Politics Conspiracy Firm Behind Arizona Audit Defies Order to Release Behind-the-Scenes Texts
Fact check: No evidence 'lost votes' or 'ghost votes' affected Arizona's election outcome
Local elections officials, media outlets and experts say the report is flawed.But online, some conspiracy theorists are still claiming voter fraud helped put Biden in the White House.
Days before the long-delayed conclusion of an” of the 2020 election—one that conspiracy blogs trumpeted as the “MOST TRANSPARENT AUDIT EVER”—the conspiratorial group behind the effort is fighting a court order to turn over internal documents.
, an obscure Florida tech company with no prior elections experience, has been leading a chaotic review of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 presidential election since April. The months-long effort has been a fiasco both technically (auditors caused nearly $3 million in damage to voting machines and ) and politically (Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan was revealed to be an election truther who on voter fraud theories). In August, a judge ruled that Cyber Ninjas must turn over audit-related documents by mid-September, following a pair of public records lawsuits from the Arizona Republic and the transparency group American Oversight.
Fact check: MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell spreads false claim about Arizona election results
Certified election results, as well as several audits, show President Joe Biden won Arizona, contrary to Mike Lindell's claims.Ahead of an Aug. 11 "cyber symposium" in Sioux Falls, S.D., Mike Lindell promised data that would prove the election was stolen from Trump. But that data never came, and Josh Merritt, a "cyber expert" Lindell hired, told the Washington Times he'd seen no evidence to back up that claim.
But despite the judge, Cyber Ninjas has not complied, stating that it might release some documents after its audit report this week—and in some cases, maybe never at all.
Neither a spokesperson for Cyber Ninjas’ audit effort, nor the group’s attorney returned requests for comment on Wednesday regarding whether the group would release court-ordered documents.
In a letter to the court on Friday, the group’s lawyer, Jack Wilenchik, suggested Cyber Ninjas would turn over some documents, if it felt like it.
“I also emphasize that, while CNI [Cyber Ninjas, Inc.] intends to produce documents out of goodwill and its commitment to transparency, by sending this communication CNI does not concede the existence or scope of any involuntary legal obligation to do so,” Wilenchik’s letter read.
Opinion: What happened to trusting experts?
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer writes that as we've seen with the support for partisan election audits and disregard for the advice of public health officials, many no longer seem to care about expertise. Perhaps some of this is understandable because bureaucratic experts have failed the country and even lied on several occasions -- but regarding expertise, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, he writes.Expertise matters.
Wilenchick objected to the court order on two grounds: that Cyber Ninjas should not be subject to public records laws, and that Cyber Ninjas is too busy to release court-ordered records (which a judge ordered Cyber Ninjas to preserve in August).
A judge has repeatedly dismissed the first argument, stating that Cyber Ninjas has been hired by Arizona’s Republican-led Senate and is a “custodian” of public records, making it subject to public records laws.
As for Cyber Ninjas’ alleged time crunch, the group is no stranger to delays. The group was initially supposed to release its “audit” findings in mid-May. That deadline was delayed until later in the month, then again to August, when it was delayed again because. The group now says it will release its findings on Sept. 24.
Cyber Ninjas might have good reason for withholding internal documents, which include texts and emails about the audit.
Arizona Senate asks state attorney general for 'formal' investigation to bolster Maricopa election audit
The GOP-led Arizona Senate referred the findings of its 2020 election audit in Maricopa County to the state's attorney general.The contractors, led by Cyber Ninjas, confirmed President Joe Biden's victory over former President Donald Trump in a review of the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in the county. Still, a letter sent Friday to Arizona's top prosecutor outlines "urgent issues" the auditors found that Senate President Karen Fann said "suggest less-than-perfect adherence to Arizona's standards and best practices.
From its outset, the group has displayed hard partisan leanings, with members of the “audit” team promoting voter fraud conspiracy theories and claiming to check ballots for bamboo fibers, which they claimed would indicate that a ballot had been fraudulently shipped from China. Backers of the audit, like former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, have appeared to preview the audit’s findings even before the report’s release, with Byrnelast week that he thought the report would reveal that Donald Trump actually won Maricopa County. (Republican officials in Arizona and Maricopa County have verified President Joe Biden’s victory there.) Logan, meanwhile, , which was based on a book Byrne wrote and .
And those were Cyber Ninjas’ public statements. Behind the scenes, Logan was an even more active participant in pro-Trump conspiracy theories, promoting them on Twitter in late 2020. A new report by thethat Logan collaborated on voter fraud theories in late 2020 with Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Logan helped Powell write subpoenas in a bid to gain access to voting machines, the Republic reported.
Trump claims preliminary Maricopa County audit report 'far different' than final report
Former President Donald Trump on Friday reiterated allegations of widespread fraud in the Arizona general election last November, saying news outlets are "lying" about preliminary reports suggesting the long-anticipated Maricopa County audit will confirm President Joe Biden's victory in the county last year. © Provided by Washington Examiner Trump said he had reviewed the "huge findings in Arizona" detailing "undeniable evidence of FRAUD" in the county's general election, adding that the final report "is far different than that being reported by the Fake News Media" and calling on Arizona Attorney General Mark Brn
In his letter, Wilenchick indicated that Cyber Ninjas would not release its internal communications, which might yield some of the clearest insights into the group’s approach to the controversial review.
“As with CNI’s internal communications ... CNI’s private records concerning its own staﬀ are not public records,” he wrote.
Even since Wilenchick’s letter, Cyber Ninjas’ antics have driven a rift in Maricopa County’s politics. This week, a conspiracy site released audio of a Maricopa County commissioner speaking to a pro-audit group before the review began (and subsequently fell apart). In the recording, the commissioner blasted his colleagues for their skepticism about the audit.
The commissionerthis week after the recordings went public. In his resignation statement, he said he had subsequently become a target for conspiracy theories.
“The picture some individuals are trying to paint about a cover-up, scam and other nonsense about my colleagues and myself is simply false,” he wrote. “There was no cover-up, the election was not stolen. Biden won.”
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Pro-Trump Congressional Candidate Says 'Audit All 50 states' and 'Execute All Involved' .
Jarome Bell, running as an "America First" candidate in Virginia, made the statement after the Arizona audit results were announced.Republican Jarome Bell, who is running in Virginia's second congressional district, tweeted Friday, "Audit all 50 states. Arrest all involved. Try all involved. Convict all involved. Execute all involved. #MaricopaCountyFraud.