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LinkedIn billionaire bankrolls voting firm Smartmatic as it fights Fox News in 2020 election defamation case

New York CNN  —  LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman is providing significant financial firepower to Smartmatic as the voting technology company fights Fox News and Newsmax over the right-wing networks’ repeated airing of 2020 election lies. Hoffman, a billionaire venture capitalist and prominent Democratic donor, framed his multimillion-dollar investment in Smartmatic as a way to strengthen the company’s global operations as it pursues the costly defamation lawsuits. “Smartmatic built a global business by using technology to better engage citizens, regardless of party or ideology, by making voting simple and trustworthy,” Hoffman said in a statement. “After Donald Trump lost in 2020, however, Smartmatic became a target of the defamatory campaign to overturn his defeat.” Hoffman, who said he has known Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica for years, said he is “thrilled” to support Smartmatic and help Mugica recover “what he is owed.” Terms of the investment, first reported by The Washington Post, were not disclosed. A person with knowledge of the matter wouldn’t say exactly how much money Hoffman poured into Smartmatic but told CNN the eight-figure investment surpassed $10 million. “This isn’t litigation financing,” the person said, adding that Hoffman “thinks the company is massively undervalued” and will make money off his investment if Smartmatic does well in the future. Furthermore, while Hoffman’s investment is significant, he “doesn’t have the power” to order Smartmatic’s lawyers to settle the lawsuits, the person added. “Fox’s strategy was to spend us into the ground,” the person said. “This is the response.” The investment comes as Hoffman steps up his criticism of Trump. The LinkedIn co-founder told CNN earlier this month that business leaders are scared to speak out against Trump for fear that the presumptive Republican nominee will retaliate. Hoffman argued that President Joe Biden is the more “pro-business” candidate because he respects the rule of law and Trump does not. Mugica, the Smartmatic CEO, welcomed the support from Hoffman. “The lies told by Fox News and Newsmax have not only defamed and damaged our business, they have also directly attacked the integrity of the nonpartisan civic work we have supported over more than two decades,” Mugica said in a statement. Smartmatic is seeking billions of dollars in damages from Fox News, Newsmax and other right-wing figures that falsely accused the company of rigging the 2020 election. On social media and in TV interviews, top Donald Trump allies repeatedly claimed, with no proof, that Smartmatic software fraudulently flipped millions of votes from Trump to Biden. The voting technology company’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News is still in the fact-finding “discovery” phase and isn’t expected to go to trial until 2025. Earlier this year, the New York judge overseeing the case allowed Smartmatic to broaden its lawsuit to include Fox Corporation, the parent company of the cable news juggernaut. The Smartmatic-Newsmax lawsuit is slated for trial in September in Delaware Superior Court, unless there is a last-minute settlement. And the small pro-Trump propaganda network One America News recently settled a lawsuit brought by Smartmatic over similar allegations. Smartmatic is also suing Trump 2020 campaign lawyer Sidney Powell and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell – two of the most egregious peddlers of election disinformation. Representatives for Powell and Lindell did not immediately respond to requests for comment. All of these media outlets and Trump allies deny wrongdoing. A spokesperson for Fox News Media claimed Smartmatic is trying to “chill First Amendment freedoms” and blasted its “alliance with a high profile Democratic donor and longtime supporter of President Biden to fund their lawsuit is entirely predictable.” In response to Hoffman’s investment, a Newsmax lawyer told CNN that the company “reported fairly on both sides of the 2020 election.” The lawyer also noted that Smartmatic executives were recently implicated by the Justice Department in a bribery scheme involving a top Philippines election official. Smartmatic denies the allegations.