Other Group

Republicans for Voting Rights

Website:

accountability.gop/rvr/

Type:

Voting Activism

Executive Director:

Sarah Longwell

Republicans for Voting Rights (RVR) advocates for loosened voting requirements and opposes election integrity legislation. While the organization is nominally right-of-center, claiming to represent Republican Party voters, it explicitly targets Republican lawmakers and policy advocates who support measures aimed at preventing voter fraud and election manipulation.

RVR also calls on both Republicans and “former Republican[s]” to oppose Republican-led voting integrity initiatives. The organization’s website features testimonials from Republicans and right-of-center voters, attacking former President Donald Trump and claiming that election security measures are designed to benefit the Republican Party. RVR is managed by the Republican Accountability Project (RAP), an initiative of Defending Democracy Together (DDT), an advocacy group of former conservatives and Republicans supporting left-of-center initiatives. [1]

Background

Republicans for Voting Rights and its affiliated organizations rely on legacy Republican figures, as well as current and recent Republican lawmakers who oppose former President Trump, to craft a narrative that the Republican Party has supposedly alienated its voter base by attempting to implement election integrity measures. The group’s website features former President Ronald Reagan, and former Reagan administration official Linda Chavez is a member of the group’s advisory board. [2]

Republican Accountability Project, which manages RVR, ran an advertisement featuring a disenchanted Republican identifying himself as a “Cheney conservative,” a reference to anti-Trump Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. [3] During the 2020 election, the Defending Democracy Together project Republican Voters Against Trump ran advertisements portraying Democratic candidate Joe Biden with deceased Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), claiming that both represented “country over party.” The group also partnered with the Lincoln Project on an initiative to turn Republican voters against then-President Trump’s reelection. [4]

Leadership

Sarah Longwell is the executive director of Republicans for Voting Rights, as well as a co-founder of Defending Democracy Together and the executive director of the Republican Accountability Project. Longwell created DDT together with former Republican Party operative and political commentator William Kristol, who is also the chairman of RVR and RAP. Longwell is also a spokesperson for Republicans for the Rule of Law, another nominally right-of-center group within the DDT network that pressured Republicans to impeach President Trump and remove him from office throughout his presidency. [5]

Amanda Carpenter is a director at RVR. She is a political commentator for CNN. Carpenter also writes for The Bulwark, an anti-Trump, nominally right-of-center online publication that was previously published by the charitable arm of Defending Democracy Together, Defending Democracy Together Institute. [6] Carpenter’s other work includes a book attacking former President Trump. [7]

Michael Steele is a member of the RVR advisory board. He is a former lieutenant governor of Maryland and was previously the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Together with Kristol, Steele was a key participant in the Transition Integrity Project, which was created in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election in order to develop scenarios in which the election results would be disputed. [8]

Funding

Defending Democracy Together, the parent organization of Republicans for Voting Rights, spent millions opposing President Donald Trump during the 2020 election cycle. In October 2020, the campaign finance investigative site OpenSecrets called it the “top ‘dark money’ spender” of the election. The group received $1.6 million from Democracy Fund Voice, a lobbying organization funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of e-commerce platform eBay who has given hundreds of millions of dollars to Democratic candidates and left-wing groups such as the Open Society Foundations and the Tides Foundation. DDT also received $75,000 from the Hopewell Fund, one of the many grantmaking organizations and activist groups managed by the left-of-center philanthropic giant Arabella Advisors. [9]

References

  1. Republicans for Voting Rights. Accessed March 27, 2022. https://accountability.gop/rvr/ ^
  2.  Republicans for Voting Rights. Accessed March 27, 2022. https://accountability.gop/rvr/ ^
  3. “Campaigns.” Republican Accountability Project. Accessed March 27, 2022. https://accountability.gop/campaigns/ ^
  4. Karl Evers-Hillstrom. “Never-Trump group is 2020’s top ‘dark money’ spender so far.” OpenSecrets. October 7, 2020. Accessed March 27, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2020/10/never-trump-groups-darkmoney-1020/ ^
  5. Republicans for Voting Rights. Accessed March 27, 2022. https://accountability.gop/rvr/ ^
  6. DeRensis, Hunter. “Does the Bulwark Mean the Neocons Are Staging a Comeback?” The National Interest. The Center for the National Interest, January 9, 2019. https://nationalinterest.org/feature/does-bulwark-mean-neocons-are-staging-comeback-41007. ^
  7. Republicans for Voting Rights. Accessed March 27, 2022. https://accountability.gop/rvr/ ^
  8. Republicans for Voting Rights. Accessed March 27, 2022. https://accountability.gop/rvr/ ^
  9. Karl Evers-Hillstrom. “Never-Trump group is 2020’s top ‘dark money’ spender so far.” OpenSecrets. October 7, 2020. Accessed March 27, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2020/10/never-trump-groups-darkmoney-1020/ ^
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