FORT LAUDERDALE — A group run by one of former President Donald Trump’s most prominent election conspiracy adherents, reacting to accusations it was illegally seeking donations in Florida, has registered with the state and says it will raise $7 million, documents released Wednesday show.
The office of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, which polices charities, said it has approved paperwork filed by attorney Sidney Powell’s Defending the Republic group. Fried’s office had filed an administrative complaint last month against the group, accusing it of seeking donations without registering with the state as required. The group filed its paperwork a few days later.
Fried spokesman Franco Ripple said the office and Defending the Republic, which is based in West Palm Beach, are negotiating what punishment the group should receive for beginning operations before registering. That will include a fine, Ripple said.
Fried is Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat. She is seeking her party’s nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally, in next year’s election.
Powell did not return a phone message left Wednesday at her Dallas law office. She is best known for saying in November that a lawsuit she filed would unleash a Kraken, a mythical sea creature, that would destroy President Joe Biden’s claim on the White House. It went nowhere.
In the paperwork filed with the state, Defending the Republic said it expects to raise almost $7.2 million during a fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. It said $6 million will be spent on undefined programs, $900,000 on management and nearly $300,000 on fundraising. Among its purposes listed, it says it will “take action in courts across the country to protect election integrity.”
Trump and his allies filed more than 50 lawsuits in multiple states over the election and lost at every turn. Powell and Rudy Giuliani were among the lawyers behind the cases claiming a conspiracy by Democrats to steal the election, despite Republican state leaders, Trump’s own attorney general and other administration officials publicly stating there was no major election fraud. Powell appeared with Giuliani at a news conference and made multiple media appearances.
But after Powell threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing, the Trump legal team distanced itself from her, saying she was not working on their behalf. Still, she continues to be one of Trump’s most vociferous supporters.
She is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems after she alleged it helped rig the election for Biden by manufacturing machines that could flip votes from Trump to Biden.
The Denver-based company claims Powell has raided Defending the Republic’s coffers to pay for personal legal expenses, citing her own remarks from a radio interview.
- Terry Spencer