Trump fan who gave $2.5m to election fraud hunters wants money back

  • A venture capitalist who gave $2.5 million to a pro-Trump group that said it was trying to find evidence of election fraud is now looking for a refund.
  • A lawsuit said Fred Eshelman gave vast sums to Texas-based True the Vote, but was soon disappointed with its efforts.
  • True the Vote had mounted lawsuits in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, but later dropped them. It says it is nonetheless still investigating fraud allegations.
  • Eshelman said that he pressed True the Vote for details of how it was spending his money, but instead got “platitudes, and empty promises.”
  • President Trump is also yet to make any headway with his baseless claims that the election was compromised by mass voter fraud.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A venture capitalist who donated $2.5 million to a pro-Trump group trying to find evidence of fraud in the presidential election now wants a refund after being disappointed with their efforts.

Fred Eshelman is suing True the Vote Inc., a monitoring organization based in Houston, Texas, to reclaim the money.

The lawsuit claimed Eshelman sent $2 million to True the Vote on November 5, two days after Election Day.

At this point no winner had been called, but Joe Biden was by most tallies ahead of President Donald Trump, who had long claimed, albeit with no evidence, that the election was vulnerable to fraud.

The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg, said that Eshelman sent another $500,000 to True the Vote a week later, by which time media outlets including Insider had long called the election for Biden.

Business Insider also obtained a copy of Eshelman’s complaint.

Eshelman is the founder of Eshelman Ventures LLC and used to be a pharmaceuticals executive, according to the company.

Trump continued to claim the election had been stolen, and was mounting legal challenges. He had still not conceded at the time of writing.

The lawsuit said that Eshelman “regularly and repeatedly” asked for updates on how True the Vote was using his money, and that he sought specific and actionable updates” about True the Vote’s “purported investigation, litigation, and communication efforts in key states.”

But it said he was “consistently met with vague responses, platitudes, and empty promises of follow-up that never occurred.”

The lawsuit accuses True the Vote of beach of contract, and also “conversion,” a legal concept linked to the misuse of someone else’s property.

It said he asked for a refund, at which point True the Vote offered to return $1 million so long as he did not sue them.

The lawsuit said that True the Vote promised to launch lawsuits in swing states, to gather whistleblower complaints about issues with the election, and to conduct “sophisticated data modeling and statistical analysis to identify potential illegal or fraudulent balloting.”

True the Vote announced on November 17 that it was dropping its lawsuits in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

The lawsuit said that Eshelman was “not provided any specific update on the status or strategy behind those cases.”

The group’s president and founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, blamed “barriers to advancing our arguments, coupled with constraints on time.”

She the group was continuing to investigate issues in the US electoral system and argued that the lawsuits only represented a “fraction” of its work.

Business Insider has contacted True the Vote for comment. It did not respond to a request from Bloomberg.

President Donald Trump has refused to concede the presidential election to Joe Biden, and has instead spread baseless theories around voter fraud.

His campaign has filed  its own lawsuits in battleground states, though it is yet to win any of them.

It also launched a hotline for people to share testimony about election fraud, but it ended up being overwhelmed with prank calls.

Trump said on Thursday that he would “certainly” leave the White House if Joe Biden wins the Electoral College.

It was the closest that he has come to conceding the election, though he later insisted via Twitter that he won.

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