Washington, D.C. — New reporting in Rolling Stone today revealed that conservative megadonors have been funneling money to The Claremont Institute—a group whose leadership is closely tied to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.  

John Eastman, a member of Claremont’s Board of Directors and a senior fellow at the organization was responsible for presenting the Trump administration with a six-point plan to overturn the election to Donald Trump. Eastman even spoke at the so-called “Stop the Steal Rally” preceding the attack on the Capitol. 

“Were it not for the patronage of billionaire conservatives and their family foundations, the Claremont Institute would likely be relegated to screaming about its anti-government agenda on the street corner,” said Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US. “These insanely wealthy conservative families are granting Claremont legitimacy it does not deserve, especially after it actively supported those who worked so hard to deny the legitimacy of the free and fair election in 2020.” 

The conservative megadonors funneling money to Claremont include the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, The Sarah Scaife Foundation, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Donors Trust, Donors Capital Fund, and The Charles Koch Foundation.  

While former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sought recognition for stepping down from the Trump administration after the January 6th insurrection, her charitable foundation gave $640,000 to a group heavily involved in the planning of the failed coup attempt. The contributions to the Claremont Institute were made in 2020 while DeVos continued to serve in the administration. Betsy DeVos’ eleventh-hour departure from the Trump administration was a desperate attempt to distance herself from deadly assault on the Capitol and our democracy on January 6th. DeVos’ charitable foundation’s donations to those who helped plan the failed coup attempt while she served in Trump’s Cabinet tells a different story. 

See the full analysis from Accountable.US here.

KEY FINDINGS FROM THE ROLLING STONE’S REPORTING: 

  • “The Claremont Institute, once a little-known think tank often confused with the liberal-arts college of the same name, has emerged as a driving force in the conservative movement’s crusade to use bogus fraud claims about the 2020 election to rewrite voting laws and remake the election system in time for the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election. Most infamously, one of the group’s legal scholars crafted memos outlining a plan for how then-Vice President Mike Pence could potentially overturn the last election. 
  • The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation donated $240,000 to Claremont in 2020 and approved another $400,000 to be paid out in the future, tax records show. The Bradley Foundation donated $100,000 to Claremont in 2020 and another $100,000 in 2021, according to tax records and a spokeswoman for the group. The Sarah Scaife Foundation, one of several charities tied to the late right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, supplied another $450,000 to Claremont in 2020, according to its latest tax filings. 
  • Bradley in particular has given heavily to groups that traffic in misleading or baseless claims about “election integrity” or widespread “voter fraud.” Thanks to a $6.5 million infusion from the Bradley Impact Fund, a related nonprofit, the undercover-sting group Project Veritas nearly doubled its revenue in 2020 to $22 million, according to the group’s tax filing. Bradley is also a long-time funder of the Heritage Foundation, which helped architect the wave of voter suppression bills introduced in state legislatures this year, and True the Vote, a conservative group that trains poll watchers and stokes fears of rampant voter fraud in the past. 
  • As would later be revealed, Eastman also wrote two memos outlining a plan for how then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 result on January 6. “The main thing here is that Pence should do this without asking for permission — either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court,” Eastman wrote. “Let the other side challenge his actions in court…” (Worth noting: The Claremont Review would later publish its own critique of Eastman’s memos by a professor of government and ethics at Claremont McKenna college. After walking through a key piece of Eastman’s argument, the professor, Joseph Bessette, wrote: “One doesn’t have to be a scholar of the American Founding, a professor of constitutional law, or an expert in election law to know that this simply cannot be right.”)” 

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