Stephen Lee
Andrea Austria/Media Matters

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Indicted chaplain in Trump’s Georgia case is using fringe right-wing media to fundraise for his legal fees

While crowdfunding for his defense on a Christian nationalist prayer program, chaplain Stephen Lee claimed that the charges are part of a “spiritual battle” and that the rights of Christians “are being eroded”

Since he was indicted for pressuring Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman to falsely admit to voter fraud in 2020, chaplain Stephen Lee has been promoting his legal defense fundraiser in a fringe right-wing media tour.

Lee, one of former President Donald Trump's co-defendants, has tapped into a network of fringe programs led by other election deniers, including a Christian nationalist prayer call that took place earlier in March. While promoting his defense fund, Lee has framed the charges against him as a violation of his religious freedom and declared that the country is engaged in a “spiritual battle” and that “we’ve got the full armor of God.”

Lee’s GiveSendGo has raised over $6,000 to date, with several donors referencing Lee’s fringe right-wing media appearances in their messages of support.

  • Chaplain Stephen Lee faces charges in Georgia for harassing election worker Ruby Freeman

  • After the 2020 election, Lee played a central role in a failed effort to pressure Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman to admit she committed fraud. Lee, an Illinois-based chaplain, has been charged with five felonies and is accused of conspiring with the hip-hop publicist Trevian Kutti and former Trump campaign staffer Harrison Floyd to pressure Freeman to falsely confess that she helped rig the 2020 election for then-candidate Joe Biden. [The Washington Post, 11/23/24; Reuters, 9/9/22]

  • Lee is fundraising for his legal defense on the right-wing Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, claiming he has been charged “for pastorally knocking on doors.” Lee’s fundraiser page claims that “YOUR freedoms are at risk in this case too!” Several donors to Lee’s GiveSendGo have said they heard of Lee’s fundraiser through his fringe right-wing media appearances. [GiveSendGo, accessed 3/18/24, 3/18/24, 3/18/24, 3/19/24]

  • Lee has promoted his legal fundraiser on a Christian nationalist prayer program and other fringe right-wing shows

  • In a prayer call with a right-wing “apostle,” Lee defended his conduct, said he is the victim of “lawfare,” promoted his fundraiser, and suggested that his religious liberty has been violated. Lee did an interview with New Apostolic Reformation “apostle” Jim Garlow, co-founder and host of the World Prayer Network, which Right Wing Watch has described as “an outgrowth of a prayer movement that began in the wake of the 2020 presidential election … to pray for God to intervene and overturn former President Donald Trump’s loss.” The program has also regularly hosted Christian nationalist and right-wing figures. During the March call, Lee claimed he had been indicted for “knocking on doors and making some phone calls,” and suggested the rights of pastors and Christians are at risk, declaring that “all pastors, all Christians everywhere, our rights are being eroded.” Lee said we’re in a “spiritual battle,” adding, “We've got the full armor of God.” After Lee and Garlow promoted his legal fundraiser to the audience, several GiveSendGo donors indicated that they knew of the fundraiser because of the call. [World Prayer Network, 3/10/24, accessed 3/20/24; Right Wing Watch, 5/25/23; Rolling Stone, 11/15/2311/21/23; GiveSendGo, accessed 3/18/24]

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    Citation From the March 10, 2024, World Prayer Network Call

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  • On Lindell TV, the outlet founded by 2020 election denier and pillow mogul Mike Lindell, Lee promoted his legal defense fund and implied that by contacting Freeman he was “exercis[ing] rights in my duties” as a pastor “to also be responsible in this governmental or societal realm.” During the interview with host Sherronna Bishop, Lee likened modern America to Nazi Germany, called the charges against him “a lie” and “evil,” and said that “it's time for good people to stand up and say, ‘Enough of this nonsense.’” As Lee and Bishop promoted the GiveSendGo fundraiser, Bishop urged her listeners “not to make just a one time contribution, but to be a monthly supporter while going through this battle.” One GiveSendGo donor who gave $1,000 to Lee said they heard the interview with Bishop and that the charges were “based on false accusations concocted by demonic, globalist Marxists and Mohammadans.” [Lindell TV, 2/22/24; Talking Points Memo, 6/13/22; The Guardian, 1/15/24; GiveSendGo, accessed 3/19/24]

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    Citation From Lindell TV's February 22, 2024, coverage of CPAC 2024 

  • Sheronna Bishop Steve Lee
  • In an interview with Real America’s Voice host Ben Bergquam at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Lee declared that “everything I've done is legal according to my First Amendment rights,” claimed that freedom of religion “is threatened," and promoted his GiveSendGo.  Bergquam — who has pushed conspiracy theories and claims of election fraud — prompted Lee to promote his fundraiser and pledged support to Lee and others, saying, “Appreciate standing next to you. We stand next to President Trump as well and everybody who's being unjustly attacked in this.” [Real America’s Voice, CPAC 2024 coverage; Media Matters, 11/8/2211/28/22; AZ Mirror, 11/30/22]

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    Citation From a video of Real America’s Voice’s CPAC 2024 coverage, uploaded to Rumble on March 1, 2024  

  • Lee promoted his fundraiser in an interview on Rumble which was uploaded with the title “The State of Georgia vs. Christianity.” Lee’s lawyer David Shestokas claimed in the interview that the charges are an attempt to “deprive people the opportunity to vote for President Trump in 2024.” Shestokas also claimed that the prosecution “extorted … guilty pleas” from other defendants in the case so that “they can start to say that Donald Trump is surrounded by criminals.” [Rumble, For Such a Time as This, 11/30/23]

  • Other Trump co-defendants have also used right-wing media to raise money for their legal defense

  • Harrison Floyd, who is also charged with attempting to coerce Freeman, appeared on a Rumble-based QAnon channel last year to promote his GiveSendGo legal fundraiser. [Media Matters, 12/1/23]

  • Jenna Ellis, who pleaded guilty to charges for her role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, did a right-wing media tour to promote her GiveSendGo fundraiser after she was indicted. During interviews, Ellis frequently referred to herself as “a political prisoner.” [Media Matters, 8/30/23]