Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday announced plans to probe the private company behind the conspiracy theory-driven “audit” of 2020 election results in Maricopa County, Arizona, saying that they have concerns that the “highly unusual effort” is meant to undermine faith in the nation’s election system.
The investigation will target Cyber Ninjas, the private company Arizona state Senate Republicans contracted to run an election review that has drawn the ire of everyone from Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state to the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County board of supervisors.
“The Committee is seeking to determine whether the privately funded audit conducted by your company in Arizona protects the right to vote or is instead an effort to promote baseless conspiracy theories, undermine confidence in America’s elections, and reverse the result of a free and fair election for partisan gain,” Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to Cyber Ninjas CEO Douglas Logan on Wednesday.
Maloney chairs the House Oversight Committee. Raskin is the head of its Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Arizona Senate Republicans, fuming from President Joe Biden’s victory in the state in November’s election, authorized the so-called audit early this year, as the GOP nationwide bought into lies and conspiracy theories about election interference and voter fraud spread by former President Donald Trump after his loss. Legitimate election audits conducted across the country have found no evidence of widespread fraud; neither did hand recounts and examinations of ballots in Maricopa County or elsewhere in Arizona.
Logan, the Cyber Ninjas CEO, tweeted that an audit of Arizona’s election would unearth 200,000 new votes for Trump even before the current effort began, and has expressed support for the “Stop the Steal” movement that alleged the election was fraudulent. Logan also provided the voiceover for a recently released film that recycles all of the same election-related conspiracy theories.
The Arizona review, which many independent election observers refuse to refer to as an actual “audit,” has been rife with problems since it began in April, with observers alleging that it has violated the most basic standards of typical audits. Cyber Ninjas, which is based in Florida, has no prior experience conducting an election review, and alleged problems with this one range from its breaking basic ballot security protocols to its potential compromising of Maricopa County’s electronic voting machines, which could cost taxpayers millions of dollars to replace.
The House investigation will probe those issues and others, including the opaque source of funding for the audit, Maloney and Raskin said in the letter to Logan.
“The Committee is deeply troubled by Cyber Ninjas’ lack of election audit experience; its reported mismanagement of the audit in Maricopa County, which may have compromised ballots and election equipment; your own bias and history of embracing conspiracy theories related to the election; and the private sources of funding that may have further undermined the credibility and impartiality of this effort,” Maloney and Raskin wrote.
The committee requested that Cyber Ninjas provide it with documents detailing its past business deals and its current arrangement with Arizona state Senate Republicans, as well as any record of post-election communications between the company and Trump, any Trump administration or campaign official, and members of Trump’s various legal teams, including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell or Michael Flynn.
The committee also requested specific evidence the company may have about any of the numerous versions of “fraud” it has claimed to unearth or suspect, including the presence of bamboo paper ballots or the involvement of CIA agents in carrying out a massive fraud scheme.
Cyber Ninjas has not released the results of its review yet, although Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann (R) said Tuesday that its numbers “do not match with Maricopa County at this point.”
But the company’s inability to meet any of its own reporting deadlines is yet another reason why Maloney and Raskin believe the congressional probe is necessary.
“Cyber Ninjas has repeatedly failed to meet its own timeline for the audit and has repeatedly moved election materials — at one point to accommodate high school graduation ceremonies — raising questions about the integrity of the process and whether Cyber Ninjas is merely searching for evidence to support a predetermined result rather than conducting an impartial audit,” the lawmakers wrote.
The Department of Justice warned Arizona Republicans in early May that the audit may violate federal election laws that require ballots to remain in the custody of state and local election officials. The department also expressed concerns that Cyber Ninjas’ plans to conduct door-to-door canvassing to verify voter identities could run afoul of federal laws prohibiting voter intimidation. Arizona Senate Republicans responded by suspending plans to canvass the county.
Cyber Ninjas did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the investigation.
Rampant allegations that the Cyber Ninjas audit was a witch hunt that would only further erode faith in the American election system inspired the congressional probe, but they have not turned off Republicans from other states seeking to export similar audits to their own elections. GOP lawmakers from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and other states have visited the audit site in Phoenix, and many of them are currently pushing GOP state legislatures to mimic the process.
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