We’ve written frequently about the consequences of the array of “voter fraud” investigations and election “audits”: mistrust of elections, pretenses for voter restrictions, threats against election workers, and the likelihood of future attempts to overturn an election.
There is another cost of course, albeit potentially less damaging to our democracy, and that’s the actual financial cost of these partisan election reviews.
This week, in our lawsuit for record from the bogus “audit” in Arizona’s Maricopa County, the state Senate released documents that had been held by former Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan. The records contain a number of subcontract agreements from May and June 2021 that reveal senior leaders knew early on that the costs of the effort would far exceed the $150,000 in public funding originally authorized by the Senate.
- The records also reveal new information about the work of prominent election conspiracy theorists in the election review, as well as of paid employees with ties to the Trump campaign or to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
- Previously, we obtained documents showing that the cost to lead contractor Cyber Ninjas had skyrocketed to $9 million by November, even more than the millions that had been raised through private fundraising.
- This week, we also published records that provide more details about the high cost of security contractors hired to guard the operation — including an invoice indicating that in February, the Senate still owed more than $370,000 to those contractors.
But more records from the “audit” are still being withheld from the public. On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court heard oral arguments in our lawsuit for records, specifically regarding the Senate’s overly broad claim of legislative privilege to conceal documents.
Our lawsuits for records from the partisan investigation in Wisconsin are also still ongoing. In fact, this week, State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that the investigation led by Michael Gableman would be paused while they fight our lawsuits and others.
- But Gableman’s contract has meanwhile been extended indefinitely, and he will now be getting a monthly salary of $5,500 a month instead of $11,000, plus $2,500 for rent.
- Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would no longer require Gableman to reimburse travel expenses he had billed to the taxpayers for trips to visit the Arizona “audit” and to attend election denier Mike Lindell’s voter fraud “symposium” last summer.
- American Oversight had uncovered those expenses late last year; following the revelations, Vos’ office had said the costs would be recouped. But according to the Journal Sentinel, “Vos … had ultimately decided to let Gableman keep” the money.
- The investigation’s overall budget is $676,000, which Vos said will not increase. Documents released this spring revealed that the state had already spent about $500,000 of that.
- Read more of our previous reporting on the investigation’s expenses here and here.
The Jan. 6 Investigation
This week also brought a glaring example of how elected officials in various states were a key part of the Trump team’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. On Tuesday, the Denver Post reported that Trump-allied lawyer John Eastman had in December 2020 advised a Pennsylvania lawmaker to throw out tens of thousands of absentee votes, which he said “would help provide some cover” to switch the state’s electors from Joe Biden to Donald Trump.
- Eastman, of course, would later advocate for former Vice President Pence to unilaterally throw out the electoral slates from Pennsylvania and other Biden-voting swing states.
The House committee investigating Jan. 6 on Thursday issued subpoenas for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other members of Congress. Chairman Bennie Thompson said that the committee had “learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it.”
- Politico took a look at how House investigators have gotten around the stonewalling of Trump’s top aides: by talking to those aides’ deputies and assistants.
Here are other stories related to the investigation into the plot to overturn the 2020 vote:
- Oath Keepers sharing with Jan. 6 investigators their efforts to find election fraud, communications with Trump allies (CNN)
- Multiple fake electors cooperating in Georgia criminal probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn 2020 election (CNN)
- Audio of Sen. Lindsey Graham: Pres. Biden ‘best person to have’ after Jan. 6 (CNN)
The Coronavirus Pandemic
Many continue to process the gravity of 1 million U.S. deaths from Covid-19, a figure that seemed close to impossible at the start of the pandemic when 200,000 deaths was a pessimistic prediction. The majority of deaths have been of individuals older than 65, but the virus is still deadly for younger people — in 2021, it was the leading cause of death for those ages 45 to 54.
- The meatpacking industry pushed baseless claims of meat shortages to convince the Trump administration to keep plants open in the early months of the pandemic, despite the risks that led to outbreaks and more than 260 deaths of workers.
- Emergent BioSolutions, a government contractor hired to produce vaccine doses, destroyed 400 million doses as a result of quality control issues that it attempted to hide from the government.
With vaccines and better treatment available, fewer people who contract the virus are dying as a result of it. But without adequate funding, the government has warned that vaccines to fight off potential fall variants won’t be available except for those at highest risk. A plan to encourage all adults to get second booster shots by September would also require more funds, according to budget documents obtained by STAT News. Cases are still increasing and hospitalizations are at a daily average of over 19,000.
On the Records
Other records we obtained from the Arizona “audit” showed that Shiva Ayyadurai, the election denier and CEO of EchoMail, was paid by the state Senate to analyze the work of election conspiracy theorist Jovan Pulitzer — work he labeled as “utter rubbish.”
- According to the documents, which were reported on by the Arizona Mirror, Ayyadurai charged $2,500 for his review of Pulitzer’s report on counterfeit ballots, which he said was “filled with blatant prevarications that demand either a full blown criminal investigation of fraud … or at minimum complete disassociation from [the author].”
Other Stories We’re Following
Election Investigations and the Big Lie
- Trump allies, RNC officials set for ‘election integrity’ summit in Detroit (Detroit News)
- Michael Gableman backs away from talk of election decertification, Republican leaders say (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- Michigan State Police expands 2020 election equipment probe into Barry County (Michigan Advance)
- Judge bars indicted official Tina Peters from overseeing 2022 elections (Washington Post)
- Georgia county under scrutiny after claim of post-election breach (Washington Post)
- ‘I’d like to file lawsuits in all 50 states’: Mike Lindell still pushing Trump’s lie (Guardian)
- U.S. baby formula shortage leaves parents scrambling (Washington Post)
- Senate Democrats’ bill to keep abortion legal nationwide falls to GOP-led filibuster (NBC News)
- Prosecutors pursue inquiry into Trump’s handling of classified material (New York Times)
- Earth given 50/50 chance of hitting key warming mark by 2026 (Associated Press)
- Elon Musk says he would reverse Twitter ban on Donald Trump (Washington Post)
- Election officials in Arizona, other battleground states, stand up against restrictive voting laws (AZ Mirror)
- NLRB finds merit in union accusations against Amazon and Starbucks (New York Times)
- Judge lifts contempt order against Trump in civil inquiry (New York Times)
- Migrant families separated under Trump face elusive quests for reparations under Biden (CBS News)
- Report catalogs abuse of Native American children at former government schools (New York Times)
In the States
- Appellate court confirms DeSantis-backed voting law in Florida (Washington Post)
- Mississippi governor doesn’t rule out banning contraception if Roe fails (Washington Post)
- In Texas, abortion laws inhibit care for miscarriages (NPR)
- Texas governor ready to challenge schooling of migrant children (New York Times)
- Court lets Texas restrictions on social platform content moderation take effect (The Verge)
- Youngkin’s ‘almighty creator’ rhetoric in new diversity training offends some state employees (Virginia Mercury)
- Florida judge blocks DeSantis’ congressional redistricting effort (Politico)
- Katrina survivors were told they could use grant money to rebuild. Now they’re being sued for it. (ProPublica)
- The swift march of climate change in North Carolina’s ‘ghost forests’ (Washington Post)
- Ohio lawmaker proposed $300m handout to nursing homes; then raised $52,000 from their liaisons (Ohio Capital Journal)