A Jan. 6 “Moms” Group Funded by Big Lie Donors Is Stoking Voter Suppression

Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a Florida-based heiress to the Publix tremendous markets fortune, was little identified to the general public earlier than she was outed as a significant sponsor of the darkish cash teams organizing the January 6 “Cease the Steal” rallies that culminated within the violent riot at america Capitol.

Latest reporting by OpenSecrets uncovered that the George Jenkins Basis, the place Fancelli sits as board president and was the only funder in 2021, gave tens of millions extra to teams concerned within the January 5 and 6 rallies than beforehand identified, together with a staggering $1.375 million to a far proper group referred to as Mothers for America.

Mothers for America has acquired considerably much less media consideration than different right-wing “girls’s” teams — comparable to Mothers for Liberty, Ladies for America First, the Unbiased Ladies’s Discussion board/Voice, and Involved Ladies for America — which can be funded by ultra-wealthy donors whose identities they maintain secret from the general public. However Mothers for America has additionally been a significant participant in pushing voter suppression, election denialism, assaults on public colleges and COVID-19 misinformation.

Mothers for America, which was created in 2005 as “Homemakers for America” and just lately designated by the Southern Poverty Legislation Middle as an anti-government extremist group, deserves larger scrutiny for its function in January 6 and different efforts to undermine democracy. Its funders warrant larger scrutiny too.

Mothers for America’s Ties to January 6

Mothers for America and its staffers helped arrange the January 5 “Cease the Steal” rally the day earlier than the far proper assault on the U.S. Capitol. Founder and President Kimberly Fletcher, who spoke on the January 5 rally, was subsequently subpoenaed by the Home January 6 committee. Throughout her deposition, Fletcher pled the Fifth Modification to just about each query posed to her, however the committee referenced reveals demonstrating the excessive stage of involvement Mothers for America and its representatives performed in organizing the occasion.

These reveals present that starting in December 2020, Fletcher was a part of a textual content thread with fellow rally organizers Ali Alexander, Nathan Martin and Ed Martin through which she instructed them she had secured permits for actions to reply then-President Donald Trump’s name to forestall the election from being licensed. Additionally they show that Mothers for America Vice President Debbie Kraulidis helped coordinate lodging for the January 5 “Cease the Steal” occasion attendees, and Mothers for America supplied a VIP record for the January 6 occasion on the White Home Ellipse, the place Trump spoke and urged the group to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”

Cindy Chafian helped arrange and spoke on the “Cease the Steal” rally on January 5, whereas her husband Scott Chafian acted as head of safety, in keeping with January 6 committee testimony. Mothers for America quickly thereafter employed Cindy Chafian as its “director of coalitions and engagement.

In her speech, Chafian addressed her comments directly to Trump: “We heard your name, and we’re right here for you, Mr. President.” She particularly thanked armed militias — the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, First Modification Praetorian (which her husband reportedly leads) and the Proud Boys — for “defending” the group. She additionally disputed that the Proud Boys are white supremacists and led a chant in assist of Proud Boy founder Enrique Tarrio, who was just lately found guilty of seditious conspiracy for plotting to assault the Capitol on January 6.

Video footage allegedly exhibits her marching up the steps of the Capitol on January 6 and cheering as rioters assaulted a police officer.

Mothers for America board of administrators member Charles W. Herbster, a former Trump adviser who has been accused of sexual assault by eight women, posted on Fb the afternoon earlier than the riot that he was “within the personal residence of the President at Trump Worldwide with the next patriots who’re becoming a member of me in a battle for justice and fact.”

According to Herbster’s post, these in attendance had been Sen. Tommy Tuberville (who denied being there regardless of pictures of him within the lodge foyer that day), former Republican Attorneys Common Affiliation Government Director Adam Piper, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, former Trump Nationwide Safety Adviser Michael Flynn (who Trump pardoned after he was convicted of a felony for mendacity to the FBI), Trump adviser Peter Navarro, Trump 2016 marketing campaign supervisor Corey Lewandowski and deputy marketing campaign supervisor David Bossie, who additionally led the conservative group Residents United.

Mothers for America’s Different Ties to the “Large Lie”

The actions main as much as January 6 weren’t the one efforts Mothers for America made to undermine the general public’s religion within the legitimacy of U.S. elections. The group joined up with the “Cease the Steal” coalition to prepare and took part in rallies selling the Large Lie (that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump) and pushing for recounts in all 50 states, in keeping with Mothers for America’s 2020 “Year in Review” report.

Mercedes Schlapp, who serves on Mothers for America’s board of administrators and beforehand labored for Trump’s 2020 marketing campaign, created a legal fund to cowl the protection of quite a few people subpoenaed by the Home January 6 committee. She is married to Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Moreover, Sherronna Bishop, whom Mothers for America describes as an “Election Safety Specialist,” has proposed getting rid of voting machines, automatic voter registration and most absentee voting. She was deeply concerned in a scheme by former Colorado elections clerk Tina Peters to discredit the results of the 2020 presidential election within the state, which resulted in Bishop’s residence being searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Bishop was not charged as a part of the investigation.

Bishop additionally has had a detailed relationship to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who produced a documentary in regards to the incident through which Bishop co-starred. Bishop flew on Lindell’s private plane to Lindell’s 2021 Second of Fact Convention in August 2022, the place she went on her personal conspiratorial rant in regards to the “2020 fraud election” and different claims which have repeatedly been debunked.

Fancelli’s 2021 contribution to Mothers for America amounted to greater than a 3rd of the group’s funding that yr, nevertheless it additionally acquired donations from different far proper teams tied to January 6 and the Large Lie. The truth is, Mothers for America noticed a large inflow of money in 2021, taking in $3.1 million in contributions, a dramatic enhance from simply $408,000 in 2020.

Mothers for America’s second-largest identified donor in 2021, the Bradley Impact Fund (BIF), a pass-through group that disguises the identities of its donors, contributed $752,500. BIF is legally separate however carefully tied to the Bradley Foundation, a large right-wing basis that journalist Jane Mayer uncovered for its function in pushing the Big Lie. Among the Bradley basis’s beforehand secret funders embrace Barre Seid, Richard Uihlein and Paul Singer — all just lately within the information for his or her ties to right-wing activist Leonard Leo’s court docket seize community.

BIF additionally gave greater than $7 million that yr to Charlie Kirk’s Turning Level USA, a right-wing group that helped transport Large Lie fanatics to the January 6 rallies, and acquired (along with its motion arm) at least $1 million from Fancelli for January 6 organizing and authorized efforts.

Mothers for America additionally took in $10,000 from America’s Future Inc., a darkish cash group chaired by Michael Flynn, who referred to as for Trump to declare “martial legislation” and cease the certification of the 2020 election. America’s Future gave almost $1 million to the “Cyber Ninjas” that engaged within the fake and repeatedly discredited Arizona “audit.”

Mothers for America Motion (MFA Motion), the group’s 501(c)(4) arm, launched in 2020, however is now “pending inactive” in Virginia the place it’s registered on account of a past-due annual report and unpaid charges. MFA Motion has thus far not responded to efforts by True North Analysis to acquire its 2021 tax filings.

This lack of transparency by a bunch actively concerned in making an attempt to affect election outcomes is regarding given the numerous quantity of labor the group has accomplished to get out the vote amongst “conservative girls of religion” forward of the November 2020 election. It has a 15-state plan “to have interaction and mobilize mothers to get out the mother vote” in 2024, in addition to in different state and native elections, particularly college board elections, in 2023.

Mothers for America’s Assaults on Colleges

Mothers for America can be one of many darkish cash teams behind the current manufactured outrage focusing on public colleges. The group launched MomForce, an initiative focusing on training, in August 2021 and has hosted trainings for right-wing mothers on the right way to disrupt their native college boards and run for workplace themselves.

In 2022, Mothers for America bragged about creating a legal fund designed particularly to “assist mothers” battle with what it claims are “more and more radical and overreaching habits” by colleges. The actual radical overreach is by teams like Mothers for America who assault the trustworthy educating of historical past and measures to deal with college students with respect for who they’re.

Assaults on colleges will not be unrelated to right-wing efforts to affect elections. Some within the media have credited the coordinated assault on Virginia public schools as the important thing to Glenn Youngkin’s upset victory within the 2020 Virginia gubernatorial election. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made manufacturing outrage over colleges — partnering with darkish cash brokers from Mothers for Liberty, the Manhattan Institute and the Management Institute — a centerpiece of his bid for the presidency.

The truth is, within the lead-up to the Florida election, Fancelli contributed $50,000 to a political motion committee run by the anti-government organization Mothers for Liberty, which donated to the campaigns of far proper college board candidates in Florida, most of whom additionally acquired contributions from DeSantis’s PAC.

Though MFA Motion’s web site doesn’t record any endorsements for college board candidates within the Florida election, Mothers for America claims to have had “big win[s]” together with 43 college board seats in 13 Florida counties. Usually, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit like Mothers for America can’t expressly endorse an electoral candidate with out risking its tax-exempt standing. Mothers for America seemingly has a big presence within the state with native chapters in Polk County, Sarasota County, Palm Beach County and Brevard County, in addition to a state liaison.

Mothers for America took credit for serving to elect Governor Youngkin and taking up college board and metropolis council seats in 17 states in 2021. MFA Motion additionally endorsed candidates in Virginia within the state’s 2022 election. In 2023, it has formally backed dozens of faculty board and different native candidates’ elections in Virginia, South Carolina, Illinois and Texas.

Mothers for America’s workers and management additionally show the group’s deal with attacking public training. Rebecca Friedrichs, who’s on Mothers for America’s advisory council, was the lead plaintiff in a 2016 Supreme Court case towards a California academics union introduced by a legal group funded by the right-wing Bradley Basis. She later created a right-wing group dubbed “For Children and Nation,” which promotes a “union exit” for academics and encourages parents to persuade their kids’s academics to depart their unions.

Sam Sorbo — who sits on Mothers for America’s board of administrators and is married to actor and right-wing provocateur Kevin Sorbo — created and runs an anti-public school group. Sorbo claimed on Newsmax that academics “wish to have sex with your children.” Proper-wing public college privatization teams have more and more relied on outrageous claims like this to ostensibly create public distrust of faculty academics and assault colleges that deal with LGBTQ+ kids and adults with dignity.

Mothers for America additionally pushes excessive nationalism on kids, with an entire section of its website devoted to “restoring patriotism,” which incorporates jingoistic lesson plans and Zoom classes pushing far proper “values.”

The group has produced “guides” for mothers on the right way to oppose the truthful telling of history in schools and amplify the voices of right-wing parents, whereas silencing different mother and father. Additionally they plan to create an anti-trans guide for folks.

Like many anti-public college teams, Mothers for America additionally has ties to right-wing spiritual fundamentalists. In 2019, the group attended a gathering of the secretive Council for National Policy, a Christian proper group that has been described as a “a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country.”

Sam Sorbo has pushed for the educating of faith in public colleges and even claimed, with out proof, that if colleges don’t train the Bible, kids will study to hate it. She additionally claimed absurdly that it “is the very best historical past ebook that we have now.” Mothers for America has additionally pushed towards the separation of church and state in a blog post on supposed myths in regards to the U.S. Structure.

Mothers for America just lately introduced a partnership with Patriot Academy, a far proper training group that claims to have skilled greater than 500,000 individuals of their spiritual fundamentalist dogma, for a sequence of Zoom conferences titled “Biblical Citizenship in Trendy America,” a nonsensical title contemplating U.S. Structure expressly bars any spiritual check or oath for holding workplace and explicitly bars Congress from establishing any faith because the state faith.

Mothers for America is a little-known group that may be a comparatively massive cog in a well-resourced far proper machine targeted on assailing our democracy and core establishments, together with undermining rights most individuals within the U.S. maintain pricey. Regardless of its lack of identify recognition nationally, the group has huge sums at its disposal. Mothers for America and its donors shouldn’t be ignored because it joins different darkish cash teams set on dominating native college boards and state elections in 2023 and 2024, in addition to the upcoming 2024 presidential race.

Be aware: True North Analysis Government Director Lisa Graves, Analysis Fellow Caitlin Mahoney and Democracy Researcher Ansev Demirhan contributed to this report.

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