Well, why not? Donors to Jill Stein’s ludicrous efforts to recount states with too-large-to-change gaps wasted their money while promising the undeliverable. Her fantasies about roving bands of hackers carrying floppy disks visiting every voting machine in only states that Donald Trump won turned out to be paranoid delusions. Wisconsin’s statewide recount, 70% of which was done by hand, produced only a 0.055% change in the outcome … and increased Trump’s lead by 131 votes. Michigan’s results before the recount got shut down at the 40% mark show a similarly small net change (0.078%).
Fresh off of that success, Stein now wants donors to vote on how to use whatever money is left over:
At latest count, Stein had raised $7.33 million for the recount in just 2.5 weeks, and from more than 161,000 donors. The campaign’s latest estimate of costs puts the total recount-related expenses at about $7.4 million — meaning as of now, there would not necessarily be money left over. However, the campaign noted that some costs, such as compliance costs and legal fees for ongoing litigation, could be reduced from their estimates today. In addition, Stein’s campaign expects to receive some of the filing fee back from Michigan, where a recount was started but not completed. …
Stein’s campaign is planning to reach out to each of its 161,000 donors and ask them to vote on which “non-partisan election reform and voting rights organizations” will receive the leftover money. The campaign did not immediately release a list of possible organizations, but said it will do so “in the coming weeks” when it begins surveying donors.
Many suspected that the “organization” that the recount campaign was intended to benefit was Jill Stein. She raised more than twice as much money for the recounts than she did for the entire presidential cycle ($3,509,477), and did it in less than three weeks. That’s pretty curious, actually; how did a fringe candidate raise so much cash so quickly, far more than she had taken in over several months?
How was the money spent? Mostly on lawyers and filing fees, as one would expect:
Included in that $7.4 million estimate is just under $4.5 million for state filing fees, $1.6 million for legal fees, $212,500 for staff salaries, $364,000 for consultants and $353,618 for administrative expenses.
Michigan will refund at least some of the money Stein paid, but her donors shouldn’t expect a windfall:
Under state law, Stein had to pay $125 per precinct — or $973,250 — to count Michigan’s 7,786 in-person and absentee voting precincts. That check was delivered to state officials when she requested the recount last week. …
Ingham County is the only one of Michigan’s 83 counties that was done with its recount of 115 precincts and six that couldn’t be counted because ballot containers were improperly sealed. Oakland finished 667 out of 1,025 precincts with 35 precincts unable to be recounted. Macomb finished 171 of 670 precincts with 14 not recountable and Wayne counted 411 of 1,680 precincts, but couldn’t recount 128 precincts because of mistakes.
“That’s fair, that we pay the fee for the ones that were counted,” said Stein’s attorney, Mark Brewer. “The law provides that for the precincts that were unrecountable, that she should get a refund.”
Perhaps the issue of fairness should prompt Stein to refund the unused portion of her recount fund back to where she got it — the donors themselves. After all, they coughed up the cash based on Stein’s assertions that fraud would get uncovered in the recounts and that they had standing to demand recounts in all three states. Both were proven laughably false, and in Pennsylvania her lawyers had to admit they had no evidence at all of tampering.
Of course, the donors presumably will have the option of asking for their money back in Stein’s upcoming vote, right? We’ll soon see. Will Stein have observers for this referendum? Can donors call for a recount of the results?