CHESTERFIELD, Mo.—Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, seeking the Republican nod in a crowded field to succeed U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, continues to use claims about election fraud in the 2020 presidential race to galvanize support with the primary election now just a little more than two months away.
Thursday night, his campaign screened "Rigged: The Zuckerberg Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump" in front of a crowd of roughly 200 supporters on the campus of Epic Empowerment, a youth service non-profit organization in Chesterfield.
The film, produced by Trump 2016 campaign adviser David Bossie, accuses Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook co-founder, of using hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to local election authorities in 2020 to in effect, ‘put his thumb on the scale’ to help Joe Biden win the presidency. The film suggests that the grants, which among other areas, funded pandemic-related costs of cleaning voting facilities, Personal Protective Equipment, hiring of additional staff and where allowed, expand the number of in-person early voting sites, were in fact, part of a coordinated "get out the vote" campaign to favor Biden.
In the St. Louis region, several election authorities received the grants, with the largest award being $2,048,474 to St. Louis County. A bill sitting on Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s desk could ban election officials from accepting this kind of support in the future.
Among those featured in the film is 2016 Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who pointed to how effectively the 2016 Trump campaign used Facebook to target voters. But Conway, in an upcoming memoir, reportedly says Trump did lose the race. Greitens told Spectrum News Thursday night that she’s wrong, pointing to historical bellwether counties where the Trump campaign succeeded. He acknowledged that the data by itself is not proof, but said it “pointed to massive election fraud.”
An Associated Press investigation of voter fraud allegations in key battleground states did not find evidence of the level of fraud suggested to swing the result of the presidential race in 2020. As late as last month, Missouri’s Republican Secretary of State Jay Aschcroft told Spectrum News there was no evidence that the state’s 2020 election, which saw Trump win by 15 points, had any amount of fraud that would have changed the outcome of the race.
Greitens claims there were “statistically significant” differences in the Missouri counties that received Zuckerberg grants compared to the ones which did not.
More than 40 Missouri election authorities accepted the grants in 2020. Biden won four of them—Jackson County, Boone County, St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis, areas Hillary Clinton also carried in 2016, while Trump won the state.
Many Republicans have openly speculated that Greitens, who resigned as Governor in 2018 amid criminal and ethical scandal and is fighting allegations of abuse made by his ex-wife, could put a reliably safe GOP Senate seat at risk if he wins the August primary. This week an independent Trafalgar Group poll showed Greitens with a slight lead in the race over U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler.