It’s a right-wing conspiracy theory so stupid that even Bill Barr, former President Donald Trump’s slavishly loyal attorney general, laughed it off. And now the group of grifters behind the “2000 Mules” election lies could be on the hook legally.
It’s possible you have no clue what I’m talking about, so let’s bring you up to speed.
After Trump’s decisive loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 election, a right-wing nonprofit group known as True the Vote began spreading baseless claims that widespread fraud swung the election in Biden’s favor. Some of the most outlandish claims were spread through a debunked film — titled “2000 Mules” — that the organization produced in collaboration with right-wing conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud in 2014 and was pardoned by Trump four years later.
The film falsely claims that 2,000 paid operatives stuffed ballot boxes in battleground states with thousands of fake, pro-Biden absentee ballots. Multiple lawsuits and investigations have exposed the film’s claims as utter nonsense — including in Arizona, where Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, has now asked the FBI and the IRS to investigate True the Vote.
Oh, how the tables have turned.
In a letter Friday to federal authorities, Brnovich’s office said “further review” of True The Vote’s finances may be needed after the organization raised money off of demonstrably false claims. Brnovich had been an avowed Trump backer for years leading up to 2020, but he has become a pariah to avid supporters of the ex-president after refusing to help overturn the presidential election results in Arizona.
In the letter, his office claimed that True the Vote lied about having provided evidence of Arizona election fraud to state investigators. Specifically, the AG’s office says two leaders in the organization, Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, made public claims about election fraud but failed to provide proof in multiple meetings with state investigators.
“Prior to each meeting with TTV, Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips stated they would provide us with the information to support their allegations,” the letter reads. “Despite repeated requests, TTV never did provide the information it purported to have in its possession.”
Brnovich’s office said True the Vote repeatedly told the public that it had turned over the evidence, even though officials from the organization privately admitted that it wasn’t true.
“Not only is this patently false,” the letter says about public claims of proof, “TTV acknowledged via correspondence and during a meeting with them that they had not given us the information but that they would.”
In other words, they seem to have misled their donors.
After the letter dropped, both D’Souza and True the Vote posted social media messages responding angrily to the allegations … without actually providing any evidence to the contrary.
Several Arizona Republicans, including gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, have all parroted the false claims at the heart of “2000 Mules” and used them as the basis for a crusade against voting rights.
Brnovich’s letter just reiterates what we’ve known for nearly two years now: The GOP’s election fraud claims are nothing more than a potentially criminal method of amassing money and power.