Trump adviser hosts fundraiser for Senate candidate Ted Budd

U.S. Senate candidate Ted Budd and former President Donald Trump share the stage during a rally in Selma Saturday, April 9, 2022.

U.S. Senate candidate Ted Budd and former President Donald Trump share the stage during a rally in Selma Saturday, April 9, 2022.

A woman integral in scheming with former President Donald Trump to try to overturn the 2020 election results is now hosting a fundraiser for a U.S. Senate candidate in North Carolina.

Trump adviser Cleta Mitchell, a resident of Pinehurst who has been repeatedly mentioned throughout Jan. 6, 2021, news coverage and committee hearings in Congress, is hosting a fundraiser on Aug. 15 for Rep. Ted Budd. Budd is running to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr.

“We’re great with it,” said Jonathan Felts, senior adviser to Budd. “Like many people leaving D.C. and other high-tax areas, she decided North Carolina is a great place for her retirement, and we’re thrilled about this event. It’s going to be a great event.”

Mitchell, a conservative attorney, is most widely known for being on the phone with Trump when he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During the call Trump demanded that Raffensperger find enough votes in Georgia to change the state’s election results in his favor, The Washington Post first reported.

The newspaper’s reporting led to Mitchell resigning from her law firm.

When asked if he is concerned by the appearance of having someone so wrapped up in the Jan. 6 investigations involved in a fundraiser for Budd, Felts said he wasn’t sure what a reporter was referring to.

“We’ve been endorsed by President Trump and Democrats have been using that same message against (Budd) now dating back to March of last year, so it didn’t have much of an impact in the primary and I don’t think it will have much of an impact in the General Election.”

Dory MacMillan, a spokeswoman for Budd’s Democratic opponent, Cheri Beasley, said she wasn’t surprised.

“Given Congressman Budd’s record of siding with special interests and wealthy donors over North Carolinians, it’s unsurprising that Congressman Budd is more focused on spending time with out-of-touch mega donors pushing the Big Lie than hard working North Carolinians,” MacMillan said.

Aidan Johnson, a spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century, which conducts anti-Republican research, tweeted a recording of Budd calling the Jan. 6 rioters “patriots.”

“It should be no surprise that Ted Budd, who called the violent, cop killing January 6th rioters ‘patriots,’ is fundraising with a central figure in the former president’s plan to illegally overturn the 2020 election,” Johnson said.

On Jan. 6, 2021, as the insurrectionists broke into the U.S. Capitol to try to stop the election certification of President Joe Biden, The Washington Post reported, there was a seven-hour gap of calls to and from the White House. When Trump resumed making calls, some of his first were to two North Carolina residents — former Chief Justice Mark Martin and Mitchell.

The Jan. 6 committee hearings have also proven that it was Mitchell who recruited attorney John Eastman to write a memo regarding the constitutional role state lawmakers play in choose electors. She testified, after being subpoenaed by the committee, that plans to do so came immediately after the election, and possibly even before.

Ties to North Carolina

Mitchell is closely tied with three other North Carolinians: Amy Kate Budd, the wife of Ted Budd, and Debra and Mark Meadows, who served as Trump’s chief of staff and was a congressman representing the Asheville-area.

If either Meadows is associated with an organization, Mitchell’s name usually follows as the organization’s lawyer.

That is true of Debra Meadows’ organization, Right Women PAC, where Amy Kate Budd serves as an advisory member.

Right Women PAC, a political action committee aimed at finding conservative women to elect to Congress, has recently significantly increased its legal bills paying a high-profile law firm known to handle white-collar crimes and congressional investigations.

Edged GOP opponents

Budd’s fundraiser includes one other tie to the former president: Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

At one point, Lara Trump, who grew up in Wilmington, considered running against Budd for Burr’s seat. But last summer, Lara Trump decided against running and at the GOP state Convention in Greenville, the former president announced his endorsement of Budd.

Many believe that endorsement, and the financial backing of Club for Growth, a political action committee that has supported Budd throughout his political career, gave Budd the edge to win the Republican nomination over former Gov. Pat McCrory and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker.

Budd trails in fundraising

Despite Club for Growth’s financial support, Budd has been trailing Beasley in fundraising. Beasley collected $7.4 million last quarter, to Budd’s $2.1 million.

To attend the Budd fundraiser on Aug. 15, invited guests must pay $200 to $5,800. The highest ticket price gets the guest’s name listed on the invitation as a host, along with Mitchell’s.

The fundraiser will be held at a private home in Southern Pines. The exact address will not be given until a donor agrees to pay.

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