INSTITUTE INDEX: Meet the conservative powerbroker suing True the Vote over fraud claims flop

Fred Eshelman (left), seen here with former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, is a pharmaceutical industry entrepreneur and conservative political donor who recently sued Houston-based True the Vote in an effort to claw back money he gave them to try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Eshelman has also donated at least $140 million to the UNC School of Pharmacy, which was named for him in 2008. (Photo via the North Carolina governor's office Flickr account.)

Date on which Fredric "Fred" Eshelman — a North Carolina pharmaceutical industry entrepreneur, investor, and donor to conservative political causes — sued Houston-based True the Vote for what he said was a lack of action to substantiate its claims of fraud in the presidential election, and for being unresponsive to his inquiries into how his donations were being spent: 11/25/2020

Amount Eshelman contributed to the vote-monitoring group, an offshoot of a local Tea Party organization, for its so-called "Validate the Vote" program launched shortly after the 2020 election to reverse President Trump's loss to Joe Biden: $2.5 million

Amount the lawsuit claims True the Vote attorney James Bopp, who served as vice chair of the Republican National Committee from 2008 to 2012, offered to return to Eshelman if he agreed not to sue the group: $1 million

Date on which True the Vote, unable to gather evidence to support its fraud claims, dropped lawsuits in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin that it wanted to get to the U.S. Supreme Court with its new 6-3 conservative majority thanks to three Trump appointments: 11/16/2020

Year in which True the Vote was accused of engaging in voter intimidation at Hispanic and African American polling sites: 2010

That same year, amount Eshelman contributed to a now-defunct conservative political group called — based in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Eshelman lives, and for which he served as president and treasurer — to pay for attack ads against Democrats running for the U.S. Senate, making him the group's primary donor: over $3 million

Amount Eshelman contributed to in the final months of the 2008 election to pay for a barrage of attack ads against Barack Obama, part of his overall pattern of giving far more to outside groups than Republican Party organizations: more than $5.4 million

Date on which an analyst with the Tax Foundation — a business-friendly, nonpartisan tax research group — called a misleading ad about Obama's tax plan "so ridiculous that I'm almost at a loss for words": 9/29/2008

Besides Eshelman, number of other founding directors of, with the others serving in the North Carolina legislature: 2

Year in which one of those directors, former state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell of Concord, pleaded guilty to federal fraud and tax charges related to misuse of campaign funds: 2017

Amount Eshelman contributed to Hartsell's legal defense fund: $160,000

Year in which Eshelman co-founded a conservative attack group called Real Jobs NC, whose board members included GOP mega-donor Art Pope, and which played a key role in helping Republicans win control of the state House and Senate for the first time since 1898 and thus the redistricting process: 2010

Amount the Republican State Leadership Committee steered into Real Jobs NC in 2010 as part of the REDMAP campaign to flip state legislatures in time for redistricting: $1.25 million

Year in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that congressional districts drawn by North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders: 2017

(Click on figure to go to source.)