A couple of days after Joe Biden was declared the president-elect, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced that he'd be willing to pay up to $1 million as a reward to those who could produce proof of voter fraud. Even at the time, this seemed unwise.
As we've discussed, the Texas Republican was effectively arguing that he and his party assumed there was widespread fraud, but they couldn't prove it, so he hoped financial rewards would produce evidence GOP conspiracy theorists couldn't find on their own. Patrick was basically telling the public, "We can't back up our talking points, so I'll pay you to help."
But it wasn't long before a related problem emerged. While the Republican lieutenant governor seemed to assume that bounty hunters would find evidence of Democratic fraud — he explicitly pointed to Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, without offering any proof — actual evidence pointed to a handful of instances in which Donald Trump supporters cast illegal ballots in key 2020 battlegrounds.
In Pennsylvania, for example, Robert Richard Lynn pleaded guilty after getting caught trying to cast a vote for his dead mother. Bruce Bartman, another Pennsylvania Republican, was caught doing the same thing. The Washington Post highlighted a related case in May involving Ralph Thurman, a Trump supporter accused of trying to cast his son's vote, who also eventually pleaded guilty.
It wasn't long before folks — including me — wondered aloud whether Texas's Dan Patrick would ever follow through on his financial-reward system. As it turns out, we now have an answer. The Dallas Morning News reported today:
Nearly a year after offering up a hefty bounty for evidence of voter fraud in the wake of Donald Trump's loss, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has handed out his first reward. But instead of going to an informant who smoked out fraud by Democrats, Patrick's five-figure payout went to a progressive poll worker in Pennsylvania whose tip led to a single conviction of illegal voting by a registered Republican.
Evidently, the progressive poll worker in Pennsylvania was a man named Eric Frank who uncovered Ralph Thurman's illegal gambit — and who sought a financial reward set up by the Texas lieutenant governor.
Patrick isn't paying Frank a cool million, but the Pennsylvanian did receive a check for $25,000. He told the Morning News, "It's my belief that they were trying to get cases of Democrats doing voter fraud. And that just wasn't the case. This kind of blew up in their face."
The newspaper's report added, "With few strings attached, and more cases of alleged GOP voting fraud still in Pennsylvania courts, Patrick may be asked to shell out even more cash to his opponents."