News Roundup: Behind the Voting Machine Breaches

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s ongoing investigation into 2020 election subversion is now focusing on voting machine breaches in four swing states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — according to reporting from CNN this week. 

American Oversight has been investigating efforts by activists in each of these states to overturn the election results, and the evidence we’ve uncovered has been helping to drive accountability. The new CNN report cited records we obtained that show these efforts involved election deniers from around the country — including Sidney Powell, whose nonprofit Defending the Republic has close ties to election-undermining efforts in Pennsylvania and Arizona. Powell has been identified as a co-conspirator in the DOJ’s indictment of Donald Trump, and she was charged in Fulton County, Georgia.

At the end of 2020, officials in Fulton County, Pa. — under threat of a subpoena from state Sen. Doug Mastriano — agreed to let the firm Wake TSI conduct a review of voting machines, mail-in ballots, and absentee ballots. 

  • A handwritten note on an agreement between Fulton County and Wake TSI indicated that the firm “is contracted to Defending the Republic a 501(c)4.”  
  • We sued Fulton County in January 2022 for records related to this review, and added Wake TSI as a defendant in the case earlier this year. 

Wake TSI later subcontracted with Cyber Ninjas to help conduct the sham “audit” of votes in Maricopa County, Ariz. 

  • American Oversight obtained numerous records providing details about Wake TSI’s role in the review, including a list of election deniers and conspiracy theorists retained by the firm to work on the “audit.” 
  • Defending the Republic made its mark in Arizona as well, donating $550,000 to the “audit” effort. We obtained a record of a $22,000 payment from Powell to Cyber Ninjas made in December 2021. 

CNN also reported that Smith’s office interviewed a former employee of Pennsylvania fake elector Bill Bachenberg, who was involved in the Arizona “audit.” 

  • In a September 2021 email containing a summary of Cyber Ninjas’ final report, Bachenberg wrote that “PA will be one of the next domino’s [sic] to fall,” employing language frequently used by election conspiracy theorists.
  • Bachenberg was also copied on a July 2021 email thread that included Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, Chris Witt of Wake TSI, and others about contract and payment disputes, suggesting that he played a significant role in the operation. 

CNN’s story also discusses attorney Stefanie Lambert, who in August was charged in Michigan for her alleged role in voting equipment breaches there.

  • We obtained text messages from early 2021 in which Doug Logan discusses the scheme with Lambert.

We’ve uncovered thousands of pages of additional records detailing the coordinated scheme to reverse the 2020 election results and keep Trump in office illegally. See what we uncovered about the various co-conspirators and co-defendants in the federal and Georgia prosecutions here

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • Wisconsin voters caught in the middle as misinformation takes on education (The Guardian)
  • Arizona GOP rejects single-day vote proposal, angering election deniers (Washington Post
  • A new antidemocracy tool (Brennan Center)
Voting Rights
  • Georgia redistricting trial opens with debate over federal requirements for Black representation (Georgia Recorder)
  • ‘Crooked Coffee’: The alleged election office breach in the Trump indictment was part of a years-long pattern, some locals say (CNN)
  • Alabama congressional map struck down again for diluting Black voting power (Washington Post)
  • Florida judge strikes down DeSantis-backed voting map as unconstitutional (Guardian)
  • Ohio Supreme Court dismisses challenges to GOP-drawn map ruled unconstitutional (Washington Post)
In the States
  • Ken Paxton impeachment trial begins with sniping: “Slow creep of corruption” vs. “nothing of significance” (Texas Tribune
  • Texas AG Ken Paxton repeatedly refuses to represent state agencies, documents reveal (ProPublica)
  • Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich appointed to Florida Commission on Ethics (Florida Today)
  • Disney wants to narrow the scope of its lawsuit against DeSantis to free speech claim (Associated Press)
  • Montana ethics office accuses attorney general of violating professional conduct rules (Montana Free Press
LGBTQ Rights
  • GOP lawmakers take aim at LGBTQ+ ‘safe places’ program in small Florida town (Associated Press)
  • Miami-Dade votes against proposal to recognize LGBTQ History Month in schools (NBC Miami)
  • N.C.’s new anti-trans laws sow confusion around gender-affirming care (Washington Post)  
  • Georgia can resume enforcing ban on hormone therapy for trans youths, judge says (NBC News)
  • Judge allows Georgia ban on gender-affirming care access — here are the other trans health restrictions facing court battles (Forbes)
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • Abortions rose in most states this year, new data shows (New York Times)
  • Texas records just 17 abortions in four months in likely vast undercount (Guardian)
  • As abortion laws drive obstetricians from red states, maternity care suffers (New York Times)
  • Indiana’s near-total abortion ban leads doctors out-of-state for training (Louisville Public Media
  • Kansas awards $2 million unplanned-pregnancy contract to group moored in anti-abortion politics (Kansas Reflector)
  • An Ohio ballot measure seeks to protect abortion access. Opponents’ messaging is on parental rights (Associated Press)
  • Arkansas Secretary of State seeks design submissions for anti-abortion monument at Capitol (Arkansas Advocate)
  • The Texas bans on abortion “trafficking” are scarier than they sound (Slate)
  • New ordinances would ban driving through cities and counties en route to abortion care (ABC 13)
  • Crowdfunding saves Florida abortion clinic with $193,000 in fines (Washington Post)
  • Florida Supreme Court to hear challenge to 15-week abortion ban (ABC News)
  • Mexico decriminalizes abortion, extending Latin American trend of widening access (NPR)
Threats to Education
  • Florida officials wanted AP African American Studies class to look on the bright side, internal documents reveal (Arkansas Times
  • Florida universities set to approve classical test, an SAT alternative (New York Times)
  • After Jacksonville shooting, some Floridians see connections between state’s education laws and anti-Black racism (19th News)
  • Oklahoma State Department of Education partners with PragerU Kids (KOCO News)
  • Conservative book ban push fuels library exodus from national association that stands up for books (Associated Press)
  • Diversity at Texas A&M is under fire. A ‘DEI’ ban may escalate tensions (Washington Post
  • Texas’ political environment driving faculty to leave, survey finds (Texas Tribune)
  • Missouri advances social-emotional learning standards for students (Fox 2)
Civil Rights
  • 61 indicted in Georgia on racketeering charges connected to ‘Stop Cop City’ movement (Associated Press)
  • Erasing the “Black spot”: How a Virginia college expanded by uprooting a Black neighborhood (ProPublica)
  • DOJ finds poor care at New Jersey state-run veterans homes during pandemic violated Constitution (Politico)
Government Transparency and Public Records Law
  • New Jersey’s public records law is a ‘sword and shield’ against corruption, citizens say (New Jersey Monitor)
  • New Oregon legislation could increase accountability in public meetings (Jefferson Public Radio)
  • Above the law: Sheriffs largely silent on sovereign group’s meeting (Smoky Mountain News)
  • Pennsylvania removes email database of public employees (Spotlight PA)
  • Federal judge orders Texas to remove floating border barrier. Abbott immediately appeals the ruling (Texas Tribune)
  • Revealed: how US immigration uses fake social media profiles across investigations (The Guardian)
  • 12th bus carrying migrants from Texas arrives in Los Angeles (CBS News
  • As migrants continue to arrive in D.C. concerns remain about capacity (Washington Post)
Trump Accountability
  • A lawsuit seeks to bar Trump from the primary in Colorado, citing Constitution’s insurrection clause (Associated Press)
  • Georgia prosecutor accuses Jim Jordan of trying to ‘obstruct’ Trump case (Washington Post)
  • Trump lawyers evoke 1931 trial of ‘Scottsboro boys’ in election case (Washington Post)
  • The Giuliani aide who ‘vanished’ (Politico)
  • Michael Gableman due to testify in defense of Trump attorney John Eastman (Wisconsin State Journal)
Jan. 6 Investigations (DOJ/Fulton-Georgia)
  • Georgia judge to consider Trump co-defendants’ requests to sever their cases (NBC News)
  • All defendants in Georgia racketeering case, including Trump, have pleaded not guilty (NPR)
  • Fani Willis lays out criminal case against false electors (Politico)
  • Court undoes ruling allowing DOJ access to Scott Perry’s phone (Washington Post)  
  • Trump White House official Navarro convicted of contempt after defying House Jan. 6 subpoena (Associated Press)