A nonprofit known as The America Project — which was launched by several prominent election deniers just a few months after the January 6th attack on our democracy — raised $7.7 million in 2021, according to a recently filed tax return obtained by Issue One.
During the same period, The America Project spent $7.4 million, mostly advancing false claims about the 2020 elections, including paying millions of dollars to the Cyber Ninjas firm involved in the conspiracy-laden partisan review of ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona.
“Peddling lies to erode people’s faith in our free and fair elections is bad for our country, but unfortunately, there’s money to be made in it, as these new documents show,” said Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman. “When people hear something that sounds too outrageous to be true, they should ask questions, including asking whether there are grifters involved who are profiting from election integrity lies.”
Added Amber McReynolds, the former director of elections for Denver, Colorado, and a member of Issue One’s bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity: “It’s disheartening to see so much money flowing to groups pushing election-related conspiracy theories when election officials routinely work wonders with limited financial resources. People with questions about the integrity of our elections should be calling on Congress to provide sustainable funding for state and local election officials to properly fund critical election infrastructure, not helping line the pockets of election liars.”
The America Project was formed in April 2021 by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, his brother Joe Flynn, and millionaire Patrick Byrne, who stepped down as the CEO of online retailer Overstock.com in 2019 after his affair with an alleged Russian spy came to light.
Much of the money The America Project raised in 2022 came from anonymous wealthy donors, with just five donors accounting for nearly half of the group’s income. The largest of these anonymous donors gave nearly $2.8 million — roughly 36% of the group’s total receipts.
The group’s new tax filing additionally shows it spent nearly $1.7 million on salaries in 2021, including $340,000 to Robert Weaver (its highest-paid director) and $65,000 to Byrne.
Neither Joe Flynn nor Michael Flynn was paid a salary, but one of Michael Flynn’s companies — Resilient Patriot LLC — was paid $200,000 for “strategic consulting,” and one of Joe Flynn’s companies — Brisas Suaves LLC — was paid $159,000 for services related to “election integrity investigations.”
The America Project’s tax filing that will detail all of its spending and fundraising during 2022 is not expected to be filed with the IRS until November 2023, though campaign finance records show it contributed more than $255,000 in 2022 to the PAC of Nevada Republican Jim Marchant, an election denier who unsuccessfully ran for secretary of state in Nevada and whose PAC worked to boost several election-denying secretary of state candidates across the country.
Issue: Fighting False Narratives