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Arizona 'fake elector' indictments make it tough for Turning Point USA's 'election integrity' push

The far-right organization that's embraced Donald Trump's election fraud lies is being rocked by election fraud scandals.


Turning Point USA, the extremist-friendly, Donald Trump-loving organization for MAGA youth, is having one of its worst weeks yet from a public relations perspective. 

And this is an organization that’s made a habit of backing losing candidates and whose leader is known to rant against Martin Luther King Jr., so this is a sign things have truly gone off the rails. 

Last week, Arizona state Rep. Austin Smith, a Republican and a senior director at TPUSA’s nonprofit arm Turning Point Action, suspended his re-election campaign after accusations of election fraud. Smith is accused of forging signatures to qualify for re-election, a charge he called "silly" in the announcement ending his campaign. It's a seeming act of karmic justice, given he’s shamelessly peddled the right-wing conspiracy theory that Maricopa County officials have fraudulently altered ballot signatures to Republicans’ detriment. 

But the election fraud allegations looming over TPUSA don’t end there. 

Less than a week later, two men with deep ties to the organization are among the 11 "fake electors" (18 people in total) who were indicted in Arizona over their alleged role in the Trump campaign’s so-called fake elector scheme. That was the harebrained 2020 election plot that involved conservatives in states that Joe Biden won sending "alternate" slates of electors to Congress on the false premise that Trump had won them instead.

One of those accused is Tyler Bowyer, a Turning Point higher-up who has rankled conservatives online with his TPUSA chest-beating. Bowyer is chief operating officer for Turning Point Action, and he’s a committeeman for the Republican National Committee, as well. Interestingly, he tried — and failed — to pass a resolution earlier this year that would have obligated the RNC to pay fake electors’ legal bills. How prescient. And though he’s yet to address the charges on social media, his boss, TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk, is claiming the indictment is a political hit job. On X, Kirk said Bowyer and others involved in the fake elector scheme were just doing things liberals have done in past elections. (If you feel like you've heard that before, that's because it's a conservative talking point that’s been debunked many times over.)

Nonetheless, that characterization goes a little bit further than the Arizona GOP’s defense: It has said the charges "represent a blatant and unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial power" and "are clearly designed to silence dissent and weaponize the law against political opponents." The party also posted video of the fake electors signing the fake Electoral College votes in December 2020, and that video is still online.

The second Turning Point associate charged in Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes’ indictment is state Sen. Jake Hoffman, a Turning Point USA affiliate and contractor known for leading disinformation campaigns in the past. Hoffman is a member of Arizona’s ultraconservative Freedom Caucus. On social media, he said he is “innocent of any crime” and that the investigation is an example of “political persecution.”

All in all, it's been a pretty bad week for an organization that wants to be seen as the driving force of today’s conservative movement. Turning Point USA members and affiliates have been tireless in spreading Trump's fact-free claims of widespread election fraud. Selling their bogus “election integrity” schtick to the masses was always going to be difficult. And it’s even more difficult now that a bunch of their high-level organizers are facing a trial on charges of election crimes.