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Judicial Watch


Judicial Watch was founded in 1994 by Larry Klayman, an anti-government “extremist,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The organization initially focused on challenging the Clinton administration, and 25 years later, The New York Times credited Judicial Watch with undermining Hillary Clinton’s credibility during her 2016 presidential run. 

Now led by Tom Fitton, the organization runs an Election Integrity Project that has sent menacing letters to election officials threatening legal action if they fail to follow the organization’s guidance about maintaining accurate voting rolls. The Brennan Center for Justice says such maneuvers aim to sustain the false narrative that voter fraud is a significant issue in the U.S. Reuters has reported on how Judicial Watch and others managed to manipulate public opinion to make the idea mainstream

Judicial Watch is an “associate” member of the State Policy Network (SPN), which serves as an umbrella for right-wing think tanks located in all 50 states. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported that SPN Director Tracie Sharp compared SPN to IKEA because members can take the “raw materials” the network provides to “assemble the products…[and] customize it for what works best for you.” 

The 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) listed Judicial Watch as a sponsor, along with the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) and the Heritage Foundation. These three organizations helped push unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, making flimsy charges lacking evidence. In October 2020, The Guardian reported that all three nonprofits share a small circle of wealthy, conservative donors and that their staff and consultants move back and forth among the groups. 

The Big Lie

  • Just days after the 2020 election, Judicial Watch released a statement claiming that “Joe Biden is not ‘president elect.’” The statement also falsely asserted that: “It is not normal for multiple states to be counting presidential votes for days after Election Day” (when, in fact, it’s absolutely “normal” and expected) and “changing results after Election Day raises significant legal and constitutional concerns” (implying that only in-person votes should be counted even though mail-in voting is legal and widely practiced in most states). 
  • On October 20, 2020, Judicial Watch released a “study” comparing census data and voter rolls, and warning that “dirty” lists of voters in 29 states would delegitimize the results of the presidential election.