A conservative group told donors it’s secretly helping Republican state legislatures draft bills to restrict voting, including in Georgia and Texas, leaked video shows

georgia voting
Demonstrators stand outside of the Georgia Capitol building on March 3, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • GOP-led legislatures are passing voting and election reform laws in states across the country.
  • In a leaked video, a conservative group told donors it’s quietly helping lawmakers draft the bills.
  • Many of the bills have been fueled by unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
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A conservative group told its top donors that it has been quietly working to help state legislatures pass voting laws that will “right the wrongs of November,” according to a leaked video.

Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America, said during a private meeting in Arizona last month that the group has even drafted some of the legislation that’s been signed into law.

“We’re working with these state legislatures to make sure they have all of the information they need to draft the bills. In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said in the video, which was obtained by the watchdog group Documented and published by Mother Jones on Thursday.

Read more: Corporate America’s response to restrictive voting laws in Georgia and Texas isn’t benevolence. It’s about economics and profit, experts say.

Republican-controlled legislatures nationwide are seeking to pass voting rights reform, largely fueled by the false and unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter and election fraud in the 2020 election. GOP lawmakers say the bills are about election integrity and restoring trust, while Democrats say they are restrictive and give credence to baseless claims of fraud.

Iowa passed a law in March that cut the state’s early voting period and closed the polls earlier on election day, after Iowans turned out in record numbers in the fall. Georgia passed a high-profile and controversial law overhauling its elections that critics blasted as oppressive.

Texas is also considering new election-related measures that could restrict voting.

“Iowa was the first state that we got to work in, and we did it quickly, and we did it quietly. Honestly, nobody noticed,” Anderson told the group’s donors.

“At the end of the day, the bill that Gov. Kemp signed, and the Georgia legislature marshaled through, had eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,” she said. Another bill being considered in Texas had “19 provisions” that were written by Heritage Action, Anderson said.

The Associated Press reported it was known that Heritage Action, which is a sister organization of the influential conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, was working with lawmakers, but that “it is rare to hear a leader detail how a group masks involvement to give the bills the appearance of broad political support.”

Anderson told AP in a statement that the group is “proud of our work to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

“That work begins at the state level through our grassroots and continues in state legislatures throughout the country,” she said.

Anderson, who also worked in the Trump administration, has pushed unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the past. On Fox News in December, in reference to Georgians newly registering for the runoff election, she said “this is exactly the type of fraud that we have been raising the red flag for months now,” without citing any evidence of fraud. She added “we know that the fraud is real.”

The group, along with former president Donald Trump’s campaign and the US Justice Department, have been unable to find evidence of widespread fraud. But Anderson said the group is motivated by what it believes went wrong in the last election.

“We are going to take the fierce fire that is in every single one of our bellies to right the wrongs of November,” she said in the new video.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin dies at age 60 after contracting COVID-19

Ben Chafin
Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin.

  • Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin died on Friday from complications related to COVID-19, according his state legislative office.
  • Chafin, a Republican who represented a rural district in Southwest Virginia, was 60 years old.
  • “Southwest Virginia has lost a strong advocate — and we have all lost a good man,” said Gov. Ralph Northam in a written statement.
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Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin died on Friday from complications related to COVID-19, according his state legislative office.

Chafin, a Republican who represented a rural district in Southwest Virginia, was 60 years old.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus, who confirmed Chafin’s death, immediately issued words of praise for the senator, who was elected to the state’s House of Delegates in 2013 before joining the Senate in 2014.

Chafin, an attorney, had been hospitalized with the coronavirus for roughly two weeks before his death. While several Virginia state legislators have contracted the highly infectious disease, he is the first Virginia lawmaker to pass away from complications related to the coronavirus, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Southwest Virginia has lost a strong advocate – and we have all lost a good man,” Northam expressed in a written statement. “I knew Ben as a lawmaker, an attorney, a banker, and a farmer raising beef cattle in Moccasin Valley, working the land just as generations of his family had done before him. 

Chafin’s Republican and Democratic colleagues saluted his life and service to the commonwealth.

“Ben was deeply and wholeheartedly committed to the commonwealth, and especially to the people of Southwest Virginia,” said state Senate GOP leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. in a statement. “He put the interests of those he was entrusted to serve first, cherishing the people of the region he proudly called ‘home.'”

“We grieve the loss of our colleague and friend, Senator Ben Chafin,” said the Democratic Senate caucus in a statement. “He was a passionate leader who represented his constituents of the 38th District in Southwest Virginia with such compassion, strength, and thoughtfulness.”

Chafin is survived by his wife, Lora and their three children, along with his sister and grandchildren.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been roughly 355,000 confirmed infections and over 5,000 deaths in Virginia, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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