Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) is not one of the better-known figures in the extended universe of former President Trump’s political allies. However, based on text messages obtained by TPM, Allen is one of the members of Congress who worked most aggressively behind the scenes to reverse Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. Allen’s attempts to challenge the vote included passing unproven YouTube conspiracy videos from Romania to the White House and pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state. At least one of the paranoid election theories Allen texted to Meadows made its way directly to Trump.
Allen’s communications appeared in the 2,319 text messages that Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. TPM has obtained Meadows’ text log, which includes 27 messages he exchanged with Allen. Meadows and the select committee have not responded to multiple requests for comment. Allen and his office also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Allen’s first appearance in the log came on Nov. 25, 2020, more than two weeks after the election was called for Joe Biden. In it, he told Meadows that he had a well-placed anonymous “source” who could prove there had been “fraud” in the vote.
Officials at every level of government including Republicans and members of Trump’s own administration have confirmed there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Nevertheless, Meadows appeared receptive to Allen’s “source.”
“Let me know if I need to travel to hear in person the concerns. I can go tomorrow,” Meadows wrote on Nov. 26.
The texts Meadows provided to the committee are not necessarily a complete record of Allen’s correspondence with the chief of staff; however, the ones in the log show Allen was eager to overturn the election based on easily debunked, internet-fueled theories. For more information about the story behind the text log and our procedures for publishing the texts, read the introduction to this series.
According to the text log, Allen continued to message Meadows about his source on the evening of Nov. 26 after the former White House chief proposed making the trip.
Allen then passed along some links that appeared to be related to the information about “high tech and foreign governments in collusion with Democratic Party” from his supposed “source.” However, rather than secret government documents or credible analysis, Allen’s evidence was simply a pair of links. The first was a news story describing a data breach that occurred with driver’s license records in Georgia in 2005. Allen’s second “wild” link was a YouTube video from a Romanian organization. In that clip, an anti-vaccine activist interviewed a man who claimed to be an ex-intelligence operative. Without providing any hard evidence, the man said identities of “50 million” U.S. citizens were stolen via Ukraine in 2009 and 2018 to be used for voting in the 2020 election as part of a “$100 billion” plot involving illegal immigrants, blackmail and Romanian officials.
It was an utterly fantastical scenario. The Romanian man in the clip had no explanation for how votes from roughly one-sixth of the total U.S. population would be fabricated without detection. But Allen seemed to find the wild scenario credible. He sent Meadows an annotation describing the claims in the YouTube clip.
Allen also seemed to believe the information was being suppressed by Silicon Valley.
“I just got a notice from You Tube that they have closed me out, I was told that that the video I just sent you would be taken down? It disappeared? What is going on?” Allen asked Meadows in a follow-up message.
Allen’s concern that the video would be removed appears to have been unfounded. As of this writing, the Romanian clip is still online at the link Allen sent to Meadows.
The log includes another spate of messages from Allen and Meadows dated Jan. 5, 2021, the day before the election was due to be certified in Congress. That was also the day Georgia was holding a runoff election for its two Senate seats. In the messages, Allen indicated he was forwarding along a series of texts he exchanged with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Georgia was a major focus for Trump and his allies in the aftermath of the election. Trump’s efforts to overturn the vote there included calls where he leaned on Raffensperger and one of the secretary of state’s lead investigators tasked with reviewing the results. Based on the text log, Allen complained that there were issues with multiple voting machines for the runoff. He suggested Trump would be able to use this to fuel attacks on Raffensperger over the presidential result.
“Bottom line Dominion machines down in multiple polling precincts in Columbia County my Republican Strong Hold. This should give the President the Ammo he needs to go after Raffensperger,” Allen wrote.
Dominion, an election software company, has been the focus of many debunked right-wing conspiracy theories related to the 2020 race. The company has filed multiple defamation suits related to the claims. Based on the message forwarded to Meadows, Allen told Raffensperger he blamed him for Dominion.
Allen passed Meadows a message from Raffensperger indicating he was “already working” on the issue. Problems with the machines in Columbia County did not prevent anyone from voting. People were given paper ballots while the problems were being resolved. The machines were back online by 10 a.m.
Meadows thanked Allen for forwarding the texts, which apparently made their way to Trump. The former president tweeted about the issue and thanked Allen for highlighting it:
“Reports are coming out of the 12th Congressional District of Georgia that Dominion Machines are not working in certain Republican Strongholds for over an hour,” Trump wrote. “Ballots are being left in lock boxes, hopefully they count them. Thank you Congressman @RickAllen”
Trump’s post drew a rebuke from an official in Raffensperger’s office who noted the problem was “resolved hours ago” and assured “the votes of everyone will be protected and counted.”
“Sorry you received old intel Mr. President,” the official wrote.
After Jan. 5, there is one more text from Allen to Meadows in the log. It came on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the violence at the U.S. Capitol. Allen felt Trump needed prayers for the looming “Spiritual War.”
Meadows responded a minute later with an appreciative note for Allen.
“God bless you,” Meadows wrote.