On Wednesday, American Oversight sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Senate highlighting significant inconsistencies in sworn testimony provided by Fulton County Commissioner Stuart Ulsh during a recent hearing regarding the 2020 election.
On Sept. 8, the state Senate’s Republican-led Intergovernmental Operations Committee kicked off its partisan investigation into the 2020 election with a hearing, during which Ulsh was the sole witness. Ulsh discussed an audit of Fulton County election equipment and ballot materials that was conducted in late December 2020 by Wake Technology Services Inc., a firm with reported ties to former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell.
During the hearing, Ulsh denied being aware of state Sen. Doug Mastriano’s involvement with the Wake TSI review, suggested that the review was voluntary, and stated that all three Fulton County commissioners had agreed to it. However, documents produced to American Oversight in response to public records requests raise concerns about the accuracy of these statements.
“Before the investigation happened, I had no conversation with Doug Mastriano about any of it,” Ulsh stated to the committee. “I didn’t know he was even involved with it.” Ulsh also suggested in his testimony the review was voluntary: “[State Sen. Judy Ward] just asked me if I would … be interested or if I had any thoughts of doing an investigation of our election.”
However, on Dec. 31, 2020, the day of the audit, Ulsh, along with Commissioners Randy Bunch and Paula Shives, received a message from Fulton County Elections Director Patti Hess that throws into question the accuracy of those claims. Hess’s text message contained a screenshot of a document with Wake TSI’s logo on the letterhead and said, “Sent by Senator Mastriano all counties are to do this or be subpoena[ed] to prove votes.”
Later in the same exchange, Ulsh reiterated, “it was happening this way or in a subpoena.”
Other text messages also raise concerns about the claim that all three Fulton County commissioners agreed to the review. During the Sept. 8 hearing, Ulsh said he “made the remark [to Sen. Ward] that I wouldn’t make any decisions without having [the investigation] brought up in our … commissioners’ meeting.” After Sen. Steven Santarsiero asked whether this meant having a conversation with both the other commissioners, Ulsh said, “Yes.”
But the text messages obtained by American Oversight confirm earlier reporting by the Washington Post that the review in Fulton County had taken place without the knowledge of the county’s only Democratic commissioner, Shives. In the text messages, exchanged by the commissioners and the elections director on Dec. 31, Shives expressed frustration at having been shut out from the review and at its lack of formal approval. “Who authorized this?” Shives asked. “Why wasn’t I notified?”
These apparent discrepancies between the account provided by Ulsh in his sworn testimony on Sept. 8 and the facts reflected in the text messages obtained by American Oversight raise significant questions about the accuracy of Ulsh’s statements. In its letter, American Oversight called on the committee to evaluate these discrepancies and determine appropriate next steps.
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