Honest Elections Project

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Honest Elections Project (HEP) is a dark money voter suppression group formed in February 2020 that is a project of The 85 Fund.[1] The 85 Fund is the new legal name for the Judicial Education Project, a group closely linked to Leonard Leo that has played an integral role in Trump's effort to fill the federal judiciary with right-wing judges.[1]

HEP is led by Jason Snead, former senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation where he was tasked with developing the Heritage Election Fraud Database.[2]

HEP has a sister organization, HEP Action, but as of March 2021 it is unclear if this is a project of another Leo nonprofit or if it is registered as an independent organization.[3]

News and Controversies

Honest Elections Project Co-Hosts “Secretaries of State Conference” with Heritage Foundation

The Center for Media and Democracy obtained an invitation for a “Secretaries of State Conference” co-hosted by The Honest Elections Project (HEP) and the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation on April 12-13, 2022. [4]

Honest Elections Project Holds "HEP Academy Part Two" for State Lawmakers

The Honest Elections Project held a second voter suppression academy with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) state lawmakers on November 29 and 30 before ALEC's 2021 States and Nation Policy Summit, an invitation obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy shows.[5]

The invitation states that, “Over the summer, we discussed best practices for securing a state’s elections. Now, on November 29 and 30, we’ll work with you on how to put these proven methods into practice, from direct litigation strategies, to workshops with leading election experts, to messaging techniques.”

Honest Elections Project Developing Model Policies Around Voting with ALEC

"ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson Discusses 2021 Election Efforts"

The American Legislative Exchange Council has outsourced its production of model policies around voting to the Honest Elections Project.[6] In a panel discussion at the Christian Right Council for National Policy's 40th Anniversary meeting titled, “Saving America Through the States” that also featured ALEC’s national chairman and Utah State Senate President J. Stuart Adams, Mississippi Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn, and future Florida Speaker of the House Rep. Danny Perez, ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson said, “We don’t have model [voting] policy...We will be developing that at the Honest Elections Project [seminar], through them.”[6]

ALEC Holds “Exclusive, Invitation-Only Academy” for State Lawmakers with the Honest Elections Project

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held an “exclusive, invitation-only academy” for state lawmakers with the Honest Elections Project on July 26-28 in Salt Lake City, Utah prior to the start of its Annual Meeting.[7] Over the 2.5-day “fun and educational event,” attendees participated in “panel discussions featuring legislators and experts on both state and federal election related policies, as well as expert-led talks on polling, litigation, and federal overreach."[7] Legislators participated in “roundtable discussions on what states have done to improve election integrity,” the Republicans’ buzz phrase for making it harder to vote. In addition, three Secretaries of State were invited “to discuss the implementation of new election legislation.”[7]

HEP Makes $250,000 TV Ad Buy Opposing Mail-In Voting

HEP Ad "Hard to Cheat"

HEP announced a $250,000 TV ad campaign opposing mail-in voting the week of April 13 airing on on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN to protect against the “brazen attempt to manipulate the election system for partisan advantage.”[8]

Jason Snead, HEP's executive director, told NBC News, “there are a lot more opportunities for malfeasance” with mail-in voting.[8] The Brennan Center disagrees, saying, "While mail ballots are more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting, it is still more likely for an American to be struck by lightning than to commit mail voting fraud."[9]

Honest Election Project Files Briefs in Favor of Voter Suppression Measures

As of May 2020, HEP has filed "briefs in favor of voting restrictions in Nevada, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among other places, at times represented by lawyers from the same firm that represents Trump," The Guardian reported.[1]

Honest Elections Project Threatens Election Officials With Legal Action if They Do Not Purge Voter Rolls

As of May 2020, HEP had "facilitated letters to election officials in Colorado, Florida and Michigan, using misleading data to accuse jurisdictions of having bloated voter rolls and threatening legal action," The Guardian reported.[1]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Honest Elections Project has held at least two voter suppression academies with ALEC lawmakers (see above). ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson also discolsed at a Council for National Policy (see above) that ALEC had outsourced model policy creation around voting to the Honest Elections Project. ALEC also scheduled an "exclusive" call for its members on June 9, 2020 with HEP and a "former FEC official" on mail-in voting.[10]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our ExposedbyCMD.org site.

Funding

HEP is not required to disclose its funding information, but The Center for Media and Democracy revealed that its parent organization The 85 Fund received $48.7 million in 2020 from the preferred donor conduit of the Koch political network DonorsTrust.[11] "In addition to $19.9 million for general support and $6 million earmarked for judicial nomination fights under the guise of judicial or court 'education,' The 85 Fund received millions more that appear to be designated for specific projects or regranting to a wide variety of groups, including the Honest Elections Project, Federalist Society, Public Interest Legal Foundation, Independent Women’s Forum, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mercatus Center, and Turning Point USA.[11]

Core Financials

See core financials of The 85 Fund.

Personnel

As of May 2020:[2]

Staff

  • Jason Snead, Executive Director

Contact Information

Honest Elections Project

Website: https://www.honestelections.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/honestelections
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/honestelections

Articles and Resources

Articles

Related Sourcewatch Pages

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sam Levine and Anna Massoglia, Revealed: conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network, The Guardian, May 27, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Honest Elections Project, About, Honest Elections Project, May 2020.
  3. Honest Elections Project, HONEST ELECTIONS’ MEMO ON INJECTING REALITY INTO THE ELECTION REFORM DEBATE, HEP, accessed March 24, 2021.
  4. David Armiak, Honest Elections Project and Heritage Foundation “Secretaries of State Conference” Invitation, April 12-14, 2022, ExposedbyCMD, March 31, 2022.
  5. Exposedbycmd, Honest Elections Academy Part Two Invitation, ExposedbyCMD, December 13, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 David Armiak, ALEC Lied About Its Work on Election Suppression Bills, ExposedbyCMD, September 1, 2021.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 David Armiak, Dark Money Voter Suppression Group Holds “Academy” for Lawmakers Before ALEC Annual Meeting, ExposedbyCMD, July 26, 2021.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Leigh Ann Caldwell, Conservative group to launch ads opposing mail-in voting, NBC News, April 13, 2020.
  9. Wendy R. Weiser and Harold Ekeh, The False Narrative of Vote-by-Mail Fraud, The Brennan Center, April 10, 2020.
  10. eventbrite,ALEC Invite to "Mail-In Voting: Exclusive Call with Former FEC Official & Honest Elections, eventbrite, June 2020.
  11. 11.0 11.1 David Armiak, “Dark Money ATM” Pumped Over $137 Million into Right-Wing Groups in 2020, ExposedbyCMD, November 19, 2021.