Elizabeth Lavin

Politics & Government

Q&A: Doug Deason, Major Dallas Trump Donor, Talks the Election

Doug Deason helped President Trump focus on criminal justice reform, after donating nearly a million dollars to his campaign in 2016. What does Deason make of the election?

Doug Deason is the president of Deason Capital Services, LLC, but I know him as someone I love to verbally arm wrestle with. We share common ground on criminal justice reform, where he is my hero. But mostly our world views are … not the same. He describes himself as right of center, I’m left of center, but I doubt we would agree on the exact location of center.

He was, and continues to be, involved in the inner workings of the Trump administration. In 2016, he and his father, Darwin, donated $900,000 to the Trump campaign. He has organized fundraisers for Trump across the country and has helped the president prioritize criminal justice reform. So, obviously, I wondered what he thought about the current state of things. Highlights: he believes the president contesting the election is a good thing; that Trump’s greatest legacy will be the criminal justice reform he signed into law with the First Step Act; and that a Biden presidency should not scare anyone. Brantley Hargrove profiled Deason for in May of this year, if you’d like to know more about him.

The interview was edited for length and clarity, but I have a transcript if anyone wants to know Doug’s strategy for fly-fishing in a shallow stream when trout are spawning (don’t worry, he doesn’t hurt the mamas).

You’re a Trump supporter and a donor and a friend of the First Family. In the months before the election, the President began signaling that the election would be rigged, that mail-in ballots were ripe for fraud. To no one’s surprise, he’s contesting the election. How does that square with all of the Republicans who won on those same mail-in ballots? Do you think contesting the results is a good idea? I think it’s a great idea, because I think whether there’s fraud or not, it’ll help settle the matter. The vice president came out and asked the country to stop the animosity, stop the hate and all of that. That’s after four years of the left hating Trump and all of the deplorables, such as myself. And that’s not how relationships work.

So I think it’s an important process to go through. It’s not costing citizens—other than Republicans—any money because we’re using the funds that were leftover (from the campaign) plus additional funds that we raised. I do think it needs to be done quickly. There are thousands of Republican attorneys who volunteered to work on this.

The teams are reaching out to people who might have seen irregularities, and volunteers follow up to find out if it is real. If they can verify it, attorneys will contact the tipster and get an affidavit and file it with the city, the county, the state, the secretary of state’s office and/or the FEC. If there are a lot of similar complaints coming from one area, they know that there might be a pattern of fraud. So I think it’s important. The vice president is not technically the president-elect yet. The media is not the arbiter of who decides our elections, right? There’s a process that you go through and each state has a different deadline.

But how long can this go on? It varies by state. I think it’s going to be good for the country, and good for the right. If we go through this and the right can be told that well, contrary to all the rumors and all the statements on social media Biden won, it will be helpful.

So your point is that having verification either way could be healthy for the country. Right. I think that if all of us, all the deplorables in the middle of the flyover states, can get to a comfort level that, hey, you know, we sent out squads all over the country and investigated these allegations of fraud. And maybe we found some here and there, but there wasn’t enough to justify overturning an election, then we’d know. I think that would make people feel better. Joe Biden is not a particularly inspiring candidate but it might have come down to anybody but Trump. He could have been the proverbial Yellow Dog.

Now if they find some instances of mass fraud, or some illegally counted votes, which is highly unlikely, it changes the apparent outcome. So imagine that Trump wins. The left has already celebrated, and as upset as they were on election night of 2016, or the following morning, they’re going to be even more upset. And now, they’re out riding and BLM and antifa are doing violence and our leaders aren’t going just sit back and let that happen. They’re going to jump in the fray.

That is the worst outcome imaginable. You know, Arizona. My wife’s been there, and when the AP (editor’s note: and Fox News) made that call, there were still 150,000 votes left — a big chunk of which were military, overseas military. The overseas military breaks heavily for the president. So it was a really poor decision to call Arizona ahead of time. It’ll probably end up the Supreme Court in the next couple of weeks. So it will be interesting to see how that goes. 

Well, speaking of the Supreme Court, I know that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is important to you, and it looks like there is not a lot of momentum in the court for that to happen. Your thoughts? We helped to fund that suit through the Center for the American Future, which is part of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. We’re one of the original co-founders of the Center for the  American Future. The ACA is just is a poorly written law that was never implemented properly. It was designed to just push us into a socialist system of health care. It didn’t hold providers accountable. And then they tried to defend it as a tax.

It was important to me because of the statement that Obama made when he announced it, and that was “if you like your healthcare, you can keep it.” And we, as a company, and our employees, we all liked our policy. Well, we got one more year. And then we got notice that our healthcare plans had been canceled, and now we’re getting a much less comprehensive, much more expensive plan with a much larger deductible. And the ACA took advantage of the states, because the federal government funds it for a period of time if a state opts in, and then it yanks out the funding. I know there’s a better way to do it. Several plans have been floated out.

Doug not to interrupt you, but after all these years, Republicans, and especially President Trump, have promised to produce a plan. The country has seen nothing. We’ve produced multiple plans. Actually, it’s just the mainstream media never covers it.

Where are the plans? They’ve never surfaced in a bill or been put forth as legislation. The plans require that we get rid of the ACA first. They can’t submit a bill without the ACA being taken away. And of course, once Democrats took control of the House nothing was going to happen. So there are several really good plans that have been put on the table and when the ACA goes away, they can be implemented.

The value in ACA is that preexisting conditions are covered. That was one issue that it forced this country to deal with. So whatever happens to ACA, pre-existing conditions will never be an issue again. And that’s one of the really good things that came out of it. The divide between the right and the left is so unfortunate.

You and I, we have the same goals and concerns about society. And we maybe have different ways of getting there. But we have the same goals and I think most people do. And I think that social media and the media, the news at large, have caused the splits because they play to whatever can get you riled up. What gets you angry. The mainstream media on television stirs up the left with its news, the right does as well, though we don’t have as many outlets. The right has a lot more on radio. 

What do you think President Trump’s greatest legacies will be – those that can’t be turned over by executive orders? Because a lot of what he did was undo the executive orders President Obama had created. Obviously, that’ll be a tool for President Biden, especially with what looks likely to be a Republican Senate. What enduring legacies will he have left? I think his most enduring legacy will be what he’s done for people of color. And the First Step Act (criminal justice reform bill) will survive as the main achievement. I don’t think that it would have happened without President Trump. Mitch McConnell declared it was dead on arrival. The president called him and said I want that bill on the floor this year. Obviously, we worked really hard with a lot of different angles, not just the right, but the left and right. Outside advocacy groups, congressmen and senators—Dick Durbin, Cory Booker, Mike Lee and John Cornyn—were working together on all that. The president pushed it and forced it to the floor. He got it done. And that’s huge.

The impact of that is just been absolutely incredible. It opened the president’s eyes to the plight of the poor and especially people of color who are poor. He also signed into law funding for HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

What was with Jeff Sessions? The minute he got in office, he opened up the private prisons again. He was opposed to all of the criminal justice reforms that you and I care about. You know, I look back at the things, putting aside the statements and things that the president has done that aggravate people and inflame people, one of the dumbest things he did was take a sitting Republican senator out of position.

Now I hated having Jeff Sessions in the Senate because he was such a roadblock to any kind of reform at the federal level. But then when he put him in as attorney general, and we were working on the First Step Act, Sessions had not seen the bill, was completely unfamiliar with it, even though a similar bill had been in the works since 2014. We knew we needed to get the White House involved. The president had Jared in one ear, and Jeff Sessions in the other, and then Kim Kardashian walked in. When she reached out to Jared with a case she cared about, she became instrumental in getting the president to see the issues. I give Kim Kardashian credit for that.

Are you concerned about a Joe Biden presidency? Well, I’m not that worried about it. Frankly, it’s just like when Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush, and it just reminds me so much of that time except there’s a lot more animosity between the right and the left now. I remember Dad and I had been to dinner, and we’re riding home. And he was really upset. It was the day after Clinton had won, and he was concerned about all these terrible things he was going to do. I assured him we were going to be fine. And I believe this today, that the market economy is set up to roll. The economy’s going to be great. With successful capitalism all boats rise. And that’s what happened with Clinton. And, you know, the market loves gridlock and we’re going to have gridlock. The Senate will win one or both of the seats in Georgia, I would bet.

Are you going to invest heavily in Georgia? No, no, we will, but not super heavily. I’m pretty tapped. But it’ll be gridlock either way.

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