The same election denialism that fueled the violent January 6th attack persisted through the 2022 election cycle, thanks to MAGA conservatives’ extremist candidates who led baseless election lawsuits and peddled conspiracy theories in races across the country.
A standout: Kari Lake, who not only continues to dispute her own loss in Arizona but is also busy ginning up support for the election denial movement in other states.
Yet, as much as our democracy stands to lose thanks to the “Big Lie,” some have personally benefited from promoting the conspiracy. Accountable.US’ new report reveals that a number of prominent conservatives have made a cottage industry out of fraudulent election challenges.
While these operatives have profited from their influence in races across the nation, Arizona is home to two of the biggest grifters: attorney Kurt Olsen and newly-elected state senator Jake Hoffman. Our report details how these members of Kari Lake’s kitchen cabinet profited off of election denial:
Kurt Olsen, Lawyer for the Kari Lake Campaign
Although Kurt Olsen has recently become infamous for propping up Kari Lake’s unfounded claims of fraud in her race for governor, he’s made his name grifting off of election deniers for years.
After a stint as a “virtually unknown” attorney at the New York-based law firm Klafter, Olsen & Lesser, Olsen made his first conspiracy cash supporting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s efforts to press the Supreme Court to intervene on behalf of Trump in the 2020 election. Although the Supreme Court quickly threw out Paxton’s case, it became a blueprint for Republicans across the country to contest Biden’s victory.
Since then, Olsen has continued to profit from the “Big Lie” by backing other fraudulent claims in court. In 2021, Olsen joined Alan Dershowitz to represent a group of Michigan poll challengers suing Dominion Voting Systems, a voting machine company central to disproven conspiracies surrounding the 2020 election. The case was ultimately dismissed due to a lack of credible standing.
Olsen’s legal efforts weren’t any more successful in his time with Kari Lake’s campaign, but he certainly walked away with more than a few pennies for his time. In addition to leading Lake’s lawsuit to overturn her election loss, Olsen represented Lake in another lawsuit to prohibit electronic voting machines in Arizona’s 2022 election. Federal Judge John J. Tuchi dismissed the case in August 2022 – and sanctioned Olsen and the rest of Lake’s legal team for filing the suit in the first place.
In a blistering opinion, Tuchi wrote:
Lake’s lawyers had acted 'recklessly' and accused them of 'furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process.”
Even after his loss in court, the Kari Lake campaign paid Olsen more than $187,000 in attorney fees as Lake continued to repeat unfounded claims of fraud.
Where is he now? Olsen currently represents MyPillow CEO and Trump confidante Mike Lindell in his lawsuit against the federal government following the seizure of Lindell’s cell phone in a 2020 election-related criminal probe.
Jake Hoffman, Arizona State Senator
When Arizona State Senator Jake Hoffman endorsed Kari Lake for governor, he earned not just a political ally — but also a lucrative chance to cash in on her conspiracies.
Hoffman, who chairs the right-wing Arizona Freedom Caucus, also owns 1TEN Management. During the 2022 election, the company made big bucks from several Lake-affiliated PACs and entities, including:
- $2.1 million from Put Arizona First, a pro-Lake PAC
- $256,517 from Turning Point USA for “media” and “text services”.
- $135,000 from the Kari Lake Campaign Committee, paid to 1TEN the day before the 2022 election
Even after the governor’s race was called for Democrat Katie Hobbs, Hoffman kept parroting Lake’s fraudulent claims that the election was stolen – including in a Reuters interview that was later promoted by a Lake campaign-linked account. Hoffman also made an appearance on Turning Point president Charlie Kirk’s podcast to spew similar lies after the organization paid 1TEN for media services.
There is no question in my mind that [the Arizona governor’s race] should be certified by [Arizona governor] Doug Ducey, and it should not be certified by Katie Hobbs.”
AZ State Senator Jake Hoffman [The Charlie Kirk Show, 11/23/22]
Why did Hoffman continue to choose election denialism over democracy? 1TEN’s receipts tell the full story: Hoffman kept raking in cash from Lake’s campaign for “telemarketing services” even as she spread conspiracies about her loss.
For grifters like Olsen and Hoffman, not even an attempted insurrection would stand in the way of them making a quick buck. As long as the “Big Lie” lives on, election deniers like these will continue to cash in on efforts to undermine our democracy and wield power in top GOP circles, state legislatures, and beyond.