Republicans Back Ex-Trump Attorney Eastman at Tea Party Dinner

Republicans Back Ex-Trump Attorney Eastman at Tea Party Dinner

Former Chapman Law School dean John Eastman speaks at a Tea Party dinner in Burlingame, Calif., on May 18, 2024. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

5/28/2024

Updated: 5/29/2024

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BURLINGAME, Calif.—Nearly 200 conservatives rallied around embattled constitutional scholar and attorney John Eastman at a Tea Party dinner May 18.
Mr. Eastman, a former attorney of former President Donald Trump, recounted the political backlash he has received for questioning the integrity of the 2020 presidential election and how he fell prey to “lawfare.”
The well-respected former dean of Chapman Law School pointed out several examples of alleged illegalities in the election and compared the retaliation against him to the old English law of seditious libel for which truth was not legal defense for claims against the crown.
“If you criticized the government, you could be prosecuted for seditious libel, and truth was not a defense because the greater the truth, the greater the libel, the greater the harm to government,” he told the crowd at a restaurant a few miles from the California Republican Party convention, where Lara Trump was the keynote speaker.
Such laws led to the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment, he noted, warning that America has strayed from those rights and protections.
“When I can prove everything, I’ve said, and it’s true, and it calls the government into disrepute ... they fear that. That’s what we have documented,” he said.
He also questioned the influence of more than $400 million in what’s known as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative—led by Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan—donated through the Chicago-based Center for Technology and Civic Life for its Safe Elections Project.
Critics claim these grants, widely known as “Zuckerbucks” or “Zuck Bucks,” to county election offices in 47 states and the District of Columbia to supposedly help offset COVID-19-related costs during the 2020 election had less to do with such and more to do with bolstering Democrat turnout in several swing states.
“People on our side of the political aisle said this was a surprise [and] there weren’t any laws prohibiting somebody from kicking in a half a billion dollars to influence the outcome of the election. I’m sorry, there were laws aplenty,” Mr. Eastman said. “If he did it in coordination with the Biden campaign, it’s a campaign expenditure, and there’s a limit on campaign expenditures of $3,200. Last I checked, a half a billion is a little bit more than $3,200.”
Even if there was no coordinated effort with the campaign, “which I find hard to believe, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt,” Mr. Eastman said, “targeting heavily Democrat areas with a half a billion dollars for voter turnout efforts is a campaign expenditure. It’s not a neutral get-out-the vote effort.”
A judge has recommended that Mr. Eastman’s law license, which has been suspended, be revoked. Above, Mr. Eastman speaking in Burlingame, Calif., on May 18, 2024. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

A judge has recommended that Mr. Eastman’s law license, which has been suspended, be revoked. Above, Mr. Eastman speaking in Burlingame, Calif., on May 18, 2024. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Zuckerberg was legally obligated to report the money as an independent expenditure, but he didn’t, Mr. Eastman said.
“That’s illegal. He funneled this money through a nonprofit that violates IRS laws. That’s illegal. If he did it in coordination with the campaign, it’s illegal,” he said. “So, anybody that tells you that wasn’t illegal at the time ... [doesn’t] know what they’re talking about. It was illegal halfway to Sunday.”
Zuckerbucks, he claimed, certainly affected the outcome of the election.
However, the Federal Election Commission in 2022 unanimously voted 6–0 to dismiss a complaint over the grants saying there was “no reason to believe” there was any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Zuckerberg, Ms. Chan, or the nonprofit.
But in February, the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on House Administration held a hearing on private donations used to help fund the administration of elections, including those provided by the Center for Tech and Civic Life in 2020.
Republicans on the committee claimed “Zuckerbucks” flowed disproportionately to Democratic-leaning jurisdictions.
The hearing prompted U.S. Rep Claudia Tenney, founder and co-chair of the Election Integrity Caucus, to introduce legislation called the End Zuckerbucks Act, in March 2023.
“Twenty-eight states have banned Zuckerbucks, prohibiting partisan bureaucrats, billionaires, and corrupt special interest groups from interfering in our election process. It’s time for the federal government to follow suit,” Ms. Tenney said in a statement earlier this month when the bill advanced in the Ways and Means Committee.
The chairman of that committee agreed.
“During the 2020 election cycle, we saw private donations worth hundreds of millions of dollars laundered through 501(c)(3) organizations into Democrat-run cities and counties in swing states that appeared to favor one political party over another,” said Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith. “The U.S. Tax Code should not be used to support the electioneering efforts of wealthy private donors.”
Mr. Smith said the End Zuckerbucks Act would protect the integrity of elections by prohibiting charitable tax-exempt organizations from providing direct funding to official election organizations.
Since the 2020 election, some states have banned private money and nonprofits from funding the elections process but Republicans want such abolished in the 22 states that still allow it.
One such state that did away with the practice is Wisconsin.
Mr. Eastman recounted, during his talk, that for two Saturdays leading up to the 2020 election in Madison, Wisconsin—where the state margin for Joe Biden ultimately was about 20,600 votes—“a thing called Democracy in the Park” involved not only drop boxes but also “human drop boxes” which were illegal, he said.
The volunteers, who collected the ballots were “probably Biden campaign workers” who harvested as many ballots they could at the University of Wisconsin, Mr. Eastman said.
“They collected 17,500 ballots in this illegal scheme,” he said. “They claimed it was with no coordination with the Biden campaign, but moments after they announced it, Biden had on-the-air pre-recorded public service announcements encouraging people to go vote in the Democracy in the Park human drop box effort.
Mr. Eastman received a robust standing ovation after his speech.
Meanwhile, Yvette Roland, a Democrat-appointed State Bar of California judge, has recommended that Mr. Eastman’s law license, which has been suspended, be revoked.
Mr. Eastman told The Epoch Times he will appeal the decision.
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Brad Jones

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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