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Meet The Two Groups Behind Plot To Kick Trump Off The Ballot (And He Isn’t The Only Target)

CREW and the banal-sounding Free Speech for People are leading the campaign to take Trump down with a bogus reading of the 14th Amendment’s ‘insurrection clause.’ 


The left’s insatiable — and arguably quixotic — quest to keep former President Donald Trump off the ballot is a team effort to be sure. But two well-funded leftist groups in particular are leading the charge in the campaign to take Trump down with a bogus reading of the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection clause.” 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the lawfare arm of political strategist David Brock’s network of Democrat-aligned organizations, has dominated national headlines with its Colorado lawsuit — the only “successful” challenge to Trump’s primary ballot status to date. 

The banal-sounding Free Speech for People laid the groundwork for the constitutionally suspect challenges after Trump left office in 2021. The nonprofit has thrown its weight behind a so-called “Section 3” effort, browbeating election offices nationwide to remove Trump from the Republican primary ballot on the spurious grounds that the 45th president promoted an insurrection to overturn the 2020 election. They insist he incited the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“What we’re seeing in Colorado, Maine, even in Wisconsin … is a complete abuse of the Constitution. This is not at all what it was designed to do, the insurrection clause, that they cite,” said Parker Thayer, investigative researcher at Capital Research Center, operator of nonprofit and leftist activist tracker Influence Watch. “They are using bogus legal theories to try and keep one of the leading presidential candidates off the ballot, and they’re doing it entirely with left-wing dark money.”

Thayer is not alone in his assessment. Constitutional law experts expect the U.S. Supreme Court to make quick work of tossing out December’s 4-3 ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court because, as the Public Interest Legal Foundation and former Federal Election Commission member Hans Von Spakovsky assert in court filings, the legal viability of the 14th Amendment’s Section 3, the foundation for the challenge, “is suspect” at best. 

But CREW and its partner in lawfare have perhaps an even bigger goal in mind than their impossible mission to bump Trump from the ballot, Thayer and others assert: They’re building a case to dramatically alter the Supreme Court as we know it. 

Flawed ‘Insurrection Clause’ Argument 

In late December, CREW celebrated arguably its most notorious victory when the Colorado Supreme Court became the first — and only — court thus far to block Trump from the primary ballot. The court’s left-leaning majority agreed with voters represented by CREW. In the 4-3 ruling, the court embraced the narrative that the former president’s “direct and express efforts, over several months, exhorting his supporters to march to the Capitol to prevent what he falsely characterized as an alleged fraud on the people of this country were indisputably overt and voluntary.” 

The state supreme court bought into the specious reasoning that Trump should be disqualified from the presidential ballot based on Section 3 of the post-Civil War 14th Amendment, which bars from certain offices individuals “having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States” if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the government or have given “aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” In the clause’s list of specific offices to which it applies, the presidency is noticeably absent.

Furthermore, the ruling disregards the 14th Amendment’s core principles of due process and equal protection under the law. Trump has not been convicted of any such crime. He is not responsible for the decisions and actions of others, and moreover, poll after poll finds many Americans are unconvinced the Jan. 6 protests and riots constituted an “insurrection.”

Opponents of the ballot-removal lawfare note that when the Democrat-led House of Representatives tried to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection, the U.S. Senate did not convict him of the charge and “no state court has the constitutional authority to overrule the judgement of the Senate.” And, as von Spakovsky and the Public Interest Legal Foundation argue in their amicus brief filed in Colorado Republican State Central Committee v. Norma Anderson, et al., “no court has the authority to enforce Section 3 because Congress has not passed a federal law providing for enforcement.”

A Crusade by Soros-Linked CREW

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington doesn’t concern itself with such constitutional complications. The “nonpartisan” CREW claims it uses “bold legal actions and in-depth investigations” to target “government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests,” even as it does the legal bidding of the far left. 

“CREW’s in-depth investigations that they talk about extend about as far as checking whether it’s a D or R written next to the candidate or politician that they are ‘investigating,’” Thayer, with the Capital Research Center, told me in an interview last month on the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee. “They have a long history of bias, which we have documented on Influence Watch.”

As Influence Watch notes, CREW has “previous connections” with David Brock, a born-again progressive who claims to have had a leftward road to Damascus moment after spending his early years in political journalism reporting on the Clinton scandals. Brock is the brainchild behind the activist group Media Matters for America and Democrat-aligned opposition research super PAC American Bridge 21st Century.

Brock and CREW have deep ties to the biggest names in the movement to reinvent America as a socialist nation.

Not surprisingly, leftist mega donor George Soros and friends populate CREW’s donor base. Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society, for instance, provided $1.4 million in grants to the lawfare organization between 2011 and 2018, according to Candid’s “democracy donors” database. The Soros-funded Open Society Institute chipped in another $1.3 million over the period. Combined, the two Soros “charities” contributed more than 18 percent of the $14.8 million in grants CREW received. 

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, generously seeded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, contributed more than $300,000 to CREW over the period according to the Candid database. SVCF was used to funnel some $328 million in Zuckerberg funds to the leftist Center for Tech and Civic Life for so-called Covid relief grants, according to Influence Watch. “Zuckbucks,” as the grants have become known, helped Democrat activists and party operatives infiltrate local election offices during the 2020 presidential elections. 

Free Speech for Some

In its long-winded descriptor, Free Speech for People asserts it challenges “big money in politics,” fights for “free and fair elections,” and advances “a new jurisprudence grounded in the promises of political equality and democratic self-government.” The national “nonpartisan” organization has devoted the past three years to attempting to usurp democracy in its efforts to remove the Republican Party’s leading presidential candidate from the primary ballot. 

Free Speech for People was at the forefront of the movement to impeach Trump, a campaign that began on the day of the former president’s 2017 inauguration. 

A review of the organization’s donors shows the usual far left suspects — The Tides Foundation, the New World Foundation, and ImpactAssets Inc.

In 2021, before Trump announced his campaign, Free Speech for People began sending letters to election officials in all 50 states demanding they keep Trump off their ballots, according to the Associated Press. They pushed the novel Section 3 theory. 

Free Speech for People has led unsuccessful ballot removal campaigns in several states, with CREW filing amicus briefs. Courts in Democrat bastions like Michigan and Minnesota have rejected the group’s nakedly political lawsuits. 

The lawfare organization tested the insurrection theory in advance of the 2022 midterms, suing to remove U.S. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., from the ballot for her support of the Jan. 6 demonstrations. Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot found the plaintiffs failed to produce evidence to support their claims. 

Greene said the challenge threatening her eligibility was an “unprecedented attack on free speech, on our elections, and on you, the voter.” 

“But the battle is only beginning,” she said at the time. “The left will never stop their war to take away our freedoms.”

‘Pandora’s Box’ 

The Colorado decision is arguably the most important elections case before the U.S. Supreme Court since 2000’s Bush v. Gore. As one election attorney involved in the case told The Federalist this week, “the future of our nation may depend” on the ruling. 

While myriad constitutional law experts believe the high court will quickly end the Colorado Supreme Court’s power play, some believe groups like CREW have bigger fish to fry.

“This is beyond trying to take Donald Trump off the ballot, which I’m sure they would be thrilled with,” Thayer said, adding that CREW got the verdict they were looking for from a left-wing state court knowing the controversy would have to be settled by SCOTUS. “I would hate to be the lawyer who has to argue in favor of this case in front of the Supreme Court because it will be rightfully and quickly shut down.”

When the court does just that, Thayer said the ruling will be used by the left as ammunition to campaign to fundamentally change the top of the third branch, with a renewed campaign to pack the Supreme Court.  

Von Spakovsky, who now serves as a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, agrees the inherently flawed legal theory is being used as “another political weapon against the Supreme Court.” He doesn’t think it will work. 

He said even Democrats see the dangers of allowing one lone state official, like Maine’s highly partisan secretary of state, to remove a candidate from the ballot on charges of “insurrection.” 

“It would open up a pandora’s box,” von Spakovsky said. “What would prevent an official in a red state from removing [President Joe] Biden from the ballot for treason for opening up the border?” 

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