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Jeff Flake. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Former Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who's now President Biden's nominee to be ambassador to Turkey, is funding a nonprofit focused on election processes in his home state of Arizona, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Arizona is ground-zero for election conspiracy theories. While those behind the Public Integrity Foundation say that's not the impetus for the group, they hope it will address some of the underlying issues.

What's happening: Flake's Senate campaign committee — which is still active — donated $150,000 to the Foundation in late September, days after it was formed, according to Federal Election Commission records.

  • Tyler Montague, the Foundation's chairman, told Axios the group approached Flake about backing its efforts, and his donation is its largest financial commitment, so far.
  • "Jeff Flake is a long time friend, and he’s also interested in one of the charter purposes of the foundation, which is to do research and education around alternative forms of voting," Montague said in a text message.
  • Like Flake, Montague is a Republican who's been critical of Donald Trump. He also runs the Public Integrity Alliance, a Mesa-based advocacy group that sued Maricopa County last year over ballot instructions it said violated state law.
  • Flake did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his donation.

The details: Montague said the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, will study practices such as ranked-choice voting and approval voting.

  • "We aren’t limiting ourselves to any one particular method," he said.
  • The group is eyeing models such as Alaska's, which in 2020 included a top-four primary and a ranked-choice general election.
  • "Ranked-choice voting has a lot of merits even though NYC botched their first election with it," Montague said.

Between the lines: The Foundation is launching in a state bedeviled by controversies and conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election.

  • While a Republican-led "audit" of the state's election confirmed Biden's victory last year, state and national GOP leaders continue to falsely claim that fraud tainted the outcome.
  • Montague said that controversy wasn't the impetus for the Foundation but improved election processes could be an antidote in the future.
  • "It’s definitely a sign that there is a disconnect between the agenda of who we are electing and what the general public believes/wants," he said. "Which is one of the key arguments made by people who advocate for something like RCV over our current election methods."

Go deeper

Jan. 6 select committee subpoenas former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark

Chair Bennie Thompson questions witnesses during the first hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, July 27. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee issued a subpoena to Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who reportedly helped former President Donald Trump amplify false claims around the election.

Why it matters: The announcement comes on the heels of a report by the Senate Judiciary Committee that detailed the extent of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.

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