Ultra-Right Mega-Donors Are Financing Election Denial Operations

Kari Lake and Glenn Youngkin

Youtube Screenshot

In an article published on November 3, the Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger reported that “nearly 80 percent” of the $1.7 million that right-wing shipping magnates Dick and Elizabeth Uihlein donated to Republican candidates “between January 7, 2021 and August 31, 2022” went to “campaigns or committees tied to the 147 Republicans who voted, on January 6, (2021), to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory.” But their fondness for MAGA election denialists, according to Sollenberger, goes beyond donations.

Now Sollenberger, writing for the Beast in an article published on November 28, reports that in 2021, Arizona Republican Party Vice Chair Gina Swoboda was hired as executive director for “the Uihlein-backed dark money nonprofit Restoration Action Inc.” Her salary was $108,750 per year.

“Swoboda, a former Trump campaign official and the vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party, is now leading a misguided charge against the ballot count in that state on behalf of GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake,” Sollenberger explains. “Swoboda currently serves as ‘election integrity’ coordinator for Lake, whose repeated false claims of voter fraud have ingratiated her to former President Donald Trump and who still refuses to acknowledge her election loss to (Democratic Arizona Secretary of State) Katie Hobbs.”

The Beast reporter continues, “After the election, Lake promoted Swoboda’s appearance on a right-wing podcast. In addition to hiring Swoboda, the filing shows Restoration Action’s accounts swelling for the second year in a row. According to the filing, in the 12 months following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Restoration Action’s revenue topped $20.5 million — double what the group raised in 2020, and light years beyond its $64,000 haul in 2019.”

Sollenberger notes that Restoration Action is “tied to the larger Restoration of America network, funded almost exclusively by the Uihleins.”

Brendan Fischer, who serves as deputy executive director of the watchdog group Documented, told the Beast, “Restoration Action is a hub for election denial, including funding some of the key players pushing election falsehoods in Arizona at the moment. This is a reminder that there’s big money behind the push to undermine democracy. Through Restoration Action and other entities, an array of groups pushing election conspiracy theories are backed by literally tens of millions of dollars from just one billionaire couple.”

Restoration America, according to Sollenberger, “also threw $600,000 to the super PAC affiliated with January 6 rally organizer Tea Party Patriots” and “another $1.5 million…. to the Lawyers Democracy Fund, a conservative dark money group that advocates for changes in election law.”

“The group sent another half a million to Fight Voter Fraud, which has also pushed baseless claims of election malfeasance, including in 2021,” Sollenberger reports. “Another recipient, the Liberty Initiative Fund, donated $675,000 to a group fighting for more restrictive voter ID requirements in Michigan. That Michigan group raised $2.2 million total, with $1.5 million coming from Uihlein himself.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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World Central Kitchen Rebounds In Ukraine After Russian Missile Strike

World Central Kitchen CEO Nate Mook and staffer Vera in Kharkiv, Ukraine

A relief kitchen in eastern Ukraine that has been partnering with Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) organization was leveled by Russian invaders, wounding several workers, the organization’s CEO said on Saturday. Nate Mook said in a video posted to Twitter that he’s told one person in the surrounding area was killed from the missile strike.

The organization has fed an untold number of people since its founding more than a decade ago. “It’s the first time, in the 12 years since WCK was founded, that one of its relief kitchens has come under attack. It’s also the first time WCK has operated in a war zone,” The Washington Postreported.

“Not too long ago, a missile hit here, and as you can see, tremendous amounts of damage,” Mook said in the video. Behind him is the shell of building. “This was a big hit as you can see,” he continues. “There’s over a dozen cars burned out all around me,” he says, scanning the camera over to show pieces of vehicles visible in what remains of a tree. “Just a tremendous amount of carnage left behind for no reason,” noting that the area is home to many. “I don’t know what else to say. Just absolutely horrific brutality.”

Mook on Sunday shared a picture featuring three of the hospitalized workers, saying they were recovering well following the missile attack. ”Yulia—next to me—said she’s excited to come back to help feed 1000s once her burns heal.” He also wrote that the partnering restaurant, Yaposhka, was working to move equipment that had not been destroyed to a new kitchen.

Andrés had announced just hours into Russia’s unprovoked invasion that he would be traveling to Poland to aid displaced refugees. Responding to Mook’s tweets, he vowed to continue the mission. “To everyone caring and sending good wishes to the team in Kharkiv, thank you, the injured are fine, and everyone is ready and willing to start cooking in another location,” he tweeted.

On Tuesday, Mook said that not only had the Yaposhka team opened at a new site, the injured workers had also been released from the hospital.

Since traveling to this war zone to aid in humanitarian efforts, WCK’s #ChefsForUkraine effort had distributed nearly 300,000 daily meals as of early April, the organization said. The effort has distributed meals “in more than 30 cities and towns across Ukraine, as well as delivering thousands of tons of food and supplies by truck and train.”

{Profits from sales of our "I Stand With Ukraine' T-shirt will go to World Central Kitchen.]

That has included delivering supplies to towns liberated by Ukrainian soldiers. WCK said that humanitarian workers were the first faces that civilians trapped outside Kyiv had seen for a month. “We brought hundreds of hot meals and 6,000 kilos of food for families to cook.”

Andrés’ efforts in Poland has also continued, and expanded to neighboring countries that have received displaced Ukrainians, WCK continued. Ten thousand daily meals are being distributed in Poland while nearly two dozen suppliers are at work across Moldova. In Hungary, “we have daily meal service at a train station … that serves as a major transportation hub,” the organization continued. Efforts are also underway in Romania, Slovakia, and Spain.

In a statement reported by CNN, Andrés made a plea for an end to Russia’s invasion. "Please stop killing civilians non-stop day and night,” he said. “That's why people are afraid, that's why a lot of people are still in bunkers, it's why many people, they don't want to be in the comfort homes and many nights, they go to the safety of the subway. That's why, again, this war needs to end."

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos