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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

Trump calls McConnell a "loser" before hanging up on NPR host

Photos: Saul Loeb, Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump abruptly cut short an interview with NPR on Tuesday after being pressed about his false, baseless claims of election fraud in 2020 and lambasting Republicans who have spoken out against them.

Why it matters: The interview once again highlights the extent to which Trump is willing to turn against members of his own party if they do not back his unsupported claims.

Democrats take voting rights fight to state-level races

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Photos: Natalie Kolb/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images (left); Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Democratic gubernatorial candidates are unveiling their own voting rights plans ahead of this fall's midterms.

Why it matters: Congressional Democrats have, so far, failed to deliver federal legislation. Because Republicans have succeeded in introducing restrictions at the state and local levels, the ability to vote in 2022 will largely depend on where a person lives. That makes state executive races a high priority for both parties.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

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