MADISON, WI (AP) — Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said Tuesday that she will donate any money left over from her bids to force election recounts in three states to groups dedicated to election reform and voting rights.
Stein’s campaign raised about $7.3 million to fund her recount efforts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and she said she expects there to be some leftover money once all expenses are paid. There are currently $7.4 million in recount expenses, but that’s expected to decrease once the Wisconsin and Michigan costs are finalized.
Republican Donald Trump narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in all three states on his way to victory. Wisconsin was the only state that completed a recount, finishing Monday with little change in the results. Trump beat Clinton by nearly 23,000 votes in the state. A federal court halted Michigan’s recount after three days and another federal judge didn’t allow a recount in Pennsylvania.
“The final Wisconsin vote is in and guess what – we just picked up an additional 131 votes,” Trump tweeted after Wisconsin completed its recount Monday. “The Dems and Green Party can now rest. Scam!”
Trump planned to hold a rally Tuesday night near Milwaukee as part of his victory tour, giving him a chance to comment in Wisconsin about the just-completed recount.
Stein, in a conference call with reporters, blamed “bureaucratic hurdles, financial extortion and legal maneuvering” for blocking her stated goal of verifying the accuracy of the votes cast.
Among the criticism that Trump and his supporters have leveled at Stein was that she was pursuing the recounts to raise her own profile and pad her campaign coffers. Stein only won about 1 percent of the vote in the three states.
Stein said Tuesday that she had raised $7.33 million from nearly 161,300 donors. Even if she doesn’t keep any leftover money, the recounts helped her build a database of donors that could be sold to others or tapped for future efforts.
Stein hoped to add to that list by soon launching an online survey asking donors who they would like any leftover money to be given to. Stein said the names of groups getting the money will be made public “in the coming weeks.”
Stein also provided an accounting of what she has spent money on so far. The most, nearly $3.5 million, went to Wisconsin to pay for its recount. If the final cost is higher, Stein’s campaign would have to pay for it. But if it is less, she would be refunded the difference. Those expenses aren’t expected to be finalized until the end of December.
The next largest Stein expense, more than $1.6 million, was for legal fees. Other expenses included payments to recount observers, consultants and nearly $1 million to Michigan for its aborted recount, some of which Stein expected to be refunded.
Stein insisted throughout that her goal was not to overturn the results, potentially handing the election to Clinton, but rather to ensure the integrity of the vote and voting systems. She alleged, without evidence, that voting patterns in all three states raised concerns about potential hacking or security breaches.
Election officials in all three states, along with judges who heard lawsuits filed both by Stein and pro-Trump forces, said there was no evidence to support such claims.
“We do not have a voting system we can trust,” Stein said Tuesday, as her attorney vowed to keep pursue a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania challenging elements of its election system.