INSTITUTE INDEX: The money behind disinformation attacks on NC voting machines

The leaders of the North Carolina House's far-right Freedom Caucus — from left, Chair Keith Kidwell of Beaufort County, Vice President Bobby Hanig of Currituck County, and Secretary Jeff McNeely of Iredell County — have joined the nationwide Republican campaign that's spreading disinformation about voting machines in service of former President Donald Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election. (Official General Assembly photos.)

Date on which leaders of the North Carolina House's far-right Freedom Caucus held a press conference at which they cited constituents' fears over "rigged elections" — stoked by former President Trump's Big Lie that he won in 2020 — and announced that they want to look inside the state's voting machines to make sure "there's nothing there": 7/15/2021

Number of times that the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections said her team met with Freedom Caucus members to answer their questions, while noting in a July letter to them that giving unauthorized or inexpert people access to the internal workings of voting machines violates Department of Homeland Security guidance: several

Month in which the board itself completed an audit that compared machine counts with hand-to-eye counts to make sure the machines counted ballots correctly: 11/2020

Responding to Trump's Big Lie, month in which the local governing board in Arizona's Maricopa County unanimously authorized a publicly funded examination of ballot counting equipment — the first such move in what has become a broader Republican campaign to press for investigations into the 2020 presidential election, which top U.S. elections agencies called "the most secure in American history": 1/2021

According to a recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice, number of states besides Arizona where such questionable investigations — which proponents call "audits" while critics refer to them as "election review scams" — have made significant headway: 4*

Number of voters in Georgia's populous Fulton County — where the 2020 elections have been the target of a conservative disinformation campaign — who are suing to be allowed to review the presidential election results there: 10

In North Carolina, amount of evidence that the Freedom Caucus leaders — Chair Keith Kidwell of Beaufort County, Vice President Bobby Hanig of Currituck County, and Secretary Jeff McNeely of Iredell County — admit they have to back up their stated concerns about equipment inside voting machines capable of remotely changing vote counts: none

Rank of the North Carolina Republican Party among the top donors to Kidwell's, Hanig's, and McNeeley's campaigns combined: 1

Among the top individual donors to the North Carolina Republican Party over the past decade, rank of millionaire Raleigh businessman and GOP power broker Art Pope, whose flagship think tank has written sympathetically about the Freedom Caucus effort, and whose education think tank's board members include U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): 1

Date on which Foxx voted against certifying President Biden's win in Pennsylvania: 1/7/2021

Among the top donors to the Freedom Caucus, excluding the caucus leaders themselves, rank of North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore's campaign committee: 2

Besides the state GOP, rank of the trial lawyers' association, the realtors' association, and Duke Energy, respectively, among Moore's biggest donors: 1, 2, 3

Rank among the Freedom Caucus's top donors of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, a group headquartered in Georgia that represents about 58,000 federal, state, county, and municipal law enforcement officers in 11 states including North Carolina: 3

Rank of the North Carolina Association of Realtors, which has long been a major power player at the legislature: 4

Rank of the North Carolina Healthcare Association, whose members include the state's major hospitals and health care systems: 5

Date on which the North Carolina elections board unveiled a new webpage to combat misinformation and disinformation about the 2020 elections, asking people to think before they link, listen to trusted sources, know their news sources, and report misinformation on social media: 4/1/2021

According to state elections officials nationwide, rank of misinformation among the top threats to elections today: 1

* Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

(Click on figure to go to source.)