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New tax filing details how election deniers profit from group founded by conspiracy theorists Patrick Byrne and Michael Flynn

Media Contact

Cory Combs

Director of Media Relations

A new tax filing reviewed by Issue One shows that several prominent election deniers have been profiting from The America Project, a nonprofit founded in 2021 by former CEO Patrick Byrne and President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

To wit:

  • Byrne himself collected a salary of $95,000 from The America Project in 2022, and The America Project paid a real estate company linked to him another $192,000, despite telling the congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that he wasn’t receiving a salary from The America Project.
  • Joe Flynn — brother of Michael Flynn — was paid a salary of $263,000 in 2022 for serving as one of the directors of The America Project, or about $169 per hour.
  • Carl Johnson, a conservative activist who serves as The America Project’s chief operating officer, was paid a salary of $237,500 in 2022, or about $114 per hour.
  • And Mark Lloyd, who, in 2022, served as the director of “Operation Eagles Wings,” which trains conservative activists in poll-watching tactics, was paid roughly $169,000.

“Peddling false information that erodes people’s faith in our elections is bad for the country, but unfortunately, there’s money to be made in it,” said Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman. “It’s a sad state of affairs that election officials from across the political spectrum are working tirelessly to restore people’s faith in the integrity of our elections while grifters continue to push, and profit from, election lies.”

Added former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), a co-chair of Issue One’s National Council on Election Integrity: “People with concerns about the integrity of our elections should be calling on Congress to provide additional funding to fortify our elections processes, not helping line the pockets of those who were at the center of promoting misinformation and conspiracy theories in the lead up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.”

The new tax filing shows The America Project raised about $14.3 million in 2022, up from $7.7 million in 2021.

As a nonprofit registered under Sec. 501(c)(4) of the tax code, The America Project is not required to disclose the names of its donors. However, Byrne has publicly said that most of the money comes from his own funds. In October 2023, Byrne said The America Project had raised about $30 million since its founding, with about $3 million coming from “the public” and the rest — $27 million — coming from him.

The new tax filing further details how The America Project has helped underwrite conspiracy-fueled legal battles and financially supported several groups that have spread lies about the integrity of our elections.

All told, it gave money to more than two dozen organizations in 2022, including two organizations connected to Michigan-based attorney Stefanie Lambert. It also paid $150,000 to Brian Della Rocca, a Maryland-based lawyer who has been representing the Delaware computer repair shop owner at the center of the controversy about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Read Issue One’s newest analysis about The America Project.