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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell spent $25 million to push false pro-Trump election claims


Founder and CEO of My Pillow, conservative political activist and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell (C) listens to former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a “Save America” rally at York Family Farms on August 21, 2021 in Cullman, Alabama.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell told CNBC he is ready to go broke pushing the false claim that the election was stolen from Donald Trump while proclaiming that the election system needs extensive changes.

Lindell said he has spent $25 million of his own money since Election Day to fuel his campaign. And he plans to keep spending to continue his crusade going into the 2022 midterm elections.

“I will keep spending it because there is no tomorrow. We lose our country. We either only have two paths: either it gets changed before the 2022 election or we lose our country forever. I will spend every dime I have,” Lindell told CNBC during a nearly hourlong interview Wednesday. “I will spend whatever it takes.”

Trump himself has continued to spread the lie that the election was rigged against him.

Efforts like Lindell’s are likely to continue encouraging mistrust among Trump supporters in the election system. His comments also underscore the intensity driving Trump’s allies and supporters as the former president considers whether to run again – and as the nation prepares for the 2022 midterm elections. A Reuters/Ipsos poll from May showed that a majority of Republicans surveyed still believe Trump, a Republican, actually defeated now-President Joe Biden, a Democrat, over a year ago.

Lindell’s comments also come after the House voted to refer Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to the Justice Department for criminal contempt, for stonewalling the committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. A mob fueled by false election claims made by Trump and his allies stormed Capitol Hill that day.

The House select committee investigating the insurrection told CNBC that it is interested in the funding of events that led up to the day. Lindell is linked to Women for America First, the main group that helped organize the pro-Trump rally in Washington that preceded the Capitol invasion.

“The sources and destinations of funding for events leading up to the violence of January 6th are key areas of interest for the Select Committee,” a Jan. 6 committee aide told CNBC late Wednesday.

Lindell has said he believes that China had a role in interfering with the election. A government report declassified by the Director of National Intelligence earlier this year said there was no proof that foreign actors attempted to alter technical aspects of the voting process. William Barr, one of Trump’s former attorneys general, said there was no widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election. The election-rigging claims have also been rejected by several courts.

Where the money went

Lindell has a net worth of about $50 million, according to data from website Celebrity Net Worth. Lindell’s crusade to make changes to the election system has weighed on his company’s revenue, he said. MyPillow lost $80 million in sales after retailers pulled his products off the shelves over his election claims, Lindell said.

Lindell said the $25 million he spent so far on his effort to fight the legal election results went in part toward what he says are lawyers, cyber investigators and his cyber symposium earlier this year.

He estimated that $500,000 of the total went toward lawyers representing him in lawsuits related to his false claims, such as the $1.3 billion suit by voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems and a $1.6 billion countersuit brought by MyPillow against Dominion.

Lindell said some of the money is being used to help hire lawyers for people such as Tina Peters, a Republican county clerk in Colorado who has questioned the integrity of the election.

Lindell declined to provide names of the lawyers and investigators that he has assembled to be part of this larger effort.

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He also said money went toward a network of organizations aligned with his stance on the election.

Lindell recently discussed this network of groups, called Cause of America, on his online channel Lindell TV. Leaders of another organization with similar stances on the 2020 election, called the U.S. Election Integrity Plan, appear next to Lindell during their announcement in a video discussing their new plans.

“We are in 44 states now. We’re doing canvassing efforts. I’ll give an example. In Florida, we canvassed 10,000 people’s names, and 2,600 of them were phantom voters,” Lindell told CNBC. “Phantom voter” is a term used to describe a ballot allegedly cast by a dead person.

Cause of America’s website says it is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization “focused on election integrity.” It goes on to say that the “organization exists to enable and facilitate grassroots citizen action to conduct, control, manage, monitor, and verify their elections on  local, state, and national levels.”

It features a picture of Lindell holding an American flag. The website also says the group is “about building a network of individuals, organizations, and partners who can learn from each other and work together to solve the most pressing issue facing our nation – free and fair elections.”

Ties to Jan. 6 rally organizers

Lindell’s efforts have drawn the attention of the House select committee that is investigating the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Lindell has denied having any role in what happened that day.

Investigators discussed with at least one witness whether Lindell helped fund a group that led in organizing a rally that preceded Trump supporters’ attack on Congress, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The leaders of Women for America First have previously told associates that Lindell was a financial supporter of the organization, multiple people familiar with the matter said. The group’s leaders, who are under scrutiny by the select committee, claimed to people that Lindell spent between $250,000 and $600,000 to fund the organization, these people said.

Women for America First were permit holders for the Jan.6 rally in Washington. It was at their rally where Trump called on his supporters to march on Capitol Hill as lawmakers were attempting to certify the election for Biden. The Jan. 6 committee has subpoenaed leaders of the group, including Cynthia Chafian, who submitted the first permit application on behalf of Women for America First, and Amy Kremer and Kylie Jane Kremer, who are seen as the group’s founders.

Lindell denied he was a donor to Women for America First, but he confirmed that MyPillow paid $100,000 to the organization for a sponsorship ad on the group’s bus, which traveled to various pro-Trump rallies across the country from November 2020 until mid-December that year. Pictures of the Women for America First bus show the MyPillow sign on the side of the vehicle. That group later organized what it called a “caravan” to Washington on Jan. 5.

The bus tour was called “March for Trump,” and it went several places including Iowa, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., in December. Many of the speakers at the stops made unsubstantiated claims about the election, such as that the vote was “stolen” and that the election was an act of “treason.”

Lindell told the December crowd in Washington that he was in touch with Trump’s legal advisors, such as Sidney Powell, after the election.

“I talked to Sidney Powell last night and she put, right now it’s in the Supreme Court, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia and that’s the real lawsuits. That the stuff that Texas had was not the one that we were all working on,” Lindell told the crowd.

A spokesman for Women for America First did not respond to requests for comment.



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2021-12-16 15:28:46

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