Why we don’t really know who is paying for Arizona’s bizarre election audit


More than a month after the bizarre process began, it’s still unclear who is funding the recount of the 2020 election results in Arizona’s Maricopa County, even the Republican lawmakers behind the controversial effort are unable to answer questions. on hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed private donations. .


The Republican-controlled Senate – which initiated the recount in Arizona’s largest county based on former President Donald Trump’s false allegations of electoral fraud – contributed $ 150,000, an amount that should not cover that part of the cost of manually checking 2.1 million ballots.

“We pay part of the security and the cost of the Colosseum [where the ballots are being checked]», Karen Fann, President of the Arizona Senate Told CNN Monday, adding that “anything extra is covered by others” and that she “doesn’t know who they are”.

Although Arizona law requires public bodies to disclose and account for any public or private funding received, these regulations were bypassed in the audit, as the fundraising money is sent directly to Cyber ​​Ninjas, the consultancy firm based in Florida who leads the vote analysis.

Several Trump-related figures who previously pushed his electoral fraud plots have either promoted or claim to have contributed to major fundraisers for the audit.

Former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne has raised over $ 1.7 million of a goal of $ 2.8 million via a website created by his nonprofit, The America Project, which did not answer questions from Forbes on how the money is used.

Other fundraisers include pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood, who complaints for donating $ 50,000 of her own money to the effort, and One America News reporters Christina Bobb and Chanel Rion, who run a website for donations called Voices and Votes.

Chief critic

“There are people who are making a lot of money on this – and unfortunately it comes at the cost of our elections,” Steven Slugocki, former Democratic Party chairman Maricopa during the 2020 elections, Told ABC News in a recent interview. “They’re looking for ways to involve people who believe this election was stolen, and they’re fundraising for it.”

Crucial quote

Ken Bennett, Arizona Senate Audit Liaison Officer mentionned Private funding is relied on “to save taxpayers’ money, not to hide where the funding comes from,” arguing that sources of funding do not affect the work of the audit. He said it was up to Cyber ​​Ninjas to disclose how much funds he received and from where, although the company did not respond to questions from several news outlets, including Forbes, on the subject.

Surprising fact

Although Bennett has sought to highlight the Senate’s separation from private fundraising efforts, an official Twitter account maintained by the legislature last month tweeted a link to Byrne’s fundraising website, urging subscribers to “join the tens of thousands of Americans who are helping fund this audit.” Asked about the tweet by Central Arizona, Bennett mentionned he should not have been promoted on the Senate Twitter thread. The tweet has not been deleted since.

Key context

Cyber ​​Ninjas has no electoral experience, and company CEO Doug Logan has propagated the completely debunked conspiracy theory that a company linked to late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez rigged voting machines against Trump during the election. . Stretching into its second month this week, the bizarre audit has already presented a large number of errors on the part of the company – leading to a Warning Justice Department of a potential violation of federal laws – and reading increasingly bizarre conspiracy theories, such as the scanning of bamboo fiber ballots, which is believed to be proof that ‘they were planted by China to reverse Biden’s election. Local election officials have condemned the recount, deeming it detrimental to democracy. Two previous publicly funded audits of Maricopa County have found no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the state. which Trump lost by the narrow margin of 10,457 votes.

Further reading

“QAnon’s ‘Domino Theory’ Explained: Here Is The Weird Scenario Trump Redeemed By Auditing Arizona – And Back To The White House” (Forbes)

“In bizarre Arizona election audit, ballots are checked for bamboo and election chief received protection” (Forbes)

“The Exclusive Story of the Fall of the Mad King of Overstock, Patrick Byrne” (Forbes)

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