BELLVILLE, Texas – Last week, a Texas state court dismissed a lawsuit that billionaire donor Frederic Eshelman had filed against True the Vote, finding that Eshelman did not have standing to bring his claims. Eshelman had sued True the Vote, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving election integrity, claiming he had a right to a refund to an alleged “conditional gift” of $2.5 million he made.
This is not the first time Eshelman has sued True the Vote over the same alleged conditional gift. Eshelman first sued True the Vote in federal court, but after the attorneys representing both Eshelman and True the Vote had a conference with the federal judge, who cast doubt on his claims, Eshelman voluntarily dismissed that case and immediately filed the identical case in state court. This kind of practice is commonly referred to as “judge shopping.”
Eshelman claimed he made a “conditional gift” to True the Vote after the November 2020 general election and claimed he had a right to a refund because his “conditions” had not been met. However, Eshelman did not provide documents to the court that proved his gift to True the Vote was conditional, or that he retained the right to a refund if the alleged conditions were not met. Both of those requirements are necessary under Texas law to require a charity to return a “conditional gift.” Because Eshelman did not even allege, let alone prove, that he had a right to a refund, the court granted True the Vote's “Plea to the Jurisdiction,” finding that Eshelman did not have standing to bring his case.
The Texas Attorney General has the presumptive duty in Texas to bring actions against charities that do not use their funds to advance their charitable organizational purposes or otherwise are acting improperly. The Texas Attorney General did not bring this case or intervene when notified of it. Public policy supports this type of law—it protects charitable organizations from harassing lawsuits while still protecting Texas citizens from charities that are “scamming” solicitations.
“Eshelman's legal attack sought to shut down the efforts of True the Vote through this frivolous lawsuit,” said True the Vote founder and President Catherine Engelbrecht. “True the Vote is thrilled to have this lawsuit in the rear view mirror so it can continue to focus on its critical work in supporting election integrity efforts around the country.”
“Eshelman's lawsuit was frivolous and without legal merit,” said James Bopp, Jr., who serves as True the Vote's general counsel. “Many of the so-called ‘conditions' Eshelman claimed to have existed would have been illegal or unethical for True the Vote to have complied with. While charitable organizations like True the Vote depend on its contributors for support, they cannot allow donors to take advantage of them with frivolous lawsuits—doing so could destroy them or at least detract them from the important work of the charity and set a terrible precedent for other donors to other charities to do the same.”
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True the Vote (TTV) is an IRS-designated 501(c)3 voters' rights organization, founded to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.