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This Former Trump Lawyer Wants You to Disrupt the 2022 Midterms

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A spacious ballroom at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix was packed the weekend of March 11 with scores of Donald Trump loyalists still fuming about widely debunked claims that Joe Biden won the 2020 election thanks to rampant fraud. Dubbed an “election integrity summit,” the gathering was the handiwork of Trump’s former legal adviser, the veteran conservative activist Cleta Mitchell. And while Mitchell has garnered national attention for riling up Trumpists with false claims of election fraud in Georgia after the state was called for Biden, she’s now quietly channeling that anger into mobilizing activists to aggressively combat the specter of voting fraud in the next battle: the 2022 midterm elections.

Mitchell organized the Arizona summit on behalf of the Conservative Partnership Institute, a nonprofit that raked in $1 million from Trump’s leadership PAC last year. Founded in 2017 by former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, CPI has become a hub for the Big Lie in exile, with former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows signing up as senior partner shortly after leaving the White House last year, and Mitchell joining in March 2021 as senior legal fellow. CPI boasted revenue of $5.3 million in fiscal 2019, has arranged D.C. internships for young conservatives, and has worked with other right-wing groups to push conservative goals.

But central to the institute’s current mission is Mitchell, who leads its self-styled “election integrity network.” She has engineered a roaming series of summits this year in states Republicans hope to swing back in 2024: Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, and Nevada—along with the perennial battleground Florida, which Trump won. Mitchell has sold the network as a way to create state and local election “infrastructure,” which includes advocating unorthodox surveillance tactics of election officials and operations to ferret out any hints of fraud—real, or more often hypothetical.

One notable speaker at the summit, whom Mitchell interviewed on a stage, was Karen Fann, the Arizona state Senate president and 2022 national chairwoman of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that promotes model laws for states to adopt, and that Mitchell has previously advised. Arizona has already passed one anti-voting law this year, imposing onerous restrictions to prove citizenship before registering to vote, and the state legislature is currently considering a raft of other measures that would empower state officials to conduct further reviews of elections.

One attendee of the Phoenix summit, who asked for anonymity, told me that “the event definitely used the false allegations of fraud in 2020 as a call to action to rally support for vigilant engagement this year in the election process,” to spur more robust monitoring of polling sites. The attendee added:........

© New Republic

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