AZ Big Media Arizona Trump donors double down after Jan. 6 panel questions election fund

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Scottsdale resident William Acorn had made occasional donations to Conservative candidates in the past but never considered himself a “passionate politician”. That changed in 2020, after a flurry of emails from then-President Donald Trump’s campaign pleading with donors and Trump supporters to “step up and give us the resources ‘to challenge the Democrats’ plans’. to count ILLEGAL ballots”. Acorn became one of tens of thousands of Arizonans who responded with nearly 35,000 individual donations to Trump’s “Election Defense Fund.”

The only problem is that such a fund did not exist.

The campaign actually funneled most of the Election Defense Fund donations to Trump’s new Save America Political Action Committee, said Amanda Wick, senior investigative counsel for the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said the Trump campaign had “cheated” donors, which she called at a June committee hearing a “big scam.”

Acorn, for its part, does not feel ripped off.


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“I believe it was (stolen),” he said of the 2020 election. “I believe people really don’t understand the underlying issues that are going on in this country. This country is being held hostage by ultra, ultra-liberal elitists.

Acorn, who called the Jan. 6 investigation “absolute nonsense,” said he increased his political contributions after Trump’s call. Federal Election Commission records show he had donated $712 to Save America PAC and $5,850 to other Trump-affiliated fundraising committees since September 2016.

It was part of $1.51 million donated by thousands of Arizonans to the Save America PAC, according to FEC data. Nationally, the political action committee had received $45.28 million in contributions from individual donors from the end of 2020 through June 30, 2022.

Scottsdale led all Arizona cities in donations, giving $247,582, with donors from Phoenix and Tucson close behind. Retirees were by far the largest donor group in Arizona, accounting for 56% of all state contributions to the Save America PAC.

Arizona ranked fifth among states in total donations, behind only the much larger states of California, Texas, Florida and New York, the FEC said.

Save America has given millions of its donations to pro-Trump organizations and other services – including $59,953 for car rentals, $2.1 million for the Trump hotel and $5,000 for the campaign Kari Lake for Arizona, according to the FEC.

“Theoretically, they would and should be upset by this,” Frank Gonzalez, a political scientist at the University of Arizona, said of Trump donors. “But they were kind of like, ‘Hey, the big lie, was just a lie. Democracy was not threatened.

Gonzalez said most donors likely view Trump as “just that guy trying to use every tool at his disposal to maintain power at all costs, even if it’s not in the best interests of the majority.” A lot of these people, they don’t care if it was in the best interests of the majority.

Regardless of their opinion, Trump’s transportation from Arizona is a testament to his continued popularity in the state, a Republican consultant has said.

“It’s clear that President Trump is still very popular with much of the Republican Party,” said Chad Willems, a partner at Phoenix-based Summit Consulting Group. “There may be a smaller segment that believes the election was stolen.”

Willems, who has worked with prominent Republicans like Joe Arpaio, said Trump’s team continues to be a “force to be reckoned with” for its ability to capitalize on politically charged events to attract donations.

“Trump’s efforts really sucked up all the money there,” Willems said. “They are very, very aggressive, very consistent in their fundraising calls. And they go after that grassroots crowd that contributes to causes like this.

This can not only make fundraising difficult for other candidates, but it lends more weight to Trump endorsements, which are highly sought after and can help a candidate in a crowded field stand out.

Arizonans sent $469,460 to Save America PAC in the months immediately following the 2020 election. Donations continued in 2021 and 2022, when state donations added another $1 million to the coffers of the CAP. Donations surged in October, a month after the Republican-led audit of Maricopa County election results found President Joe Biden had actually won more votes than originally expected.

“Humans are very emotional beings and they are motivated to believe certain things because they feel comfortable,” Gonzalez said of donor motivation.

“It gives you anxiety to think that the things you believe in are wrong and so they will do what is necessary,” he said. “Perception is reality. Thus, they will selectively attend to facts that fit their worldview.

Acorn said he knew “Republicans and Democrats got corruption.” But he intends to continue giving to Trump and conservative causes because he thinks it’s the right thing to do.

“What matters to me is, yes, fraud in any circumstance, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats,” Acorn said. “But I will tell you that my belief is that the most important thing is your basic core ideal of what you are trying to accomplish.”

Neetish Basnet Story, Cronkite News

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