it while you can.

You Might Also Like