It was eight days ago when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed a truly ludicrous lawsuit in the hopes of overturning the 2020 presidential election. It was seven days ago when most of the nation's other Republican attorneys general -- 17 in all -- embarrassed themselves by attaching their names to the ill-fated litigation.
And it was five days ago when one of those Republican AGs started using the effort as part of a fundraising campaign. The Daily Beast reported yesterday:
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt was one of 17 state AGs that asked the Supreme Court to effectively overturn the 2020 election. On the same day that the court tossed the case, Schmitt's campaign committee began running advertisements on Google directing visitors to the campaign's page on the GOP fundraising platform WinRed. [...] The sums that Schmitt's team spent on the ads are relatively small -- $100 or less for each of the three that ran on Friday. But they further illustrate the degree to which the Trump-led attempts to challenge the election results -- no matter how far-fetched they may be -- have turned into veritable cash cows for office-holders associated with them.
"Missouri will defend election integrity at every turn," the state AG's appeal read. "Donate today to help!"
The fundraising appeal is itself distasteful. As Missouri's Eric Schmitt and his team no doubt knew, the recent anti-election litigation was ridiculous -- a fact that would not be changed by generous contributions from unsuspected donors.
But the pitch is emblematic of a larger issue: some Republicans, including the one in the Oval Office, see the baseless attacks on our democracy as sources of political revenue.
Indeed, The Daily Beast article added, "Similar state-level political fundraising efforts have invoked Trump's cause in attempts to solicit contributions, even as their own stake in the supposed election fraud conspiracy is at best tenuous. The Republican Party of Florida has sought to invoke GOP complaints about supposed election irregularities to fill its own coffers, despite Trump having won the state."
It's an ugly one-two punch: Republicans start by convincing their base there were problems with the election, which is followed by a request for money, as if the donations might somehow undo the problems that don't exist in reality.
The result is a profoundly unhealthy set of incentives: many GOP officials in key offices are under the impression that lying about the election is a lucrative enterprise. Between Nov. 3 and Dec. 3, Donald Trump's operation raised more than $207 million, largely because the outgoing president bombarded his followers with claims about imagined "fraud."
Is it any wonder Missouri's attorney general wanted take advantage of the apparent opportunity?