Let’s lay our cards on the table.
Jill Stein, leader of the Green Party, has a long history of boneheaded, opportunistic publicity stunts meant to further her brand at the expense of the causes she says she believes in. The 2016 campaign represented rock bottom in that way. Stein became increasingly apoplectic, drained of any substance and consumed by an anti-Hillary Clinton narrative that played directly into the hands of Donald Trump. She was also the only candidate to run her campaign almost exclusively through the use of “dank” memes posted to social media.
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) August 28, 2016
So it was a bit of a surprise when Stein abruptly announced that she would be devoting her energies to fighting the election results and filing to get ballot recounts in three key battleground states – a recount that only stood to benefit Hillary Clinton.
She launched a fundraiser asking for $2.5 million to crowdsource the recount efforts. And because America just elected a would-be tyrant and former reality tv star, desperate people began pouring money into it. How eager are people to overturn Trump’s election? At one point, the fundraiser was receiving a thousand dollars a minute. Over night it eclipsed its fundraising goal.
So she moved the goal. Now, instead of $2.5 million, Stein says she actually needs $4.5 million. She posted an update that told those who donated that the first goal would now only cover one state – Wisconsin – and millions more would be needed to tackle the two others. The goalposts had been moved.
Even more troubling, her campaign stealth edited the initial details of how much money would be required. The estimated “attorney fees” went from “a million” to the much higher “2-3 million.” They offered no explanation for why her lawyer’s retainer suddenly tripled.
Here are the filing fees and deadlines for each state:
Wisconsin: $1.1 million by Nov 25
Pennsylvania: $0.5 million by Nov 28
Michigan: $0.6 million by Nov 30
Those are filing fees alone. The costs associated with recounts are a function of state law. Attorney’s fees are likely to be another $2-3 million, then there are the costs of the statewide recount observers in all three states. The total cost is likely to be $6-7 million.
She also stated that she “cannot guarantee a recount will happen” but wants to “raise awareness” about election issues – which doesn’t explain why she suddenly feels she needs millions more. Awareness, it’s safe to say, has been raised. She has $3.5 million and thousands of donors to prove it.
So what is Stein up to? It’s hard to say. We know that she had a nose for publicity and nothing would give her more publicity than seizing on the news that several states had been identified as having suspicious voting patterns and using it to kickstart a recount run by her campaign. We also know that every single person who donates to Stein’s fundraiser has to submit their name, address and email. For a political party that struggles each year to gain traction, having a massive list of email accounts to begin using would certainly help their exposure.
The worst part in all of this is that if she fails to hold up her end of the bargain, she will have exploited thousands of deeply concerned people who gave money because they are scared of what is happening in their country, concerned with how the election played out, and willing to put their money where their mouths are about fixing America’s clearly broken democracy. In other words, they are good people. Jill Stein has a duty now to not let them down. Here’s hoping she lives up to it.
And if you are looking for something to do that doesn’t require you handing over your email and credit card to Jill Stein’s meme team, former White House staffer Dan Pfeiffer has a better way for you to spend your money and stick it to Trump.
The amount of Democratic energy and money being wasted on recounts instead of trying to win the Louisiana Senate Race is mind boggling
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) November 24, 2016
Louisiana’s senate race isn’t over. And Democrats have a real shot of winning. If you’re interested in making it easier for Democrats to keep Trump and his Republican congress in check, then helping win over Louisiana is a great way to start. You can donate here.
Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images