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Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, speaks to residents during a meet-and-greet Jan. 6, 2022, in La Grande. {div id=”highlighter--hover-tools” style=”display: none;”} {/div} {div id=”highlighter--hover-tools” style=”display: none;”} {/div}

Oregon U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, does not believe former President Donald Trump’s claim that President Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election because of voter fraud.

“The election was not stolen, it was bought,” Bentz, a first-term congressman, said during a meet-and-greet held Jan. 6, in La Grande.

Bentz said Democrats had an enormous edge in funding donors with deep pockets, including one who donated $400 million to Biden’s campaign. Bentz said the Democrats spent several times more money per vote than the Republicans did.

Bentz referenced a large donation Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made and suggested it benefited Biden and Democrats.

According to a 2020 article from the news website Vox, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, personally made a $300 million donation to two groups: Center for Tech and Civic Life and the Center for Election Innovation & Research. The money was specifically designated to recruit poll workers, supply them with personal protection equipment and set up drive-thru voting. The rest was distributed to state election officials throughout the country.

Both groups are 501(c)(3) nonprofits, which are legally prohibited from political campaign activity.

Bentz is hopeful Republicans can win control of the House of Representatives in mid term elections in November. He noted. though, that is when heavy lifting will begin for Republicans. He said House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, issued this warning earlier when speaking at a gathering of about 40 Republican freshmen in Congress.

McCarthy said members of the minority party have it easier because they often find themselves just voting no. McCarthy said, however, they will find when they are in the majority party the situation can be more challenging.

“He told us, ‘When you are in power you have to make things happen, it is hard,’” Bentz said.

Bentz spoke in La Grande on the one-year anniversary of the day Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol Building in an attempt to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election. Bentz said he believes Democrats are blowing the Jan. 6 riot out of proportion in an attempt to divert attention from the issues people really are concerned about.

“It is a huge opportunity for them to distract the nation from inflation,’’ Bentz said.

Bentz also said United States Attorney General Merrick Garland is asking the FBI to investigate a rise in harassment and threats of violence against school board members nationwide. Bentz said it is not the FBI’s place to do this.

“This is what communities should be looking into,” he said.

On Oct. 4, Garland released a memo directing the FBI to meet with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement to develop strategies to address “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” against school board members and school employees.

Later that month, Garland defended the memo at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting after Republicans accused the attorney general of overreach, according to The Associated Press.

“The obligation of the Justice Department is to protect the American people against violence and threats of violence and that particularly includes public officials,” Garland said.

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