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'ItalyGate' Scam Goes Deeper Than One Mere GOP Squatter

With the willing assistance of Facebook and the Judicial Crisis Network, a scam was born to hold people hostage to the Big Lie.
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'ItalyGate' is just one of the components of The Big Lie, but it's one that made its way to Trump via Mark Meadows via a woman named Maria Zack, and all of it flows right back to Florida, the state Donald Trump has poisoned with lies and bile.

A Washington Post article on Saturday detailed the lie, how it was hatched, and how it made its way up to Donald Trump. But that's just the beginning of the story.

With the assistance of Facebook and the Judicial Crisis Network, a scam was born. A scam funded by the same people who bought Supreme Court justices and who have been working on destroying democracy for years and years.

"ItalyGate," has come to be known as "the crown jewel of conspiracy theories," as TPM describes it.

An Italian defense contractor teamed up with the U.S. Embassy in Rome to use satellite transmissions to switch millions of Trump votes to Biden votes, thus stealing the election.

What makes this conspiracy theory especially handy among the many whackadoodle Big Lie claims is that it serves to explain why, as the former president has argued, millions of vote batches came in in the middle of the night as overwhelmingly for Biden: they were the product of a “data switch” by Italian operatives with access to advanced satellite technology.

The part that makes it "wilder" is that the squatter known as Michele Roosevelt Edwards also known as Michele Ballarin owns two companies that promoted the theory, as the Washington Post reports.

Rather than summarizing the article, watch the highlights of Rachel Maddow's A-block on Monday night in the YouTube video below:

Rachel rightly dismisses Maria Zack and Republican squatter Michele Roosevelt Edwards as crackpots promoting crackpot theories. But closer examination suggests that while they are indeed crackpots, Zack is serving a specific purpose within the larger right-wing universe that was planned and funded by right-wing donors, and has been advanced by the same gang of miscreants who use astroturf and groundswell messaging to specifically undermine democracy and hold citizens hostage to their nonsense.

Maria Zack's website is currently known as "Italy-Did-It.com". Zack's Facebook page is Nations In Action, which is described as a 501(c)(4) organization "devoted to advocacy and action geared toward public policy, transparency and good government for all nations."

The Facebook page has nearly 25,000 followers and is used for two purposes: To amplify Zack's lies and push back on the press exposing her. There you will find all of her interviews online with various people representing the different facets of the Republican party -- libertarians, religious zealots, online streamers, and more.

Nations In Action is indeed a 501(c)(4) organization connected to a non-profit organization called Nations in Action Globally Lifting Up Fund, Inc. The IRS approved its nonprofit status on July 9, 2019, with an effective date of December 13, 2017. The mailing address for Nations In Action Globally Lifting Up Fund, Inc. is a UPS store in Sarasota, Florida.

Their directors, according to the most recent corporate filing, are Debbie Ashburn, Hans Von Spakovsky, Marjorie Meyers and Maria Zack.

Yes, that name you see there in the middle is THE Hans Von Spakovsky, King of Voter Suppression and Disenfranchisement, pal to Ginni Thomas, architect of many of the voter suppression efforts underway around the nation. According to TPM, Von Spakovsky says he resigned from the Board of Directors on January 8th, two days after the insurrection.

“I resigned from the board many months ago and have had nothing to with the organization or its allegations,” he wrote to the TPM reporter who found his name on a Florida corporate filing from May, 2021. Of course, by January 8th, the fire was raging. No further need for him to sit on that board. They served their primary purpose.

On January 5, 2021, Marjorie Meyers, who at the time was the spokeswoman for the organization but had previously served as an officer, sent out a general press release from Nations in Action amplifying the lie. One day before the insurrection, this organization lit the flame that ignited the tinderbox.

By January 6th, Trump supporters were armed with flagpoles, bear spray and the righteous belief that Italy had stolen the election for Biden, which Trump himself reinforced in his speech at the Ellipse. From the transcript:

But this year, using the pretext of the China virus and the scam of mail-in ballots, Democrats attempted the most brazen and outrageous election theft and there's never been anything like this. So pure theft in American history. Everybody knows it.

That election, our election was over at 10 o'clock in the evening. We're leading Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, by hundreds of thousands of votes.

And then late in the evening, or early in the morning, boom, these explosions of bull****.

And all of a sudden. All of a sudden it started to happen

This is the foundation of the ItalyGate lie, which had already gone viral across all of right-wing social media and online forums, just as they'd intended.

But where did they get the money to do all of this, even though a website, a Facebook page, and Zoom calls are a pretty low-cost points of entry? Between December 31, 2018, and June 30, 2019, the Judicial Crisis Network donated $25,000 to the nonprofit, money which presumably made its way to the c4 arm. Since the pandemic has delayed the 2019 and 2020 990 filings, there's no way to know if more money went from JCN to Zack's organization before Von Spakovsky bailed out, but even 25K is enough to pay a ratfcker to ratfck.

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The Judicial Crisis Network's president is Carrie Severino, a former clerk of Justice Clarence Thomas. The major source of funding for their organization was the Wellspring Committee, which was in turn funded by the Koch Network and likely still is. JCN is largely responsible for the installation of Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, while making it politically feasible for Republicans to block Merrick Garland by mounting a multi-million dollar public relations campaign.

There was no grassroots uprising on January 6th. It was plotted and paid for by billionaires intending to destabilize the country in a cynical effort to poison the well for President Joe Biden. Perhaps if Trump had won re-election this group would have spent their time and money agitating abroad, or making nice with Vladimir Putin or Somali pirates, something Michele Ballarin/Roosevelt Edwards has some experience with. But he didn't win, and so they used their Billionaire Bucks to destabilize this country and fuel an insurrection with the assistance of Facebook, who has still not removed the pages with the lies Maria Zack and her associates have spread.

This is part of our continuing coverage of the 2020 elections.

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