Here’s some news, about Donald Trump’s racket of claiming the election was stolen so that he can raise gobs of money: It’s working.
It’s working extremely well here in Washington state.
I took a look through the local side of Trump’s fundraising juggernaut for the first half of 2021. It consists of political committees he’s been flogging for months now as a way to fight the mythical “election fraud” that he insists will be discovered any day now — provided you keep smashing that “donate now” button.
It turns out this is surprisingly effective. Trump — though out of office and not currently running for anything — raised more money during the first half of 2021 from Washington residents than any other Republican politician, here or elsewhere, according to Federal Election Commission data.
It shows the Godzilla-sized sway Trump maintains over the base of the Republican party, despite it all. His two PACs received more than 14,000 itemized donations totaling $697,700 from donors with Washington state addresses in just the past six months.
This is more than local GOP Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler ($247,000 from Washington state donors), Cathy McMorris Rodgers ($197,000) and Dan Newhouse ($80,000) raised from state residents, combined. And they’re all up for election in 2022, while Trump may never be up for election again.
Trump’s stolen election scheme is “probably the most lucrative thing he’s had in terms of cash flow since the Plaza casino in Atlantic City,” a Trump biographer, Tim O’Brien, told The Washington Post recently.
He’s certainly milking it. I’m on Trump’s fundraising lists, and so I get the constant pitches, fueled on grievance about how he’s the rightful president. Some are righteous: “Only Trump can win the fight to SECURE OUR ELECTIONS!” And some pathetic: “We’ve emailed you 13x. Fail to respond = Trump knows you’ve abandoned him.”
Somehow this contrived psychodrama about a rigged election is still gold — even here, where, nine months later, there have been no cases of fraud found related to the 2020 election. And where numerous local recounts in King, Snohomish and San Juan counties, paid for by Republicans last winter, uncovered nothing amiss.
Personally, I get why Republicans may have backed Trump financially at one time. Despite the always high risk he may be conning you, he was, back then, the top dog of conservative policy and politics. But then he lost. He also ignited a crackpot rebellion that stormed the Capitol and embarrassed himself as the sorest loser by refusing to attend the inauguration. So why throw good money, now, after bad?
People keep on believing, though. The top local Trump donor this year is Seattleite George Petrie, CEO of Goodman Real Estate, who has given $2,800 to Trump each month this year, starting three weeks after the Jan. 6 fiasco at the Capitol.
This donation is notable for another reason: Petrie is the top donor to an independent expenditure campaign supporting Bruce Harrell for Seattle mayor, as well as a max contributor to Harrell’s campaign. Petrie has a long history of donating to both sides — last year he gave to Democrat Jay Inslee and also to Republican Loren Culp in the governor’s race. But still — it’s awkward, in blue Seattle, that Trump’s number one booster in the state, post-insurrection, is also Harrell’s top backer. It’s a terrible political look for Harrell.
The other development in the lucrative stolen election racket is how many local mini-me types are mimicking Trump.
There’s Culp, who’s now running for Congress in Central Washington’s 4th District, and still maintaining he was cheated out of the 2020 governor’s election.
“We believe the election was not legitimate,” his campaign director, Chris Gergen, insisted again last week in a video conference, but offering, again, zero evidence. Like Trump, Culp is trying to raise money off this fake grievance, but so far the PAC he set up for it has brought in only $5,185 (though I bet that money was important to someone).
Then there’s “prepare for war” conspiracy theorist Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, who is pushing for a postelection “forensic audit” here similar to the Cyber Ninja circus down in Arizona. But if you click the “donate now” button at the “Audit WA” website, you get directed not to a fund for an audit but to … Friends of Sutherland, his own state House campaign account.
Finally, Tim Eyman has of course decided to chase this same ambulance as well. He announced at a GOP picnic on Sunday that he’s working on bringing seven “voter integrity” initiatives to the ballot in seven states.
“There is very little faith in our election system right now and we must restore that,” Eyman said.
If there is very little faith, it was mendaciously eroded not by facts but by the same people now attempting to profit from it. Trump is ripping off his own supporters, and these wannabes are gleefully following down the same path.
It’s a sorry testament to the damage Trump has caused the GOP in Washington state that the party isn’t calling this out for the total scam that it is.