As election-denying secretary of state candidates spouted rhetoric that eroded people’s faith in our free and fair elections, political operatives behind the scenes were raking in the dough.
A new Issue One review of state campaign finance filings highlights nine of the most notable companies and political consultants across the country that converted election denialism into profit during the 2022 midterm elections.
“Companies and political consultants that profit by spreading lies about the integrity of our elections are a cancer,” said Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman. “The firms that work for, and help advise, political candidates should know better than to sow distrust in our free and fair elections. The grand experiment of American democracy needs Democrats, Republicans, and independents to come together to defend our political institutions and fully fund our elections — not snake oil salesmen who are trying to cash in on reckless rhetoric based on lies and disinformation.”
Issue One found that three election-denying secretary of state candidates spent a combined $81,000 at properties owned by former President Donald Trump during their campaigns.
- Mark Finchem, the unsuccessful GOP secretary of state nominee in Arizona, spent more than $53,000 at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
- Kristina Karamo, the unsuccessful GOP secretary of state nominee in Michigan, spent nearly $22,000 at the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey.
- And Jim Marchant, the unsuccessful GOP secretary of state nominee in Nevada, spent more than $6,000 at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Some of the other companies that profited from election-denying secretary of state candidates have long-established reputations in GOP circles. Others are new firms specializing in “America First” candidates.
Among them are:
- Go Right Strategies — a Florida-based firm run by Spence Rogers, the nephew of Wendy Rogers, an Arizona state senator with ties to white nationalists — ranked as the top beneficiary of Mark Finchem’s campaign spending. Finchem paid Go Right Strategies $1.5 million, which accounted for 76% of his campaign expenditures. Kristina Karamo of Michigan also spent approximately $5,600 at Go Right Strategies.
- McShane LLC — a political consulting firm based in Las Vegas, Nevada, whose vice president made news in 2020 when he arranged to recruit Proud Boys to protest in front of the Clark County Election Department while they were counting votes — received $696,000 in payments from election-denying secretary of state candidates during the 2022 election cycle. Jim Marchant paid McShane LLC nearly $500,000 — representing 56% of his overall campaign spending and ranking the firm as the top beneficiary of his campaign’s spending. Additionally, Chuck Gray, the election denier who prevailed in Wyoming’s secretary of state election, spent nearly $200,000 at McShane LLC, and Diego Morales, the election denier who prevailed in Indiana’s secretary of state election, paid McShane LLC more than $7,000.
- Patriot Strategic Group — a Michigan-based company whose agent, Dom Theodore, works for the conservative Glenn Beck radio program — ranked as the top beneficiary of Kristina Karamo’s campaign spending. Karamo paid Patriotic Strategic Group $400,000, representing 33% of her overall campaign spending.
- Georgetown Advisory — a consulting firm run by Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn — received $80,000 from election-denying secretary of state candidates ahead of the 2022 elections. The firm received $60,000 from Kristina Karamo and $20,000 from Jim Marchant.
- Milk Consulting — a political consulting firm based in Las Vegas, Nevada, headed by Robert Duran, who is described on the company’s website as “the only true America First News Influencer” — received nearly $16,000 from election-denying secretary of state candidate Audrey Trujillo of New Mexico, or roughly 24% of her total spending. This ranked the company as the top beneficiary of her campaign.
On Election Day last November, voters rejected many of the 12 election-denying secretary of state candidates who emerged as the Republican Party’s nominees. But election deniers prevailed in a handful of secretary of state races in heavily Republican states — as well as in elections for other offices, from state legislatures to the halls of Congress.
As Issue One has previously detailed, election-denying secretary of state candidates — who were running to oversee the very elections they sowed doubt about — raised large sums of campaign cash for races that, in the past, have often not been in the limelight.
For more about who profited from the campaigns of these 12 election-denying secretary of state candidates, read Issue One’s full report, entitled “Who Profited from Election Deniers?”