The Big Lie Looks Like a Big Grift

True the Vote raised millions of dollars over the last two presidential elections. They claim that they discovered voter fraud. It’s promised to release its evidence. It has not.

Instead, the Texas-based nonprofit organization has engaged in a series of questionable transactions that sent more than $1 million combined to its founder, a longtime board member romantically linked to the founder and the group’s general counsel, an investigation by RevealThe Center for Investigative Reporting found.

A former PTA mom-turned-Tea Party activist, True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht has played a pivotal role in helping drive the voter fraud movement from the political fringes to a central pillar in the Republican Party’s ideology. Casting herself as a God-fearing, small-town Texan, she’s spread the voter-fraud gospel by commanding airtime on cable television, space on the pages of Breitbart News and even theater seats, as a new feature film dramatizing her organization’s exploits, “2000 Mules,” plays in cinemas across the country.

Along the way, she’s gained key allies across the conservative movement. Former President Donald Trump shouts her name at rallies and held a private screening for the film at his Mar-a-Lago resort, exploited the group’s declarations to proclaim that he won the popular vote in 2016. Provocateur Dinesh D’Souza partnered with Engelbrecht on the film. And she’s represented by the legal heavyweightJames Bopp Jr. dismantle abortion rights, who argued many of the arguments in Citizens United that revolutionized campaign finance law, was part of the legal team that won in Bush v. Gore.

An examination of thousands of pages from tax returns, state filings and court records paints a picture that shows an organization that enriches Engelbrecht, partner Gregg Phillips, and not rooting out fraud. According to documents, True the Vote has provided questionable loans to Engelbrecht as well as a history of awarding contracts for companies owned by Engelbrecht or Phillips. Within days of receiving $2.5 million from a donor to stop the certification of the 2020 election, True the Vote distributed much of the money to a company owned by Phillips, Bopp’s law firm and Engelbrecht directly for a campaign that quickly fizzled out.

Review by legal and non-profit accounting experts Reveal’s findings said the Texas attorney general and Internal Revenue Service should investigate.

“This certainly looks really bad,” said Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch.

The courts have dismissed the allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. debunked by auditsEven for Republicans, the True the Vote story demonstrates how exploiting the Big Lie can be a profitable enterprise. It has grown from a cottage business to a thriving industry.

These records are:

  • True the Vote regularly reported Engelbrecht loans, including more than $113,000 in 2019, according the a tax filing. Texas law bans nonprofitsEngelbrecht is an employee and a director, lending money to directors.
  • From 2014 to 2020, nearly $890,000. was collected by True the Vote by companies connected to Phillips and Engelbrecht. The largest payment – at least $750,000 – went to a new company created by Phillips, OPSEC Group LLC, to do voter analysis in 2020. It’s unclear whether OPSEC has any other clients; it has no website and no digital footprint that Reveal could trace beyond its incorporation records. The contract, which one expert called “eye-popping” for its largess, did not appear to be disclosed in the 2020 tax returnReveal was provided with the following information:
  • True the Vote provided Bopp’s law firm a retainer of at least $500,000 to lead a legal charge against the results of the 2020 election, but he filed only four of the seven lawsuits promised to a $2.5 million donor, all of which were voluntarily dismissedIt took less than a week for the paperwork to be filed. The donor later called the amount billed by Bopp’s firm “unconscionable” and “impossible.”
  • The organization’s tax returns are riddled with inconsistencies and have regularly been amended. Experts who reviewed the filings found it difficult to understand how True the Vote spends donations.

True the Vote produced two versions of the same document in one instance. A copy 2019 tax return Engelbrecht providedTo RevealDoes not match the version on the IRS website.

The IRS version listed Phillips as a member of the board. Englebrecht’s version did not. Engelbrecht owed $113,396 according to the IRS return. Engelbrecht’s version indicated the loan’s balance was gone. Answering questions from Reveal, Engelbrecht said she was going to submit an amended version of the group’s 2019 tax return — the one she’d provided to Reveal — to the IRS.

Engelbrecht declined to interview for this story. Instead, she referred specific questions to Bopp and her accountant. Bopp wouldn’t answer questions about the loan and who approved the contracts, saying that was confidential financial information. He said there was “nothing inherently wrong or improper with contracting with board members to do services for the corporation.”

“I’ve represented not-for-profits for 45 years,” Bopp said, “and it is common.”

Experts were unsure if True the Vote had the policies and structure to prevent self-dealing as other nonprofits.

As True the Vote has gained prominence, Engelbrecht has maintained an oversized control of the charity as its only employee in recent years and a member of a small board of directors that’s been packed with potential conflicts of interests. “That’s a real problem,” said Styron, of CharityWatch.

The federal government grants nonprofits a special status that allows them to operate without tax in recognition of their public benefits. They are also subject to greater scrutiny and transparency in order to ensure donor funds are being properly used.

Experts say that organizations with more than $1million in annual revenue will typically have more staff and a larger board. “These are public dollars, and the board members and officers of a charity have a fiduciary duty to … spend all of the resources of the charity carrying out the mission of the organization to the best of their ability in ways that benefit the nonprofit,” Styron said. “Not in ways that benefit them personally.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has appeared on Engelbrecht’s podcast and been an active supporter of attempts to overthrow the 2020 election. His office stated that it would review the case and decide if action is necessary. Reveal sought his office’s communications about True the Vote through Texas public records law, but he refused to disclose them, citing attorney-client privilege.

Meanwhile, True the Vote’s work continues to get airtime in Trump’s speeches. At a rally earlier in the year in Southeast Texas, former president celebrated Engelbrecht as a champion.

“What a job she’s done, thank you, thank you, Catherine,” Trump said. “If you have any information about ballot harvesting in your state, call Catherine Engelbrecht.”

True the Vote’s Tea Party Roots

Engelbrecht was a small business owner in Southeast Texas in the 2000s and was not involved in politics. But Barack Obama’s election as president in 2008 concerned her enough that she got active in local Tea Party effortsParticipating in rallies or meetings.

Bryan Engelbrecht was her husband when she started King Street Patriots. It trained volunteers who were then able to monitor the polls in predominantly Black and Latino communities in Harris County. It ran into difficulties. violating the law that prohibits nonprofits from being overtly political, and the Engelbrechts started True the Vote.

Catherine Engelbrecht was a regular guest on Fox News. She once offered a commentary. $1 million bountyfor her testimony. She advocated for Texas’ strict voter ID law in 2013. A year later, Engelbrecht and her husband filed for divorce and Bryan Engelbrecht left True the Vote’s board. Gregg Phillips (a long-time conservative operative) took his place.

Phillips was repeatedly accused of financial impropriety and of using his government positions to gain political advantage. Mississippi TexasTo make his own money. The same year Phillips joined True the Vote’s board, the nonprofit began to pay entities he controlled.

True the Vote in 2014 paid $25,000 to American Solutions for Winning the Future for a “donor list rental.” Phillips was the director, records show. True the Vote in the next year gave $30,000 to a company called Define Idea Inc. for “IT support services.” Phillips was a director of the company, according to its formation documents.

Engelbrecht also began receiving questionable payments in the same year from True the Vote.

According to its 2015 tax filingsIt issued Engelbrecht a loan of $40,607 Under Texas law, nonprofit directors can’t receive loans, though employees can. Engelbrecht is both an employee and a director. True the Vote wouldn’t answer questions about who approved the loan, its conditions and whether Engelbrecht voted on it as a board member.

“I’m not going to respond to you on this,” Bopp said. “If you want free legal research, go pay a lawyer to do it.”

But that wasn’t the only way Engelbrecht got access to her nonprofit’s coffers. Ao2 LLC and ARC Network LLC were each paid $82,500. 2015 2016 for “database license fees” and “software license fees,” respectively, according to the tax filings, which disclose that the companies are tied to Engelbrecht. Court filings show that she owned 100% ARC Network. She is also listed as the owner for Ao2 in Wyoming registration documents.

ARC Network Define IdeaState records show that Texas barred them from doing business in 2015.

A business can be forfeited when a company doesn’t file a mandatory annual report showing its owner, directors and registered address – or when it does not pay taxes. Reveal couldn’t find other clients or a footprint for the two companies Engelbrecht owned.

Brian Mittendorf, an Ohio State University professor of accounting who specializes in nonprofit accounting said that the records raise several red flags.

“We always have concerns from a governance standpoint about organizations engaging in such transactions with insiders, and the organization’s behavior, in terms of its accounting and inconsistencies, only inflame those concerns,” he said.

Engelbrecht and Phillips’ ties go beyond True the Vote. Their companies have sharedThe same mailing addressEngelbrecht was also in 2016 named the CFO of one of Phillips’ companies. In court filings, a donor later alleged that the two were “lovers,” something they haven’t denied.

When Reveal asked Bopp about their relationship, he said: “I do not know the facts because it’s none of my business, whether they’re in a romantic relationship or not.”

True the Vote Fuels Trump’s Conspiracies

Trump won the 2016 presidential election, just weeks after he had pulled off his amazing victory. an unprecedented claim: Millions had illegally voted in the election. And, he said, that’s why he’d lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton – by what would ultimately be about 2.9 million votes.

He didn’t offer up any evidence. Phillips was finally able to provide evidence several weeks later. appeared on CNNHe claimed that he had the data analysis to prove that he had more than 3 millionPhillips voted illegally in 2016’s election. Phillips, however, refused to show proof and said he needed more time to verify the data.

“(We) believe that it will probably take another few months,” Phillips said.
Trump tweeted shortly after the interview: “Gregg Phillips and crew say at least 3,000,000 votes were illegal. We must do better!”

True the Vote used the opportunity quickly to launch a $1,000,000 fundraising campaign audit its data.

“Our audit team will include world-class technologists, researchers, data miners, statisticians, scholars, analysts, and subject matter experts. This isn’t B team stuff,” Engelbrecht wrote in a fundraising email. “The integrity of our election is too important.”

Engelbrecht, Phillips did not complete their audit and never released the evidence supporting their claims. In a video posted on YouTube in June 2017, Engelbrecht said they dropped the effort because donor promises didn’t materialize.

The organization was founded in 2017. in the red by more than $139,000. Engelbrecht was the only employee reported by the nonprofit, down from 11 in 2012. The $40,607 loan to Engelbrecht remained on the books in 2017, accounting for more than 66% of the nonprofit’s total assets.

True the Vote reported the same the next year. $4,754 in cash.

But that didn’t stop True the Vote from giving ever-growing loans to Engelbrecht. It disclosed an outstanding $61,896 loan for Engelbrecht in 2018. It’s unclear whether Engelbrecht took one loan that grew over the years or multiple loans.

The nonprofit’s tax returns make it difficult to follow.

Lloyd Mayer, a nonprofit law professor at the University of Notre Dame, said there’s “a lot of sloppiness” in the financial statements. Documentation around Engelbrecht’s loan at times contradicted itself, saying in one section she paid it off but then still had a balance in another.

“The changes over time and the fact that in 2017, it doesn’t say which way the money’s flowing, would make me ask if I was in the attorney general’s office, at least ask: Could you clarify?” Mayer said.

In a number of years, True the Vote doesn’t answer important governance questions in its tax filings, such as whether it has policies around conflicts of interest, whistleblowers, document retention and how it determines Engelbrecht’s pay. “Importantly, it fails to answer questions about family or business relationships between officers and board members,” said Styron, the leader of CharityWatch. She called True the Vote “a governance black hole.”

It’s also unclear when Phillips left the board. He claims that he left the board in 2017, according to court documents. However, the 2018 tax returnAs per the original 2019 filing, he was listed as a board member. Phillips didn’t respond to multiple attempts to reach him for comment; he has previously denied wrongdoing in the Mississippi Texas cases.

When True the Vote claimed it filed an amended 2019 return in response to Reveal’s questions, it filled in the governance questions and no longer listed Phillips as a board member. Experts believe that the differences in amended returns are highly unusual.

“To me, that makes no sense,” said Philip Hackney, a former IRS official who teaches tax law at the University of Pittsburgh.

True the Vote’s Plan to Challenge the 2020 Election

Engelbrecht and James Bopp Jr. urged caution as the November 2020 election approached. nonprofit’s podcastDemocrats claimed that they would use the courts to expand mail in voting and that the organization had a plan for challenging it.

“We’re going all in on this,” Engelbrecht said on her show in May 2020. “If you would have asked me two months ago, I would have not told you that litigation was any part of what we plan to do at True the Vote in 2020, but now it’s the most important thing we can do.”

But conservative leaders were sounded the alarm about True the Vote as Election Day approached. A group of panelists were questioned about True the Vote at a private meeting by the Council for National Policy, August 2020. Conservative journalist John Fund said he was the one who’d given Engelbrecht her first national publicity.

“I like Catherine, but she has gone astray. She has been in a relationship with the wrong people. And I have to say this with the greatest of sadness, because I have to be honest with you, because you’re the people who actually have to make decisions on your own about who to support. As much as I like Catherine personally, I would not give her a penny,” he said, according to a recently leaked videoDocumented. “She’s a good person who’s been led astray. Don’t do it.”

Phillips’ latest venture was launched in September 2020. OPSEC Group LLCAlabama incorporation. It was the perfect time: Trump was already there. casting doubt on the upcoming election’s outcome.

Then Election Day arrived and Trump demanded that states stop counting ballots as it appeared Biden would be winning.

He claimed victory, saying — without proof — that he’d been the victim of massive fraud. Trump’s campaign promised action: a legal campaign challenging the outcome in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia. Rumors and conspiracy theories about illegal voting — often in Democratic areas home to Black and Brown voters — ramped up in earnest.

Fred Eshelman watched with angst. Eshelman, a North Carolina-based pharmaceutical entrepreneur, was worried about fraud in the election.

According to records filed as part a lawsuit in rural Austin County Texas (Texas), Eshelman was emailed by a political consultant some of the conspiracies the morning of Nov. 5.

Eight minutes later, Eshelman responded. “This stuff really needs to be verified, quantified, and a massive information campaign launched at American people,” he wrote. “You want a revolt from the Silent Majority, you got it.”

He told the consultant, Tom Crawford, that they needed the best and most powerful public relations firm “cranked up now,” and they had to “figure out how to get it out in spite of the media.”

Bopp sent Engelbrecht an urgent email at 6:36 am that morning. The email’s subject line: “voter fraud and a legal challenge.”

“I have been contacted by a friend with access to substantial funding regarding an idea about lawsuits re voter fraud,” Bopp wrote. “You might be central to that. I would like to discuss.”

Engelbrecht created a pitch for a donor to validate the vote, a litigation plan to challenge the election with data and whistleblower testimony, within hours.

Eshelman accepted the offer and called both teams briefly. According to records, Eshelman wired True The Vote $2 million.

True the Votes’ plan laid out the details: Bopp, touted as the lead attorney in Citizens United and Bush v. Gore, would file lawsuits in seven states across the country to “nullify the results of the state’s election, so that the Presidential Electors can be selected in a special election or by the state legislature.” OPSEC would “aggregate and analyze data to identify patterns of election subversion.” True the Vote would build public momentum and “galvanize Republican legislative support in key states.” The total cost of the campaign: $7.3 million.

“Thank you for this opportunity. We will not let you down,” Engelbrecht wrote in a Nov. 5 email.

They were wrong. Bopp first planned to file lawsuits. Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania Georgia.

But the plan started to show signs of strain a few days later. On Nov. 7, the Associated PressKnown as the election for Biden. Many lawsuits had been filed by Trump’s campaign before then. started to get dismissedMultiple states. Engelbrecht sent an SMS the next day, stating that Eshelman wanted to discuss their game plan.

“He’s getting skittish that we can’t do this because the Trump camp is falling apart and people are jumping ship,” she said.

Still, they pushed ahead and began spending Eshelman’s donation. On Nov. 9, Phillips’ OPSEC submitted a bill to True the Vote for $350,000, according to court records. The invoice for the services is sparse; it bills for “Validate the Vote.” The quantity: one. It includes a litany of items ranging from “data” to “analysis,” “whistleblower” and “security,” all lumped in the six-figure bill.

According to court records Bopp was paid a retainer of $500,000 by True the Vote the next day. According to court records, Engelbrecht was also paid $30,000 by True the Vote.

According to communications, Eshelman began to get impatient around November 11. He wanted to see what the team was discovering through its state of the art computer programs and whistleblower tipline.

“I know you’re running very hard, and I don’t want to pile on. However, I do want to know what money is accomplishing, where this is headed and the odds of winning,” he wrote to Engelbrecht.

Eshelman began to question his team after he failed to receive the concrete follow-ups that Engelbrecht promised.

“I cannot continue to spend millions if this is quixotic,” he wrote to Engelbrecht and the consultant, Crawford, the morning of Nov. 11.

He saw an analogy in his work that could be applied for his new job. It was similar in a drug development process: Get technology, then get the data to support your claims. This wasn’t “rocket science,” he wrote to Crawford. True, the Vote said that both had been handled.

According to court records Engelbrecht stated that by the end, she needed more money for the project. The $2 million hadn’t been enough. The consultant told Eshelman that they may need “additional short term money for Bopp.” Eshelman wired another $500,000 on Nov. 13.

Engelbrecht claimed to know four whistleblowers, but never identified their identities. It led to tension when the consultant contacted Engelbrecht again later to get more information about the whistleblowers.

“I just had a difficult call with Catherine,” Crawford wrote to Eshelman on Nov. 15. “She is resistant to sharing ANY details with us about whistleblowers or the data work and took an ‘I run this’ tone with me.”

That day, Eshelman implored Engelbrecht again to share whatever information she had on data and whistleblowers for the lawsuits so he could send it to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Crawford, who’d said earlier that he had Fox News’ Sean Hannity waiting to break the news.

The consultant updated Eshelman that Graham’s team was “growing more skeptical every hour that passes with nothing from Catherine.” And he shared what he said Cleta Mitchell, an attorney aiding Trump’s attempts to overturn the election, thought of Engelbrecht.

“Again, I am sorry for this headache. Cleta Mitchell, a well known election attorney called to cheer us on for helping Bopp and told me Catherine ‘is crazy as a shithouse rat,’ ” Crawford wrote to Eshelman.

(Mitchell, who once represented True the Vote), denied ever making such a comment. “I’ve never used that term in my life,” she said in an email to Reveal. “I’ve got lots of colloquialisms. That isn’t one of them.”)

True the Vote held a conference call on Nov. 16 with Eshelman, his consultant, and other participants. The big donor was informed that the group had voluntarily dismissed all four lawsuits. Emails reveal that Eshelman was furious at the decision.

“I cannot believe they did this without giving us a chance to get to Trump or be in on the decision,” Eshelman wrote later that day According to records, he was his consultant.

“Very frankly I was physically sick after our call,” Eshelman wrote to Engelbrecht. “I have to tell you this is a total disaster from a coordination, communication, and representation perspective.”

By that point, True the Vote had spent one-third of Eshelman’s gift in 11 days and failed to produce anything meaningful in evidence, the records show.

Engelbrecht stated that they did not meet their funding goals in an email she sent to Bopp and Eshelman following the meeting. She told them that “our not having full funding was well known and often discussed.” She mentioned that she assumed the Trump campaign would be pitching in.

“I’d written in my 11/14 email to you that it appeared our legal fees would have been covered by the Trump campaign, which I described in a statement of our cash position, described as best possible given the tight timeline with so many moving parts,” Engelbrecht wrote in a Nov. 16 email.

Crawford later regretted leaving True the Vote. He told Eshelman he had been told that Bopp “was the guy” they needed for the legal efforts.

“To get him I had to go through True the Vote. Given timing, I ran with that and am just kicking myself as it is clear from many friends and insiders that Catherine is a disaster,” Crawford wrote to Eshelman. “Her story is utter Bullshit.”

Eshelman eventually sued the nonprofit in state and federal court, accusing True the Vote, among others, of using his donation for Engelbrecht, Phillips, and Bopp enrichment. In court filings, True the Vote argues that Eshelman wasn’t entitled to his money back because there were no strings attached to the donation and that the relationship became strained after True the Vote didn’t want to pay a $1 million invoice connected to one of Eshelman’s consultants for communications. (The federal suit was dropped. In the state suit, True the Vote argued that the court didn’t have jurisdiction to handle the dispute, saying it was the purview of the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton. The case was thrown out by a judge who agreed. Eshelman appealed against the decision.

In a recent deposition in a separate lawsuit, Engelbrecht admitted that True the Vote had not identified widespread voter fraud at the time she pitched the Validate the Vote plan to Eshelman, despite proclaiming there was “significant evidence” in the one-page proposal she emailed to him on the project.

“This was a promotional piece,” Engelbrecht said of the document during the deposition, according to court records.

Bopp never served on True the Vote’s board and doesn’t face the same potential conflicts of interest as Engelbrecht and Phillips do for some of their transactions, but he has come under scrutiny for the amount he billed for the aborted legal campaign.

In the court records, Eshelman’s team said Bopp’s firm billed for more than $183,000 over a five- to seven-day period, in addition to more than $97,000 to supervise those attorneys.

“After spending in excess of $280,000 to draft and file the nearly-identical complaints in those cases, Mr. Bopp and his law firm then dismissed them all just days later,” the lawsuit reads. “Not only is the amount charged for these cookie-cutter complaints unconscionable – and likely impossible given the size of his firm (only five attorneys) and the number of hours available – but the goal was actually unachievable.” Eshelman said he later learned that the voter data Bopp sought in the suits would not even have been available before the election results would’ve been certified.

Bopp said there were no cookie-cutter lawsuits – each state had different laws and procedures, requiring lawsuits to be tailored for each. “These people are so ignorant,” he said of Eshelman’s group. “This was ignorance.”

He said he dropped the lawsuits because courts didn’t act on them fast enough for him to acquire voter data.

Bopp said his work was efficient – “remarkably cheap” – and dropping the lawsuits was the financially responsible thing to do. “Why the hell am I being criticized for trying to save my clients money rather than just go forward?” he said. “Knowing that it’s highly unlikely that any of the legal work that I do will bear any fruit whatsoever? I mean, I should be praised for saving the client’s money.”

Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, called the lawsuits “bogus” to begin with. “Jim probably withdrew the lawsuit so that he wouldn’t have to perpetuate a fraud on the court,” he said.

As for the $30,000 payment to Engelbrecht from Eshelman’s donation, Bopp said it was to oversee the project. True, the Vote stated that it was part of her $197,000 annually paid.

And Phillips’ OPSEC continued to bill True the Vote after Eshelman had broken ties, according to court records. OPSEC invoiced the nonprofit for $400,000 on December 7, for a project called Eyes on Georgia.

Phillips and Engelbrecht also had another business in operation at the time. According to Engelbrecht, she was also the president of True the Vote. records, of another software company Phillips owned that had a nearly $800,000 contract with Mississippi’s Department of Information Technology Services.

Engelbrecht and Phillips were granted an extension to their contract at the end of 2020. They renamed their companyIt promises to detect fraud in government programs from AutoGov and CoverMe Services Inc. It is a company that develops software for health care.

The company was awarded a nearly $1.7 million contractFor work through 2023

The Next Voter Challenge: Cellphone data

Trump and True the Vote are moving past the failed election litigation strategy and are now on to the next conspiracy theory: illegal voter harvesting.

That’s when a third party – like a household member, activist group or nursing home – collects and submits absentee ballots on behalf of others, which is legal in a majority of states. This may be a novel angle for Phillips and Engelbrecht but they already have a similar refrain.

In an interview with conservative talk show host Charlie Kirk, Engelbrecht and Phillips said they planned to show their evidence following the May 7 launch of the film “2000 Mules.”

“At some point, shortly after the video runs, we are going to pull the ripcord, we are going to release all of this,” Phillips said.

In a scene that mimics a spy thriller, the film’s trailer depicts two characters, who appear to be Phillips and Engelbrecht, making a tension-filled decision to release earth-shattering information.

The film touts part of True the Vote’s new strategy: using anonymized cellphone data sold by vendors to show when a person was near a ballot dropbox multiple times – ostensibly hinting at “ballot harvesting” activity.

Engelbrecht and Phillips still haven’t released the evidence. One scene in the film shows them claiming to have used cellphone data for the investigation into the murder of a young Atlanta girl. has been debunked.

So far, True the Vote’s cellphone data analysis is not convincing state officials in Wisconsin that illegal votes were cast.

In a hearing in Madison earlier this year, Engelbrecht and Phillips said their analysis suggested people were delivering ballots that weren’t their own.

They declined to provide evidence when they were asked.

Reporter Ese Olumbense contributed to this article. It was edited and copied by Nikki Frick, Sumi Aggarwal, Andrew Donohue et al.

Cassandra Jaramillo is reachable at [email protected]. Follow her Twitter: @cassandrajar.

This story was produced and edited by RevealThe Center for Investigative Reporting, an independent news organization. Learn more at and subscribe to their weekly newsletter at