Phoenix (AFP) – Groups linked to eminent supporters of previous President Donald Trump’s movement to interrogate the outcome of the 2020 election raised more than $5.7 million to scrutinize Republican elections in Arizona, according to figures released late Wednesday.
Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the little-known company hired to lead the audit, ended months of silence about who was paying for it and how much it cost. Money from pro-Trump groups dwarfs the $150,000 contributed by the Arizona Senate, which commissioned an audit and hired a Cyber Ninja.
Among those leading fundraising groups is Michael Flynn, Trump’s previous national security adviser. Sidney Powell, his attorney who has brought a number of groundless lawsuits to challenge the election results; Patrick Byrne, previous CEO of Overstock.com; and reporters from the pro-Trump America News Network.
Republican Senate President Karen Fan says the scrutiny is only meant to see if improvements to state election laws are needed. But the scrutiny has lengthy been associated with the “Stop Theft” movement, and Trump predicted it would uncover evidence to support his discredited theories of fraud.
Prior to his appointment to lead the scrutiny, Logan promoted Trump’s incorrect narrative that the elections had been stolen from him, and the pro-Trump media vigorously encouraged these efforts.
By far the largest financier is The America Project, led by Byrne, which Logan said has so far contributed $3.25 million. America’s Future, which lists Flynn as its president, contributed just over $976,000. Voices and Voices, led by OANN reporters Christina Pope and Chanel Rion, contributed $605,000; Powell gave $550,000 for the defense of the republic. The Election Integrity Funds of the American Republic, which Logan said is headed by attorney Matthew DiPerno, contributed $280,000. DiPerno filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Antrim County, Michigan over the election.
Logan said that several groups “also provided operational support and pivotal advice in carrying out the audit.”
It is still not clear where these groups got their money from. They are organized as non-gain organizations and do not have to disclose donors.
Logan struggled to maintain the secrecy of the funders, although he admitted at the start of the audit that his $150,000 contract with the Senate would not cover the cost of the work he had been assigned to him by the Senate. He released numbers regarding the deadline for him to voluntarily comply with a request for information, including donor information, from the US House Oversight and Reform Committee. Several public records lawsuits are also seeking information from the Senate and Cyber Ninjas.
The disclosure of the fundraising came the alike day a key figure in the review said he intended to resign, then reversed course and said he had reached a deal to stay.
Former Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett, the unpaid Senate coordinator with Logan and audit contractors, was the only audit leader with significant election experience. His departure threatened to further erode the legitimacy of the unprecedented post-election partisan review.
Bennett was denied entry to the building where the review is taking place because he provided statements to outside election experts without informing the Senate leader or Logan. He said he wouldn’t put his name behind scrutiny without packed access.
“It’s the scrutiny that belongs to the people of Arizona, and if I’m going to put my credibility on the line that it’s something they can trust and believe in, I can’t shut down until the final minute,” Bennett said in an interview with cautious radio host James Harris on KFYI-AM.
Bennett later said in a text message that he had reached an agreement with Fan, the Senate president, to remain in the position but did not disclose details.
The review has been criticized by election experts who say Cyber Ninja and other contractors are biased and use unusual procedures that will not produce reliable results.
The county board of supervisors met privately on Wednesday to discuss a unused subpoena the Senate issued this week for election-related articles. Next, Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican, said the board “discussed various options with our legal counsel and will take the coming days to do our research.”