Meet the Lehigh Valley millionaire who tried to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election

Gun Rights

Bill Bachenberg isn’t a household name in Pennsylvania, but in the world of MAGA Republicans and 2020 election deniers, he could be the most influential man you’ve never heard about.

The 65-year-old millionaire, who lives in North Whitehall Township, allegedly spent months secretly funding efforts after the 2020 election to uncover fraud in at least three states, including Pennsylvania, according to a federal lawsuit and a former employee-turned-whistleblower. Some voting machines were breached in the process.

Bachenberg, the owner of Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, a popular clay target shooting destination, is alleged to have provided a $1 million line of credit trying to prove that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. He also chaired Pennsylvania’s slate of fake electors submitted to Congress.

Bachenberg isn’t charged in indictments against Trump and his allies alleging that they engaged in election interference.

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But a recent federal lawsuit filed in Michigan claims that he was the financial backing behind voting machine analyses in Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when the so-called audits failed to uncover any fraud, Bachenberg refused to pay the cybersecurity company that conducted them, according to the lawsuit filed by New York-based company XRVision.

As investigations continue into efforts by Trump and those in his orbit to overturn the 2020 election, interviews with former and current Republican officials from the Lehigh Valley offer new insight into Bachenberg, who has quietly but rapidly expanded his political influence since getting involved in Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Several people who know him told The Inquirer that Bachenberg, a former board member of the National Rifle Association and former tech company CEO, used to be considered a traditional Republican. He supported moderate and independent-minded Republicans, they said, but soured on them when they wouldn’t do his bidding, weren’t seen as supportive of Trump, or — most recently — wouldn’t assist in efforts to overturn election results.

“What really amazed me the most is that one man would be willing to sacrifice so much personally for a narrative he knew was false,” said Mike Ryan, a former employee at Bachenberg’s nonprofit serving veterans in Lackawanna County.

Bachenberg could not be reached for comment. On Tuesday, when a reporter visited Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, an employee there said he wouldn’t have anything to say.

“Yeah he’s not going to be interested in talking,” she said. “You can give me your card but I can tell you he’s not going to call you.”

Lehigh Valley man named in $10 million lawsuit over 2020 election fraud investigation

Support for Trump and an ‘angry agenda’

Bachenberg founded DBSi, a systems storage company based in Hanover Township, Northampton County, that was acquired by a larger cybersecurity firm in 2012. He purchased Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays in 2000 and also founded Camp Freedom, a nonprofit organization on more than 2,300 acres that brings together veterans for hunts in Lackawanna County.

Bachenberg has made some political donations to GOP candidates in the past, campaign finance records show, but he became more involved in politics since 2016. He has said he knows Donald Trump Jr. through his involvement in the NRA and has gone shooting with him, and in 2016 became a member of one of Pennsylvania’s first pro-Trump PACs.

His financial involvement increased after Trump was elected, and he and his wife Laura spent more than $507,000 to support Trump and other Republican candidates or PACs in 2020, when he also served as a cochair of the Sportsmen for Trump PAC. He hosted a campaign event for U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick before last year’s GOP primary.

“Bill Bachenberg has been very serious about supporting causes and candidates in which he believes,” said Charlie Gerow, a Republican insider who also served as a false elector in 2020. “It’s been more causes than candidates, but he’s been very effective when he’s supported candidates.”

He’s worked against candidates, as well.

Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent used to have an annual fundraiser at Bachenberg’s Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, a former quarry turned-shooting range that’s now a destination for sportsmen around the region. Dent, a Republican whose district included Bachenberg’s home and shooting range, is a moderate — and frequent critic of Trump.

When Dent’s staff reached out in May 2017 to schedule the annual fundraiser, the event manager responded that Bachenberg and other local Republicans are “fed up with Congressman Dent’s behavior and the lack of being a team player with the Trump administration,” according to an email exchange obtained by The Inquirer. ”We will be working to unseat the Congressman, hence his event is not welcome,” Bachenberg’s event manager added in the email.

Dent, who resigned from Congress in 2018, said in an interview last week: “It’s too bad, because I liked the gun club. Guess I can’t go back.”

Bachenberg also later donated to help unseat former State Sen. Pat Browne, a longtime Republican from the Allentown area who lost the 2022 primary election to Sen. Jarrett Coleman, according to campaign finance filings. Bachenberg worked to unseat Browne because Browne “wouldn’t aid and assist his efforts to overturn a free election in the Commonwealth,” Dent said. Browne declined to comment.

After Trump’s defeat, Bachenberg became obsessed with uncovering fraud, telling fellow Republicans they needed to “get out of their foxholes,” as one official recalled, and lashed out at “cowards” in his party who tried to break it to him that Biden had won.

“When Trump came along, he bought into that angry agenda,” Dent added.

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Lehigh Valley business owner in fake Trump elector investigation

A focus on finding voter fraud

Bachenberg became “unhinged” after the 2020 election, calling other Republicans “dumb as dog s—,” among other profane insults, according to a Republican official from the Lehigh Valley who declined to be named due to concerns about retribution.

“I’m all about election integrity,” the official said, “but he’d literally show up with a circuit board from who knows where or what and he’d be carrying it around in his pocket and be like, ‘This is how they cheated.’ And you’re like, ‘I don’t even know what that is. It’s an open circuit board that could be from anything. I have no freaking clue what you’re talking about.’”

In a May 2021 email obtained by The Inquirer, Bachenberg wrote to his “fellow patriots” detailing so-called fraud in six battleground states. He estimated 992,467 votes were cast illegally in Pennsylvania and that the totals excluded the “false tabulations” made by voting machines. President Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, and there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

“If you want to save our country for future generations and can help financially (any amount) please let me know,” Bachenberg wrote. “We have ways to keep you anonymous and make sure the money is used in the most critical areas.”

Bachenberg also warned recipients to stop using Google, turn off location tracking, not sync their phones with their cars, get rid of social media, and stop posting pictures online. He signed the email as “007,” the code number for the fictional secret agent James Bond.

In addition to the federal lawsuit he faces in Michigan, Bachenberg has potential legal troubles ahead for his alleged role in directing voting machine audits.

He was subpoenaed last year by the U.S. committee that investigated the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and efforts to overturn the election. He is likely to be subpoenaed in Georgia, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Ryan, who worked with Bachenberg’s nonprofit Camp Freedom from January 2020 through November 2022, said he’s seen the man’s positive qualities shine through in his work at the organization — but said he also thought his fixation on undermining American democracy was dangerous.

“Bill Bachenberg, at his core, is a wonderful human being,” Ryan said. “He’s a husband, he’s a father. I’ve seen the man emotional. What stood out the most to me were the things that weren’t positive, that could affect not just his family, but could affect our entire country.”

Since leaving Camp Freedom last year, Ryan has come forward as a whistle-blower against Bachenberg. He was interviewed in April as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into efforts to overturn the election, CNN reported. He said he testified that Bachenberg had direct contact with Trump and his top allies, including Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman.

Litigation over voting machine searches

In July, XRVision sued Bachenberg and Michigan attorney Stefanie Lambert for $10 million in damages, saying they refused to pay their bills when they didn’t like the outcome of the company’s analysis of voting machines. Lambert was charged and pleaded not guilty in Michigan for her alleged role in the voting machine breach.

Bachenberg also appears to be connected to efforts to search voting machines in Arizona, where he was copied on an email about a payment dispute with a cybersecurity firm, according to news reports.

“PA will be one of the next domino’s [sic] to fall,” Bachenberg wrote in a September 2021 email about the Arizona voting machine report.

And the Michigan lawsuit alleges that Bachenberg orchestrated analyses of voting machines in Fulton County, Pa. The complaint says he hired XRVision, but refused to pay the company after it failed to uncover election fraud. The state decertified Fulton County’s voting machines for allowing a third-party company to access them, and the state Supreme Court sanctioned the county in April for its actions.

“This report did not find any evidence of election fraud in the 2020 election, and Defendants were furious,” the complaint states about Lambert and Bachenberg.

XRVision contended that Lambert Bachenberg demanded that the company instead write a report stating that there were “cheat codes” in the software and that election systems had been hacked. The company refused, and Bachenberg refused to pay the $550,000 he owed for the Pennsylvania and Michigan studies, the suit alleges.

Earlier this month, when a process server delivered a copy of the lawsuit to Bachenberg at Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays outside a campaign event for GOP congressional candidate Kevin Dellicker, he allegedly assaulted the messenger.

The process server, a former constable, wrote in a court filing that Bachenberg kept trying to grab his phone out of his hand, then punched and shoved him.

“He then pushed me and I twisted my left hip which is healing from a third replacement,” the process server wrote, adding that he required treatment at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Bachenberg has continually avoided the spotlight. But he spoke publicly about his support for Trump in a rare instance in October 2020, as keynote speaker at a Patriots for Trump fundraiser. He was so unknown that the emcee was unsure how to pronounce his name.

Video obtained by Media Matters for America shows him delivering an awkward, somewhat disjointed speech that began with him boasting about hanging out with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and in Washington.

After railing against the “fake news,” Bachenberg grabbed a life-size cardboard cutout of Trump and stood alongside it as he thanked military veterans and first responders.

“Please join me and President Trump,” he said, “thanking you for your service and protecting our families.”

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