By CHRISTINA A. CASSIDY and MARC LEVY, Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The first donation came in early May, for $50, and with a message: “GOD BLESS THE USA!!”
In just over a month, the crowdfunding page dedicated to bringing an Arizona-style review of the 2020 presidential election to Pennsylvania had collected $15,339 from 332 donors. Today, the effort has morphed into a full-fledged campaign to “Audit the Vote PA.” The website offers a six-week course on the Constitution and encourages supporters to become a “walking billboard for a forensic audit” by purchasing various hats and T-shirts.
Still prominent is the “donate” button. But unlike the initial crowdfunding page, it’s hard to tell how much money the group is bringing in or how the money is being spent. Multiple requests for information sent to an email listed on the site received no replies.
Efforts to expand Arizona’s controversial, Republican-led review of the 2020 election to other states are growing, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of victory and funded by a network of groups operating with little oversight. Election officials and experts have raised the alarm about these private fundraising efforts and what they see as a broader push by candidates to raise money off conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
“It has become profitable both politically and financially for people to lie about the election and denigrate American democracy,”…