Billionaire Ronald Lauder has donated $1 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee, an organization that works to elect at least two state-level candidates who contest the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Lauder’s $1 million donation, made Sept. 12, is listed in the group’s third-quarter report recently filed with the IRS. He provided part of the $17 million the group raised from July to September.
Lauder is the heir to the Estee Lauder fortune and has a net worth of $4.5 billion, according to Forbes.
A Lauder spokesperson declined to comment. A representative of the Republican State Leadership Committee did not return a request for comment.
Lauder is the last of more than two dozen wealthy business leaders and companies themselves who have contributed to the candidates who questioned the results of the 2020 election – or to outside organizations that support them. Lauder’s donation to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which has not been reported, is one of the top individual contributions to the group during the third quarter, according to the filing.
An even bigger donation came from the Concord Fund, a group previously known as the Judicial Crisis Network that has ties to former President Donald Trump’s former legal adviser, Leonard Leo. The Concord Fund, which previously spent millions on ads supporting Trump’s judicial nominees, gave $1.5 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee in September.
The Republican State Leadership Committee is considered a tax-exempt politically active group under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. These organizations can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money, but they must disclose their finances to the IRS.
According to OpenSecrets, state-level midterm elections across the country are expected to rake in more than $7 billion as parties vie for control of legislatures, governor’s offices and secretary of state posts. . The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, a group of 527 supporters of the Democrats running for secretary of state, earlier this year received a $500,000 contribution from a super PAC largely funded by the billionaire George Soros.
The Republican State Leadership Committee is backing dozens of candidates vying to become Secretaries of State, Lieutenant Governors, State Legislators and State Court Judges. Several Republican candidates for secretary of state and lieutenant governor in the general election have echoed Trump in saying the 2020 election was either stolen or rigged.
If these candidates for secretary of state win, they would have a vital role in both administering the election and counting the ballots in 2024 — when Trump could once again lead the GOP presidential ticket.
The Republican State Leadership Committee has ties to state legislative leaders who have questioned election results, supported efforts to halt the Electoral College vote count, or downplayed the Jan. 6 attack on the American capital.
In this year’s state legislative races, the Republican State Leadership Committee supported some candidates who cast doubt on the 2020 election results.
The Republican State Leadership Committee supported Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu through digital ads beginning in August, according to its Facebook ad records. LeMahieu, who fended off a primary challenge and is on the ballot in November, pushed campaign plots onto the campaign trail.
“We may never know the full impact of the illegal use of unmanned ballot boxes, abuses in nursing homes or ‘Zuckerbucks’ on the 2020 election, but we can ensure that these violations do not never breed again in Wisconsin,” he told a local Wisconsin press briefing.
LeMahieu was one of three Republican state Senate leaders who last year authorized the Senate Elections Committee to review an election audit they said “paint[s] a grim picture of the Wisconsin Elections Commission and their negligent administration of election law in Wisconsin. »
Biden won Wisconsin by less by one percentage point in 2020.
Earlier this year, LeMahieu said“By a raw vote count, yes, Biden got more votes in the state of Wisconsin, but we don’t know — there were obviously a lot of concerns about how those votes were cast.”
The Republican State Leadership Committee also launched a digital ad in October in support of Pennsylvania State Rep. Lori Mizgorski, who is functioning become a state senator, the group’s Facebook advertising records show. Mizgorski was one of the state’s GOP officials who called for an election audit in the Keystone state after President Joe Biden defeated Trump there in the 2020 election by a margin large enough to avoid an automatic recount .
Republican lawmakers in states allied with Trump launched an audit last year. While the GOP-led effort is not a recount and cannot alter the results, it aims to examine the state’s voting procedures and could, in doing so, cast doubts on the fairness of the election of 2020.
“It’s not about who won or lost, it’s about restoring faith in the foundations of our government. We all want to know that our votes were counted correctly in this election and we want to make sure they will be properly counted in all future elections,” Mizgorski said. said in a press release when she sided with state party leaders in support of an election audit.
Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court blocked a third-party company from inspecting voting machines provided by Dominion Voting Systems — a common target for election conspiracy theories — as part of the audit.
Trump, who could run for president in 2024, still claims the election was rigged against him, even though officials on both sides of the aisle have said there was no widespread voter fraud. Republican state and federal candidates echoed many of his false claims.
Although she supported an audit, Mizgorski did not explicitly deny the election results. The Trump campaign’s lawsuits and state-mandated audits of every county in Pennsylvania found no evidence of issues that influenced the election outcome.
Additionally, the Republican State Leadership Committee’s own members have supported false claims regarding the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill.
Karen Fann, president of the Arizona Senate, listed on the Republican State Leadership Committee website as a member of the legislative campaign committee, called for an audit of Dominion Voting Systems after the election. Fann is not seeking re-election.
Michigan State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey is also listed as a member of the group’s legislative campaign committee. He called the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol a “hoax” and a “pre-arrangement,” according to a registration obtained by the Detroit News. The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has also been subpoenaed chirkey.
He is not eligible for re-election this year due to term limits.
Pennsylvania State House Speaker Bryan Cutler serves on the group’s state legislative committee. He was part of a group of state lawmakers who co-signed a letter to the Pennsylvania congressional delegation, urging them “to object, and vote in support of such objection, to the Electoral College votes received from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”