On Jan. 2, 2021, more than 300 state lawmakers from Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin attended a virtual briefing hosted by a group called Got Freedom to discuss allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 presidential election. Presenters referred to more than 1,400 pages of material about alleged problems and shared comments from Trump, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and Peter Navarro.
Got Freedom is a little-known 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization based in Amherst, Virginia. Director Phil Klein, a former attorney general of Kansas and the director of the Thomas More Society’s Amistad Project, leads the group. As attorney general, he was known for his aggressive and abusive legal harassment of Planned Parenthood and other groups that support abortion rights. As a result, the Kansas Supreme Court suspended Klein’s legal license in 2013.
Got Freedom appears to be run by the Thomas More Society, a right-wing public interest law firm that engages in litigation on “culture war” issues. Its board members and leadership team are comprised of More Society attorneys and it lists its “partners” as the Thomas More Society and The Amistad Journey. A month before the 2020 presidential election, Klein joined a webinar to discuss litigation on voter fraud with two other lawyers from the Thomas More Society.
The Big Lie
- Klein defended his promotion of election fraud conspiracy theories several days before certification of the 2020 Electoral College results, saying, “The state legislatures have the constitutional authority and they have not been allowed to meet as a body to review the election and exercise that authority. Up until Inauguration Day, they can meet and decertify electors.”
- Several days after the briefing, more than 100 state lawmakers sent a letter to then Vice President Pence asking him to delay congressional certification of the Electoral College results for at least 10 days. Klein explained that the lawmakers were not attempting to overturn the election results but were “simply requesting that they be allowed to perform the role required of them by the Constitution—an opportunity that in some cases has been actively denied by their own governors.”
- A major topic of discussion at the briefing was private funding provided by Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg through the Center for Tech and Civic Life to assist with election infrastructure. Got Freedom’s briefing described this as a “private intervention” that “sought to undermine transparency, fought efforts to audit the results, threatened legislators with investigation and prosecution for questioning the reported results.” However, multiple courts subsequently upheld the legality of the grants.