Is this the new Republican politician playbook? Run for office, lose election, claim fraud, rake in cash.
Loren Culp, who lost the race for governor of Washington to incumbent Democrat Jay Inslee by more than half a million votes, has spent the past month trying sow doubt about the integrity of the election by using Donald Trump’s favorite play of making unsubstantiated claims of vote fraud. The state Republican party refuses to support that effort and it’s been rejected by Washington’s GOP Secretary of State, Kim Wyman.
Still, Culp is undeterred. Just like Trump he says he will “never concede” and has filed a lawsuit seeking to have an audit of ballots and voting machines done in five Washington counties. But it’s the failed candidate’s post-election fundraising and campaign spending that’s attracting scrutiny.
While not on the same scale as Trump’s fraud claim grifting, which has netted him about $250 million in the past six weeks, Culp has taken in at least $55,000 since the Nov. 3 election. Where has the money gone? According to a filing with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) he’s paid himself more than $33,000 in lost wages and reimbursed himself for $15,000 in mileage.
The payments appear to be perfectly legal. Washington state law permits candidates to draw from campaign funds to recoup expenses and lost income. While running for governor Culp was on leave from his paid position as the only police officer in the town of Republic, Wash. Culp lost that job in October when local officials decided to contract with the Ferry County sheriff’s department for police services. A Seattle Times review of PDC data shows that Culp’s self-reimbursement is the largest ever for a political candidate in Washington state.
He’s also used some of the money he’s raised to pay an associate who has been spreading election fraud rumors for years $26,000. And he’s used money to buy data to prove his theories about vote-tabulation machines riddled with “hidden and secret software” and “silicon circuits” used “to steal elections.”
Here’s a video clip from Culp’s election night rally.
Loren Culp For Governor 2020! Election Night Victory Rally https://t.co/Ci7Y2UM6J2
— Loren Culp (@LorenCulp) November 4, 2020