ACE Act pushed by network of groups involved in Big Lie
WASHINGTON, DC – As the House Administration Committee holds a markup of the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act, government watchdog Accountable.US released a new report exposing the right-wing influence network behind the ACE Act, the election-denying witnesses, and the shady connections to conservative kingpin Leonard Leo.
Leonard Leo’s dark influence network propping up the ACE Act shows that its real goal is voter suppression, not increasing confidence in elections,” said Kyle Herrig, Accountable.US senior advisor. “This is just another embarrassing, partisan stunt from Chairman Steil and the MAGA House Administration Committee.”
A coalition of Leo-linked groups — most notably the Honest Elections Project (HEP) — is backing the bill’s voting restrictions, which include new voter ID and voter roll purge requirements. HEP was involved in numerous legal challenges in the run-up to the 2020 election, challenging efforts to expand access to voting in key swing states and pushing the independent state legislature theory.
Another key ACE Act provision is the bill’s ban on nonprofit donor disclosure, a long-term priority of Leo and his billionaire backers. An Accountable.US review found that Leo has propped up a group opposing donor disclosure, People United for Privacy, since its founding in 2017.
The House Administration Committee also tapped election-denying “expert witnesses” closely connected to Leo as they drafted the legislation, including:
- Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), lead sponsor of the ACE Act, who has benefited from $5,000 in spending by the American Conservative Union, which is backed by Leo’s 85 Fund. Steil has also proudly touted an A+ rating from the Leo-funded Susan B. Anthony List.
- Hans von Spakovsky, a director at the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF). PILF has received major funding from the Leo-tied 85 Fund, has counted “close” Leo ally Neil Corkery as its chief financial officer, has disclosed Leo network figure Shawna Powell as its secretary, and has had other Leo-tied election conspiracists like John Eastman and Cleta Powell in its leadership.
- Harmeet K. Dhillon, who represented Trump in disputing the 2020 election and has testified in support of the ACE Act, is chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association (which counts Leo’s Concord Fund as one of its two “gold sponsors”) and was co-chair of Lawyers for Trump (which counted Leo among its “key leaders”).
- Ken Cuccinelli has testified in support of the ACE Act as national chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative (ETI), which appears to have benefited from dramatically-increased funding from Leo’s Concord Fund the year it was launched.