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Donor sues pro-Trump group to recoup $2.5M in failed election lawsuits

By Jean Lotus
A Republican donor filed a federal suit saying he was "duped" after donating $2.5 million to investigate illegal conduct and fraud in the 2020 election. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/5b4ff1c10d4a676b7b061a6265e8d3a9/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A Republican donor filed a federal suit saying he was "duped" after donating $2.5 million to investigate illegal conduct and fraud in the 2020 election. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- A North Carolina businessman and Republican donor filed suit in federal court saying he was duped by a Texas group that claimed they would file lawsuits to uncover election fraud on behalf of President Donald Trump.

Fredric N. Eshelman, founder of venture capital firm Eshelman Ventures LLC, said he donated $2.5 million to Houston-based nonprofit True the Vote Inc. to support the organization's investigations into "illegal and fraudulent conduct" in the 2020 presidential election.

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The complaint filed Wednesday in Houston federal district court alleges that True the Vote CEO Catherine Engelbrecht told Eshelman that the lawsuits would require more than $7 million in financing to acquire sworn affidavits as well as to develop "sophisticated data modeling and statistical analysis to identify potential illegal or fraudulent balloting."

After making multiple donations, Eshelman asked for details of about seven lawsuits in election battleground states that were to be filed by the non-profit's Verify the Vote 2020 initiative. He said Engelbrecht and attorney Jim Bopp, Jr. gave him "vague responses, platitudes, and empty promises of follow-up that never occurred."

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"Specifically, in response to requests for specific and data relating to potential whistleblowers and how their allegations fit into an overall narrative, Engelbrecht would simply respond with vague comments like: 'We are vetting' or 'They are solid,'" the complaint says.

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Four lawsuits were filed by the group in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, states won by President-elect Joe Biden.

The suits were later withdrawn by True the Vote on Nov. 16, the lawsuit says.

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told The Detroit Free Press that the True the Vote lawsuit was "clearly designed to spread misinformation about the security and integrity of Michigan elections."

After refusing to answer Eshelman's demands for a refund of his $2.5 million donation, True the Vote offered Eshelman $1 million not to sue the organization, the suit alleges. Eshelman is demanding the full return of his donation, as well as court costs.

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