Washington, D.C. — Government watchdog Accountable.US released a new report1501960 ing the top corporate donors of the Pennsylvania politicians pushing for election audits and peddling baseless 2020 election conspiracies, including those connected to extremist groups and with histories of anti-vaccine rhetoric.
The report focuses on state representatives Doug Mastriano, Rob Kaufman, and Cris Dush, who attended a sham election ‘audit’ in Maricopa County, Arizona earlier this year and have since joined far-right state-level officials across the country requesting similar taxpayer-funded audits in their home states. Accountable.US called on the corporations and trade associations that have supported the campaigns of these representatives to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars to explain whether these extreme values align with their own.
“These fringe representatives are willing to undermine our democracy just to score political points with the twice-impeached former president by keeping his Big Lie alive,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “They would rather fan the flames of insurrection by spreading unhinged conspiracy theories than accept the will of the people. It is clear that no amount of evidence that the election was fair will satisfy those who are acting in bad faith. The question is: why haven’t the corporations that have supported these anti-democratic representatives in the past condemned their rhetoric?”
While their demands are outlandish, this isn’t the first time these state-level officials have put their constituents on the backburner to spread harmful conspiracy theories:
- Doug Mastriano: Mastriano was asked to resign by colleagues in the Pennsylvania Senate, as well as non-profit Common Cause Pennsylvania, after he encouraged and organized his supporters to attend the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, going as far as using his own campaign funds to pay for buses to shuttle people from Pennsylvania to D.C. He visited the Maricopa County ‘audit’ site and has since called for similar efforts. Mastriano is a member of the far-right movement and has appeared on a QAnon talk show, pushing conspiracy theories about how governors wanted to use COVID-19 to destroy their states. Mastriano has posted debunked anti-vaccine propaganda on his personal social media accounts, and even published an op-ed trying to explain why people should be skeptical of not just the COVID-19 vaccine, but vaccines in general.
- Rob Kaufman: After touring the ‘audit’ site in Maricopa County, Kaufman returned to Pennsylvania impressed by the efforts and began making requests for an audit to be conducted in the state. Kaufman, an ally to right-wing militia groups, was a keynote speaker at a gun rights rally where a prominent local militia, whose logo appears to have white supremacist ties, was in attendance. Kaufman has also been an enemy to the LGBTQ community by opposing equitable treatment to be recognized under the law.
- Cris Dush: Dush has continued to push Trump’s Big Lie, going as far as trying to overturn Pennsylvania’s results in the presidential election and calling on state officials to withdraw Pennsylvania’s certification of presidential electors. He called for a special session in an attempt to raise doubts about election security, and was part of the group that visited the ‘audit’ site in Maricopa County, Arizona. Dush has appeared at multiple events with militia groups clad in white supremacist iconography, including a group started by Larry Pratt, considered the father of the modern right wing militia movement. Dush compared Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 response to “Hitler’s Nazi regime.” Dush promoted an interview by disgraced Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who is currently facing sanctions for making false claims in court filings as she tried to overturn the results of the election. Dush also uplifted a fake “social media site” where prominent conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Mike Lindell pushed disinformation about the 2020 election and COVID-19.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.
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