- A venture capitalist who gave $2.5 million to a pro-Trump group that said it was trying to find evidence of election fraud is now looking for a refund.
- A lawsuit said Fred Eshelman gave vast sums to the Texas-based True the Vote Inc. but was soon disappointed with its efforts.
- True the Vote mounted lawsuits in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin but later dropped them. It says it is nonetheless still investigating fraud allegations.
- Eshelman said he pressed True the Vote for details of how it was spending his money but instead got “platitudes, and empty promises.”
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A venture capitalist who donated $2.5 million to a pro-Trump group trying to find evidence of fraud in the US election wants a refund after being disappointed with the group’s efforts.
Fred Eshelman is suing True the Vote Inc., a monitoring organization based in Houston, to reclaim the money.
The lawsuit says Eshelman sent $2 million to True the Vote on November 5, two days after Election Day.
At this point no winner had been called, but Joe Biden was by most tallies ahead of President Donald Trump, who had long claimed without evidence that the election was vulnerable to fraud.
The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg, said Eshelman sent another $500,000 to True the Vote a week later, by which time media outlets including Insider had long called the election for Biden.
Business Insider also obtained a copy of Eshelman’s complaint.
Eshelman is the founder of Eshelman Ventures LLC and used to be a pharmaceuticals executive, according to the company.
Trump has continued to claim the election was stolen, mounting a disjointed legal effort to challenge the result. He had still not conceded as of Friday morning.
The lawsuit said that Eshelman “regularly and repeatedly” asked for updates on how True the Vote was using his money and that he sought “specific and actionable updates” about True the Vote’s “purported investigation, litigation, and communication efforts in key states.”
But it said he was “consistently met with vague responses, platitudes, and empty promises of follow-up that never occurred.”
The lawsuit accuses True the Vote of breach of contract, and also “conversion,” a legal concept linked to the misuse of someone else’s property.
It said he asked for a refund, at which point True the Vote offered to return $1 million so long as he did not sue the group.
The lawsuit said True the Vote promised to launch lawsuits in swing states, to gather whistleblower complaints about issues with the election, and to conduct “sophisticated data modeling and statistical analysis to identify potential illegal or fraudulent balloting.”
True the Vote announced on November 17 that it was dropping lawsuits it had brought in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Eshelman’s lawsuit said he was “not provided any specific update on the status or strategy behind those cases.”
The group’s president and founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, blamed “barriers to advancing our arguments, coupled with constraints on time.”
She said the group was continuing to investigate issues in the US electoral system and argued that the lawsuits represented only a “fraction” of its work.
Business Insider has contacted True the Vote for comment. It did not respond to a request from Bloomberg.
The Trump campaign has filed its own lawsuits in battleground states, though it is yet to win any of them.
It also launched a hotline for people to share testimony about election fraud, but it ended up being overwhelmed with prank calls.
Trump said on Thursday that he would “certainly” leave the White House if Joe Biden won the Electoral College, which is scheduled to formally vote on December 14.
It was the closest he had come to conceding the election, though he later insisted via Twitter that he won.