Jill Stein’s mysterious influx of recount cash might not be used for a recount. Democrats and progressives hope that a recount of votes cast in swing states has a chance of ensuring that Donald Trump will lose the election in the Electoral College.  Failed Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has raised more than $5.5 million for an effort to recount votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It is in these swing states that Donald Trump stemmed the tide of what Democrats thought would be an easy victory for Hillary Clinton.

Stein has raised more money in less than a week than she obtained throughout the entirety of her campaign, raising questions about the origin of those funds. However, she is not looking into discrepancies in close-call states where Clinton won, such as Nevada, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Minnesota. Neither the Trump or Clinton campaigns have commented on the recount effort. In Wisconsin, Trump won 1,409,467 votes (47.9%) to Clinton’s 1,382,210 votes (46.9%). Gary Johnson received 106,442 (3.6), while Stein received 30,980 (1.1%). The difference between the two top vote-getters is 27,257.

$1 million for Wisconsin recount

Wisconsin has accepted Stein's petition for a statewide recount of votes for President. "The Commission is preparing to move forward with a statewide recount of votes for President of the United States, as requested by these candidates," Wisconsin Election Commission's Administrator Michael Haas said in a statement. The state's election commission is awaiting a calculation of the estimated cost for the recount from county clerks throughout Wisconsin. It may surpass $1 million. The Stein campaign wants a hand recount of the ballots, which will require a court order.

While the deadline for the recount is December 13, the hand recount will probably extend beyond that point. This could mean that the state electors would have to report their findings by January 6 and submit them to Congress. Congress has wide latitude how it counts the electoral votes. Deadlines for applying for a recount in Michigan and Pennsylvania are next week.

No recount? No problem

The amount of money Stein has asked from donors continues to increase. While the initial amount requested was $2.5 million. The goal has since been increased to $7 million even while she explains that attorney and filing fees are to blame. Matthew Wisner of Fox News reported that there is speculation that billionaire investor George Soros may be contributing to the effort. Stein has admitted that she cannot guarantee that recounts will actually happen. And any money not spent on the recount can be used by the Green Party for other purposes. She wrote: “We cannot guarantee a recount will happen in any of these states we are targeting. We can only pledge we will demand recounts in those states. If we raise more than what’s needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform.”

Stein has also said that additional funds would be used to fund legal challenges. George Martin, who is a member of the coordinating council of the Green Party of Wisconsin, promised that the surplus will be used fund the party’s “campaign schools” that groom local candidates public service. He told CBS, “As a national party, our commitment is to build at the local level,” Martin said. “That’s where these dollars and excess dollars will go.”

Is this a scam?

On the liberal Opening Arguments Twitter page, there are numerous tweets claiming that Jill Stein is a fraud. Potential donors were urged to forego giving any money to Stein, whose recall effort they called a “scam.” Opening Arguments features podcasts by Thomas Smith and Andrew Torrez who debunk legal myths. They call themselves liberals who do not want Trump in the White House. Torrez is a lawyer. Opening Arguments tweeted on November 23, “Not complex at all. THIS IS A SCAM. Stein has NO standing to bring suit under MI law and is lying to you.” Later, on the same day, Opening Arguments explained Michigan law that is relevant to a recount in that state: “MCL 168.862. Petitioning candidate must be ‘aggrieved.’ I've only cited the relevant law like 800 times in the past hour, you know.”

As to whether the effort would be a challenge, Stein has said that neither she nor her party have any “smoking guns” -- evidence of fraud. But a finding of fraud is not necessary for the recount to advance. The drive for the recount was sparked by a report in New York Magazine that Professor J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan called on the Clinton campaign to demand a recount. Halderman and his associates reportedly asserted that they found evidence to show that the election results in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were hacked or manipulated. Since the reports emerged, however, Halderman said that the “most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong.” He also said that the election was “probably not” hacked, but added that the only way to be certain is a recount.

Halderman said, "the only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence, and that nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts." While some experts are calling for paper ballots to be recounted, NPR’s Camila Domonoske has said that “there’s no evidence that the electronic machines were hacked or the election was compromised.” Also, Michigan uses paper ballots exclusively.

Democrats are leery of the effort. Stein has clearly stated that her party’s effort is “not intended to help Hillary Clinton,” while adding that “recounts are part of an election integrity movement to attempt to shine a light on just how untrustworthy the U.S. election system is.” Stein at times praised Trump and denounced Clinton.

Democratic political operative Dan Pfeiffer posted a tweet that questioned Stein's motivations for going after just a few thousand of millions of votes cast. He wrote, “I really wish Jill Stein had not waited until after the election to be so concerned about a few thousand votes tipping the election to Trump.”

Additionally, political demographer Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight posted on Twitter, “Not saying this Jill Stein thing is a scam, but if it were a scam, it would probably look a lot like this.” Moreover, on November 23, Carl Bialik on FiveThirtyEight wrote that the concerns raised by computer scientist Halderman and associates “doesn’t check out.”

 

The Clinton Connection

Stacy Washington of Fox News’ “Stacy on the Right” mentioned today that author Mary Chastain believes that what both Bill and Hillary Clinton crave above all else is attention. Since Donald Trump’s remark that he did not think he would pursue prosecution against his former rival, the focus of attention has shifted away from her. Washington said that lends credence to the belief that Stein is acting as an agent of the Clintons to contest the election results while remaining in the background. “This connects to Jill Stein in that I’ve seen a lot of discussion online about people really suspecting what you just said, that this is really a ploy by the Clintons to get the recount done without having their name attached to it,” said Washington.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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