Founded in 2022 by disgraced billionaire Steve Wynn, Republican political consultant Karl Rove, and former Trump lawyer Bobby Burchfield, Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) provides financial aid and legal support for challenges to election laws.
Billionaire casino magnate Steve Wynn is the co-founder and national finance chair of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections. Despite his role in founding the group, Wynn is not listed on RITE’s “Our Team” page on its website.
In addition to Wynn’s donations, he served as the finance chair of the Republican National Committee “at the behest of” President Trump. Wynn was also the vice chair of Trump’s inaugural committee in 2016.
In 2018, Wynn stepped down from his casino empire, Wynn Resorts, following various sexual assault and harassment allegations.
In 2017, Wynn lobbied the Trump administration to deport Chinese businessman Guo Wengui to China, allegedly hand-delivering a letter on the topic to Trump from the Chinese government. The Chinese government considers Guo a fugitive, however, Guo denies the government’s charges against him and was in the U.S. seeking political asylum.
At the same time Wynn was lobbying the White House on behalf of China, his company Wynn Resorts was running two casinos in the Chinese gambling hub of Macau. According to the Department of Justice, Wynn’s work for Beijing came “out of a desire to protect his business interests in Macau.”
In May 2021, the Department of Justice ordered Wynn to register as a foreign lobbyist after he tried to gain a “diplomatic favor for China.” In May 2022, The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Wynn to force him to register after failing to do so for a year.
Longtime Republican operative Karl Rove is a co-founder and advisor for Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections. Through his consulting group Karl Rove + Company, Rove has worked for 75 candidates for federal and state office in 24 states in the U.S over the course of his career.
The “architect” of George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, Rove held various high-powered roles within the Bush administration. Rove served as a senior advisor and deputy chief of staff for George W. Bush, and also oversaw the offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs.
As Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Rove played a crucial role in the Bush White House’s policy-making process. This included convincing the president to oppose gay marriage to garner political support in the 2004 election and playing a role in the lead-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
During the Bush administration, Rove allegedly helped reveal the identity of covert CIA officer Valarie Plame. Plame’s unmasking resulted in the conviction of senior administration official Scooter Libby, whose sentence was later commuted by President Bush and fully pardoned by President Trump.
Karl Rove served as an advisor on Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaigns.
Rove allegedly spread false stories about political opponents to gain an edge in elections. This included insinuating that Hilary Clinton had brain damage and allegedly spreading rumors about a political opponent’s sexuality.
Karl Rove worked as senior advisor to President George W. Bush when the administration began a “crackdown on voter fraud.” In speeches, Rove frequently warned of election fraud despite the Department of Justice finding no evidence of tainted elections.
Even after what has been called the “emphatic failure” of Georgia’s 2020 primary elections that left poor and minority communities waiting in line for hours and stuck with faulty voting machines, Rove continued to dismiss concerns over voter suppression.
As a member of the White House Iraq Group, Karl Rove played a major role in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Rove publicly amped up concerns over “weapons of mass destruction,” the validity of which turned out to be “woefully wrong.” Rove himself went on to acknowledge that the war would not have happened without concerns over weapons of mass destruction.
Bobby Burchfield, a lawyer specializing in antitrust and election law, is the co-founder and chairman of the board of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections.
Aside from work on elections, Burchfield spent his career defending major corporations.
Burchfield has counseled Republican candidates in every presidential election since 1988. Burchfield served as George H. W. Bush’s general counsel in his 1992 re-election campaign.
In the 2000 presidential election, Burchfield represented George W. Bush during the recount in Florida and served in Bush’s Antitrust Advisory Commission for two years.
Under the Trump administration, Burchfield served as the ethics advisor to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust. Burchfield’s role was to mitigate conflicts of interest between the president and his businesses.
Burchfield played a leading role in undermining campaign finance laws.
In 2003, Burchfield argued on behalf of Sen. Mitch McConnell against the Federal Elections Commission in McConnell v FEC before the Supreme Court. The case sought to undermine the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), also known as McCain-Feingold.
Representing Senator Mitch McConnell, Burchfield fought to further undermine campaign finance regulations in the Supreme Court case McCutcheon v FEC. The ruling in McCutcheon struck down aggregate limits on campaign contributions in a given election cycle, opening the door for “deep-pocketed donors” to contribute even more to politicians.
In 2019, Burchfield represented the Republican National Committee against allegations of voter suppression. In the case, the RNC was accused of “suppressing minority votes” during the 2016 presidential election cycle.
Leading up to the 2020 election, Burchfield worked on behalf of the RNC to maintain voting restrictions in North Carolina. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, North Carolina made changes to increase the amount of mail-in ballots it would accept. Challengers to the pandemic accommodations claimed they would cause “irreparable harm to the Republican committees.”
Ahead of the 2020 election, the RNC authored a memo about how the Trump campaign could respond to a close 2020 election. The memo was requested due to concerns that “ballot security” measures discourage minority voting. As the RNC’s attorney, Burchfield fought to keep the memo – and the RNC’s “recount plan” – a secret.
Burchfield has also complained that “the left” has undermined confidence in the electoral process.
Derek Lyons is president and chief executive officer of Restoring Integrity and Trust to Elections. A lawyer and former White House staff secretary, Lyons has professional ties to politicians and government officials.
Currently, Lyons works as the general counsel and corporate secretary for the agricultural company AppHarvest Inc.
Derek Lyons held multiple roles within the Trump White House, eventually serving as one of Trump’s “closest aides.” As Trump’s counselor and staff secretary, Derek Lyons handled the documents President Trump saw and signed. An “influential but largely unknown role,” the White House staff secretary plays a major part in determining what material the president engages with.
Among Lyons’s work in the Trump administration, he helped craft, finalize, and execute restrictive immigration and border security measures.
Derek Lyons is “close” to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Former Trump administration Attorney General William Barr sits on Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections’ board of directors.
An ex-CIA official, Barr served as assistant attorney general and later attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration.
After serving as Attorney General, Barr made millions of dollars as general counsel for GTE Corporation and its successor, Verizon.
In 2019, Barr returned to politics as President Trump’s attorney general, shutting down cases involving the president and filling the Department of Justice with “yes-men.”
During George H.W. Bush’s administration, Barr encouraged pardons for officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. According to the independent prosecutor, these pardons “completed” a six-year-long cover-up of the controversial affair that began during the Reagan administration.
Under Barr’s leadership, the Justice Department conducted a “vast surveillance program” on Americans beginning in 1992 and failed to conduct proper due diligence on whether the surveillance was legal before starting the program. This marked the first known government effort to gather information on Americans in bulk, regardless of if they were suspected of committing a crime.
Barr publicly defended President Trump during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In addition to dismissing the investigation outright, Barr circulated a memo claiming to summarize the Mueller report on the Trump campaign’s potential ties with Russia during the election. Barr’s summary mischaracterized Mueller’s report as having exonerated Trump despite finding ten instances of possible obstruction by the president. In response to Barr’s memo, Mueller responded that Barr’s assessment “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the report.
Barr went on to attempt to keep the unredacted Mueller report from lawmakers.
Leading up to the 2020 election, Bill Barr made “misleading or unfounded claims” about voter fraud and foreign interference in the election. This included baseless speculation that postmen would be bribed into committing election fraud with the surge in pandemic-related vote-by-mail measures.
Weeks before the election, Barr suggested the idea of federal prosecutors investigating allegations of potential voter fraud. Following the results in November, Barr authorized federal investigators to pursue claims of voter fraud as Trump refused to concede.
Barr also defended Trump when he suggested people vote twice. Rather than reassure the American people of the integrity of our election systems and clarify that voting twice was both unnecessary and a felony in many cases, Barr claimed he didn’t know if voting twice was illegal.
As Attorney General, Barr gave special treatment to Trump allies and attempted to silence critics of the president.
Barr tried to block an investigation into a Turkish bank that was violating sanctions at the behest of Turkish President Erdogan. Trump and Erdogan maintained personal relationships through their son-in-laws, leading to what Erdogan’s son-in-law called “backdoor diplomacy.” This often led to Trump making international policy decisions that favored Erdogan while confounding U.S. national security officials.
During the protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, Barr backed violence against protestors and dismissed evidence of racism in policing. He went so far as to suggest sedition charges against protestors.
Barr personally ordered the violent removal of protestors in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. ahead of a photo opportunity for Trump outside of a nearby church.
Additionally, Barr previously declined to press federal civil rights charges against the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner.
As of September 2022, Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections is engaged in several lawsuits related to voting in battleground states throughout the United States.
RITE supports the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against “ballot curing” in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin allows election clerks to fill in missing information on absentee ballots to ensure as many valid votes as possible can be counted. Despite allowing the adjustments in 2016, a judge overturned that guidance in 2022, barring future ballot-curing efforts.
Immediately following the 2020 election, Trump filed a similar lawsuit attempting to bar ballot curing in a bid to overturn Biden’s victory in the battleground state.
RITE claimed victory in Arizona after invalidating a ballot initiative called the Free and Fair Elections Act that made over a dozen changes to how the state ran elections. These changes include blocking legislators from overturning the results of a presidential election, extending early voting, and guaranteeing ballot privacy.
RITE’s efforts fought policies prohibiting state legislators from overturning federal election results and attempting to make voting more accessible.
RITE filed a brief in Montana in support of voting laws that would eliminate same-day voter registration and increase voter ID requirements, adding restrictions to voting access.
RITE filed a brief in a North Carolina case facing the Supreme Court in 2022 in support of state lawmakers’ gerrymandered maps.
The case, Moore v Harper, involves the argument that state legislators have “virtually absolute authority over federal elections,” a rationale that was previously invoked in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
North Carolina has a history of producing racially gerrymandered maps that reduce the voting power of people of color throughout the state.
RITE filed a brief in a Florida case to limit ballot drop boxes and set limitations on organizations to help voters.
The measures RITE supported in the case were previously struck down by a court for being racially discriminatory.
In addition to its ties to elected officials, Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections maintains connections to additional Karl Rove and Leonard Leo-connected “dark money” groups.
RITE co-founder Karl Rove founded the political influence groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS in 2007. Created alongside Steven Law and Ed Gillespie, Crossroads GPS is credited with “fueling the growth of dark money” following the Citizens United Supreme Court case.
RITE co-founder and board chair Bobby Burchfield serves as chairman of Crossroads GPS.
Another Rove-linked “dark money” organization is One Nation. Due to a delay in Crossroads GPS being granted its tax-exempt status due to its heavy political spending, Steven Law and other Rove associates took over an organization called Alliance for America’s Future, formerly a Cheney-linked 501(c)(4), in 2015, and renamed it One Nation.
In 2020, One Nation sent nearly $80 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, though the history between the two organizations dates back further. One Nation and the Senate Leadership Fund also share an office location in Virginia.
RITE Co-Founder and Board Chair Bobby Burchfield is also a board member of One Nation.
RITE President and CEO Derek Lyons previously worked for the Judicial Education Project, now known as the 85 Fund. The Honest Elections Project operates as a “fictitious” entity within the 85 Fund.
Leading up to and following the 2020 election, the Honest Elections Project engaged in numerous voter suppression and anti-democratic efforts. The group launched a $250,0000 ad campaign to oppose mail-in voting ahead of the election and pushed for voter roll purges in Colorado, Florida, and Michigan based on misleading claims about “bloated voter rolls.”
RITE worked with the Honest Elections Project and Heritage Action in a lawsuit against Arizona election laws.