Is Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib under investigation for election fraud because she made sure her name would appear as a voting option? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to fool Trump supporters and Republicans into sharing made up stories that are clearly marked as satire when you actually click them. Articles from the site are frequently copied by foreign-run fake news websites. The people liking and sharing these stories are enriching foreign website operators (or a liberal from Maine) via the ad revenue generated with the content which is probably not what they expected or wanted.
The story originated from an article published by Taters Gonna Tate on July 19, 2019 titled "Rashida Tlaib Under Investigation For Election Fraud" (archived here) which opened:
Inside sources have revealed that Michigan Democrat Representative Rashida Tlaib is under FBI investigation for alleged election tampering in her own election.
It is alleged that Tlaib, in her zeal to win and attempt to take down the president, rigged voting machines in her district to allow her name to appear as a voting option. This after her republican rival, whose company manufactured the machines, had erased any mention of her on the ballots.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Rashida Tlaib Under Investigation For Election Fraud
Inside sources have revealed that Michigan Democrat Representative Rashida Tlaib is under FBI investigation for alleged election tampering in her own election. It is alleged that Tlaib, in her zeal...
There is no such FBI investigation ongoing and the story was posted in the category "Satire and/or Conservative Fan Fiction". Also, making sure your name is on the ballot is of course perfectly legitimate and the story was making fun of that.
Note that this satirical story is different from this Fox News report involving a possible campaign finance violation:
Rashida Tlaib's campaign paid her $17,500 in salary after Election Day, in possible violation of FEC rules: report
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is facing questions after campaign records revealed she paid herself $17,500 as a salary after the midterm elections, in what appeared to be a violation of campaign finance rules, a report said. Tlaib, a firebrand freshman Democrat from Detroit, has been facing scrutiny over her connections to radical anti-Israel activists and a profane call to impeach President Trump.
That investigation did not conclude yet but it did not involve election fraud since it was not about directly tampering with votes but about potentially improper payments made after the election. That story did note:
An FEC spokesperson told the Washinton Free Beacon that candidates are allowed to make payments to themselves after the election -- but only for activities that happened during the election period.
An election law and government ethics lawyer also told the outlet that Tlaib may have deflated her monthly payments during the campaign for political purposes while "knowing full well that she would make up any difference at the end by giving herself a lump sum payment."
The story about the election fraud was published by a liberal satire magazine and shouldn't be taken at face value. The site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run byself-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. Blair has been in a feud with fact checking website Snopes for some time now and has also criticized other fact checkers in the past who labeled his work "fake news" instead of satire. In reaction to this he has recently rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages so they carry extremely visible disclaimers everywhere.
Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":
The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.
Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up.
Here is a video of Blair explaining how his process works:
If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:
The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.
If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes tatersgonnatate.com as:
A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.
According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about tatersgonnatate.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Minnesota Schools Did NOT Make Arabic Classes Mandatory
- Fake News: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Did NOT Say 'We Pay Soldiers Too Much'
- Fake News: Trump Administration Did NOT Start Deportation Proceedings Against AOC and Omar
- Fake News: David Hogg, Protest Group NOT Blocking Washington Parade
- Fake News: President Trump Did NOT Say "I Will Pay For July 4 Parade Out Of My Own Pocket"