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Election denial has become big business for the Republicans

Right-wing firms made a killing by offering to help election-denying conspiracy theorists run for secretaries of state in 2020, according to a new report.


One of the key reasons there should be stiff punishments handed down to people who try to overturn or undermine elections is simple: If people don't see consequences for waging these efforts, they’re likely to continue. (Hint hint, Merrick Garland.)

A report published Tuesday by the election watchdog group Issue One helps puts some of the perverse incentives behind election denialism in focus. 

The report highlights right-wing firms and other businesses that received thousands of dollars from conspiracy theorists who ran — some successfully, others unsuccessfully — for secretary of state last year in their respective states. 

Of the 12 election-denying secretary of state candidates whom Issue One highlighted in its analysis, Arizona’s failed GOP nominee Mark Finchem spent the most with roughly $2 million in campaign expenditures. (Notably, more than half of the donations to his campaign were reportedly from out-of-state contributors.)

Finchem, you’ll remember, tried to ban voting machines in Arizona, and has advocated for ending mail-in voting despite the fact that he’s voted by mail more than two dozen times.

So which firm benefited most from Finchem’s business?

The firm Go Right Strategies, which is run by a nephew of Wendy Rogers — a far-right Arizona state senator with ties to white nationalists. Finchem's campaign paid the company around $1.5 million, according to the report. And it's just one example of the financially incestuous world of right-wing election denialism. Finchem spent more than $53,000 at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last year, more than any other candidate highlighted in this report.

Issue One also found that another right-wing firm, McShane LLC, raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars from these anti-democratic candidates, including nearly $500,000 from failed Nevada candidate Jim Marchant and around $200,000 from Chuck Gray, who won his race in Wyoming in November.

The report also found that failed Michigan secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo paid out $400,000 to the firm Patriotic Strategic Group, formed just last year, for advertising.

The report — an easy read at just a few pages — is definitely worth your time. The GOP has made its anti-democratic crusade into a profitable endeavor, and this report shows how and for whom.