President-elect Donald Trump isn’t mincing words. He believes the recount effort – and multimillion-dollar fundraising goal – led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein is nothing more than a scam.
Stein and her party are raising money for presidential recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has offered help, but Clinton’s own lead counsel admitted that the recount won’t likely lead to any changes in the outcome of the presidential election.
Stein started the push for a recount last week. Since then, she has raised more than $6 million toward an effort neither she nor her party can guarantee will actually happen. A closer look at the fine print on her website says “we can only pledge we will demand recounts in WI and MI and support the voter-initiated effort in PA.”
She adds, “If we raise more than what’s needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform. This is what we did with our surplus in 2004.”
She does not go into specifics about what those “election integrity efforts” might be.
Stein’s initial $2.5 million fundraising goal was surpassed in less than 48 hours. Since then, she’s upped her target to $4.5 million, but language on her donation page said the cost could go even higher. With attorneys' fees factored in, the total cost is likely to be $6 million to $7 million.
That’s a lot of money for the Green Party, especially considering Stein’s entire 2016 presidential campaign brought in $3,509,477 from donors.
“This is ridiculous,” Reince Priebus, former head of the Republican National Committee and incoming chief of staff for Trump, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think the American people know this is a waste of everybody’s time and money. We will win again for the second time.”
Over the weekend, Trump also blasted the recount campaign.
"This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than 1 percent of the vote overall and wasn't even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount," Trump said in a written statement.
He followed it up with a tweet Saturday night: “The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated & demoralized Dems."
The Green Party responded on their Facebook page: “@realDonaldTrump Hollow words from a President-elect replacing one set of establishment politicians & corporate insiders w/another. #StillASwamp.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lost to Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary, said the recount isn’t a big deal.
“It’s taking place. The Green Party has the legal right to do it,” he said during CNN’s “State of the Union.” “No one expects there to be profound change, but there’s nothing wrong with going through the process.”
In Wisconsin, Trump leads Clinton by 22,177 votes. In Michigan, he has a lead of 10,704 votes, and in Pennsylvania, he’s up by 70,638 votes.
The Green Party has pushed for recounts before.
Following the 2004 presidential election, the Green Party and Libertarian Party footed the bill for a recount in Ohio. The end result was that Democrat John Kerry gained less than 300 votes over George W. Bush – a number that made virtually no difference in the margin.