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Vance talks voter fraud, conspiracy

J.D. Vance, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, said there was massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election, including in Ohio, and a “big-tech” conspiracy engineered by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that cost Donald Trump the victory.

“There were certainly people voting illegally on a large-scale basis,” Vance, an author and venture capitalist, said during a Friday interview.

Asked about massive fraud in Ohio, where Trump won by 8 percent, Vance said: “I think it’s probably true that Trump won by a larger margin in Ohio, but I think as things go, we had as (U.S. Rep.) Jim Jordan said, our elections were pretty gold standard. I don’t think things were perfect in Ohio, but I think it was better here than in 90 percent of the states.”

Ex-Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, another Republican Senate candidate, has previously called for an audit of the vote in every state and said that Trump “probably actually won by even larger margins” in Ohio “were it not for the Democratic cheating.”

There is no evidence of massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election that Democrat Joe Biden won by 7 million votes. Trump, a Republican, has lost more than 60 court challenges to the results, but still falsely says he won. Supporting Trump’s false claims of massive fraud has become a litmus test for those seeking the former president’s backing.

Vance said Zuckerberg spent $420 million “buying up local boards of elections in battleground states of mostly Democratic areas” to “tilt” the vote in Biden’s favor.

The Center for Tech and Civic Life, of which Zuckerberg donated $420 million, gave $784,567.21 to the Mahoning County Board of Elections to help purchase personal protection equipment for poll workers and paid for the training of pollworkers.

Mahoning has been a Democratic stronghold for decades, but Trump won the county, only the third Republican to do so in 84 years.

“We have a fake country right now,” Vance said. “If a billionaire (Zuckerberg) can go and buy up votes in our biggest geographies and tilt an election, transform who can be president, it’s really, really dangerous stuff.”

Vance, who wrote the best-selling book “Hillbilly Elegy,” was a vocal critic of Trump during the 2016 election, calling him “reprehensible,” “an idiot” and said that he didn’t vote for him that year.

Vance said his criticism was the result of voting for Republicans for president in 2004, 2008 and 2012 and being disappointed.

“I assumed that everybody who ran was basically a scumbag so I had a certain mistrust that any politician would deliver on his promises, and Trump actually did a good job,” he said. “So one of the important things is when the facts change, you change your mind. The facts to me were he actually honored his promises.”

That included, Vance said, getting tough with China and securing the border with Mexico.

Mandel has targeted Vance for his past criticisms of Trump, saying his opponent is not a true Republican.

Asked to respond, Vance said, “I won’t take the bait.”

USA Freedom Fund, a pro-Mandel super political action committee, has already spent money attacking Vance and Jane Timken, another Republican candidate for the seat and the former chairwoman of the state GOP . The super PAC will start airing commercials, presumably targeting Vance and Timken, starting today.

CAMPAIGN MONEY

Peter Thiel, PayPal cofounder and Vance’s former boss, wrote a $10 million check March 12 to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC backing Vance.

The super PAC can’t coordinate with Vance’s campaign under federal laws.

Vance said that hasn’t happened.

“We talked a lot before I decided to run, but not about financials; just about what does he think, what’s his advice,” Vance said. “I knew I’d be able to count on him for support.”

Vance said the $10 million didn’t have an impact on his decision to run, but “it’s helpful to have an organization that when we hit the campaign it will get the message out.”

Vance said he anticipates needing at least $4 million raised by his Senate campaign fund to be competitive in the crowded Republican field vying for the party’s nomination in the May 2022 primary.

Two lesser known candidates — Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons — have already far exceeded $4 million.

Gibbons has given $5.67 million of his personal wealth to his campaign. Moreno gave $3 million in the third quarter and raised about $3 million from donors.

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