A review of Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filings by Media Matters shows four Fox Corporation executives have made maximum contributions to a U.S. Senate candidate who not only tried to help then-President Donald Trump overturn election results in 2020, but has continued to spread lies about supposed “voter fraud” affecting the result.
The four separate maximum individual donations of $2,900 were made in August and September of 2021 to Republican candidate Adam Laxalt, a former state attorney general in Nevada, who now hopes to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. Laxalt is the GOP’s leading fundraiser and presumed frontrunner in the swing state race, which could decide whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate next year. He previously served as a Nevada co-chair for Trump’s 2020 campaign, and was one of the top public faces of the campaign’s attempts to overturn the election result through failed and baseless allegations of voter fraud. Perhaps most infamously, Laxalt held a press conference with Nevada resident Donald Hartle, who claimed that someone had voted illegally under the name of his deceased wife — Hartle later pleaded guilty to having been the person who voted illegally.
The donors themselves – Viet Dinh, Nicholas Trutanich, Jeffrey Taylor, and Edward Hartman – represent varying levels of influence at Fox, with three holding particularly sensitive positions in the company.
- Viet Dinh, Fox Corporation chief legal officer and a close friend and ally to CEO Lachlan Murdoch, has often been described in the press as the power “behind the throne” at Fox, though he has publicly denied reports that he makes key decisions on Murdoch’s behalf. Dinh also previously served in the U.S. Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration, and became the chief architect of the Patriot Act, which expanded the government’s surveillance powers following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now, he is giving financial support to a candidate who played a prominent role in the attempt to discredit and overthrow democracy in the United States.
- Nicholas Trutanich, who serves as an executive vice president at Fox and is the firm’s chief ethics and compliance officer, was previously Laxalt’s chief of staff in the state attorney general’s office and later appointed as U.S. attorney for Nevada by then-President Trump.
- Jeffrey Taylor, Fox Corporation’s general counsel, previously served as an interim U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia during the George W. Bush administration. Fox currently faces lawsuits from voting machine companies over the company’s reckless promotion of the Trump campaign’s conspiracy theories after the election, but this has apparently not stopped the company’s general counsel from donating to a Big Lie candidate.
- Edward Hartmann, an executive at Fox Sports.
Perhaps it is no surprise that Fox’s corporate executives are funneling big money campaign contributions to a candidate who helped Trump spread the Big Lie in 2020 that the presidential election was rigged against him. After all, Fox News has invested countless hours of airtime spreading this unfounded conspiracy theory. And just this week it was reported that Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson has personally donated to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a far-right QAnon conspiracy theorist who has also pushed false claims about the 2020 election. The donations also fit into a wider pattern at Fox News, which has hired Republican operatives and former Trump administration staffers into editorial positions at the network, and has also frequently hosted members of Congress who joined the insurrectionists on January 6 and voted against the certification of the 2020 election. (The network also helped to elevate yet another Big Lie personality, former pro football player Herschel Walker, who is now running for the U.S. Senate from Georgia.)
Fox News is not a news network at all, but rather a Republican political operation with a pervasive corporate culture of opposing American democracy. And that opposition continues to be relevant this year, as Trump seeks to elect candidates touting the Big Lie — putting them in place to potentially steal the 2024 election — while Fox programming has worked to rewrite the history of January 6, 2021, and the attempt to overturn the presidential election result.
For his part, Laxalt was profiled by NBC News on February 3, detailing the manner in which he continues to mislead Republican audiences in Nevada about purported “major problems” with elections in the state’s Democratic strongholds. But, at the same time, he stresses that it is vital for Republican voters to turn out, especially for elections in the rural counties outside Nevada’s major population centers, which he described as being “legitimate.”
Laxalt told NBC News that he stands by his lies that the 2020 election was “rigged,” falsely claiming, “Everyone knows there was fraud, but not a single Nevadan can say how much.” He has also indicated that his campaign will launch more bogus lawsuits alleging voter fraud during the 2022 midterm elections.