A weekend-long conference hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and focused on conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election kicked off Saturday morning in Springfield.

A few hundred people filed into the Springfield Expo Center to hear from Lindell, an ally of former President Donald Trump who has garnered national notoriety for his repeated claims of election fraud. Those claims have been debunked by election officials across the country and earned him legal sanctions over “frivolous” lawsuits against election systems companies.

Lindell has touted the event as his most significant yet, since before details were announced. He previously called it “the most important event in our lifetimes.” Invites were sent to “grassroots” individuals and groups around the country, he said, and the weekend’s events are being livestreamed on Lindell’s website.

“The only way this weekend fails is if nobody watches,” Lindell said in his opening remarks Saturday.

More:Election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell holding Springfield ‘summit’: What to know

Speakers who joined Lindell on stage Saturday morning included Dr. Douglas Frank, an Ohio math teacher who has risen to prominence from speaking throughout the country about the 2020 election and false claims of it being stolen. He spoke earlier this year under the rotunda of the Missouri State Capitol. 

Jenna Ellis, a former Trump campaign attorney, also spoke alongside Lindell. Ellis this week was ordered to travel to Georgia to testify in front of a grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies’ roles in influencing the 2020 election.

“According to the leftist media, because I have a subpoena for one day, I can’t be here,” Ellis said. “Like I’m on house arrest or something.”

Steve Bannon, a former Trump political adviser who was recently convicted on charges of criminal contempt of Congress, was also present at the event Saturday morning, speaking in an interview with one of several right-wing TV outlets.

A southwest Missouri state lawmaker was also invited to the weekend conference — Rep. Ann Kelley, a Lamar Republican. Kelley also attended Lindell’s “cyber symposium” last year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and later testified in front of a House panel focused on elections. She told the News-Leader she came to the event to see if there was “anything new” in Lindell and his allies’ presentations.

Staff at the event were unable to immediately say how many people had been invited to Springfield for the weekend, or why the city and venue were chosen. A representative for the original venue listed on registration information sent to attendees, University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, declined to comment about the event when reached by phone on Friday afternoon. Attendees received an email directing them to the Expo Center earlier Friday.

Among the weekend’s listed programming are addresses from speakers in all 50 states, which is slated to run for seven hours, and an evening premiere of a movie about the 2020 election from Lara Logan, a former CBS News journalist who has now become popular among circles on the right who tout conspiracy theories about vaccinations, COVID-19 and election fraud.

More:Missouri Senate’s hard-right Conservative Caucus disbands following primary election

On Sunday, there will be a “trial of the machines,” which is described simply as “Mike Lindell puts the voting machines on trial.” Lindell will then issue a “call to action” on Sunday evening.

Galen Bacharier covers Missouri politics & government for the News-Leader. Contact him at gbacharier@news-leader.com, (573) 219-7440 or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

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