Category Archives: fraudulent fraud squad

“Here’s how protected election system blueprints are making their way into far-right circles”

LA Times:

On the third day of the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month, two men delivered on experts’ biggest concerns about attempts to access election machines after the 2020 election.

Using copies of election software — improperly removed from multiple counties — that has been circulating among election deniers, they presented an unfounded narrative that they had discovered evidence of fraud and foreign interference. They also discussed their goal to secure jobs as election officers and build a team of computer experts to access elections systems in more than 60 counties in order to prove their theories.

“This is exactly the situation that I have warned about,” said election technology expert Kevin Skoglund, a senior technical advisor at the National Election Defense Coalition. “Having the software out there allows people to make wild claims about it. It creates disinformation that we have to watch out for and tamp down.”

Skoglund is among the election security experts concerned that bad actors are using the time between the 2020 and 2024 elections to study election systems and software in order to produce disinformation during the next presidential election, such as fake evidence of fraud or questionable results.

Described as an election integrity presentation, the event wasn’t on the official CPAC agenda or sanctioned by the organization, but took place in a guest room at a nearby hotel. Some CPAC sponsors hold their own sessions, which are planned and produced by them and not CPAC.

Only a small number of people attended the event in person. At least 2,800 people watched live online through a far-right broadcast, according to that show’s host. That broadcast included commentary from election deniers before and after the presentation.

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“Trump-commissioned report undercut his claims of dead and double voters”


When Donald Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, in a now-infamous bid to overturn the 2020 election, he alleged that thousands of dead people had voted in the state.

“So dead people voted, and I think the number is close to 5,000 people. And they went to obituaries. They went to all sorts of methods to come up with an accurate number, and a minimum is close to about 5,000 voters,” he said, without citing his study.

But a report commissioned by his own campaign dated one day prior told a different story: Researchers paid by Trump’s team had “high confidence” of only nine dead voters in Fulton County, defined as ballots that may have been cast by someone else in the name of a deceased person. They believed there was a “potential statewide exposure” of 23 such votes across the Peach State — or 4,977 fewer than the “minimum” Trump claimed.

In a separate failed bid to overturn the results in Nevada, Trump’s lawyers said in a court filing that 1,506 ballots were cast in the names of dead people and 42,284 voted twice. Trump lost the Silver State by about 33,000 votes.

The researchers paid by Trump’s team had “high confidence” that 12 ballots were cast in the names of deceased people in Clark County, Nev., and believed the “high end potential exposure” was 20 voters statewide — some 1,486 fewer than Trump’s lawyers said.

According to their research, the “low end potential exposure” of double voters was 45, while the “high end potential exposure” was 9,063. The judge tossed the Nevada case even as Trump continued to claim he won the state.

The “Project 2020” report conducted by the Berkeley Research Group has now been obtained by prosecutors investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. A copy was reviewed by The Washington Post, and it shows that Trump’s own campaign paid more than $600,000 for research that undercut many of his most explosive claims. The research was never made public.

The Justice Department has sought and obtained multiple reports, emails and interviews from witnesses that show campaign officials analyzing, and often discrediting, claims that Trump was making publicly, according to several people involved in the investigation, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal details. The Berkeley report was provided to the Justice Department earlier this month, one of the people said, after some people involved in its crafting received a subpoena.

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The Continued Disappointing Path of Frank LaRose: “Ohio becomes latest Republican state to leave a key voting data partnership”


Ohio on Friday announced it was the latest Republican-led state to pull out of a key election partnership that has become the focal point of conspiracies on the far-right.

The Ohio secretary of state, Frank LaRose — a Republican who is widely considered to be eyeing a run for U.S. Senate in 2024 — sent a letter to the executive director of the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, announcing the decision soon after the bipartisan compact’s member states held a meeting Friday.

“ERIC has chosen repeatedly to ignore demands to embrace reforms that would bolster confidence in its performance, encourage growth in its membership, and ensure not only its present stability but also its durability,” LaRose wrote. “Rather, you have chosen to double-down on poor strategic decisions, which have only resulted in the transformation of a previously bipartisan organization to one that appears to favor only the interests of one political party.”ERIC is a multi-state partnership that experts across the political spectrum say is the only reliable, secure way for states to share voter data with each other. The coalition allows states to know when voters move or die, so they can keep their lists of registered voters more up to date.

Just last month, in an interview with NPR, LaRose called ERIC “one of the best tools that we have for maintaining the accuracy of our voter files.”

But beginning last year, far-right media began to target the organization, arguing that it was actually a way Democrats were rigging elections in their favor.

The groundswell continued, and Ohio and other Republican states began pushing for changes to ERIC’s membership agreement and bylaws, to lessen what member states would be required to do. One key desire was to no longer be required to reach out to eligible but unregistered voters, as ERIC’s current governing documents mandate.

LaRose in his letter Friday reiterated his desire to permit “member states to utilize ERIC’s data-sharing services ‘a la carte,’ in the manner which they believe best serves their local interests.”

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“At center of Fox News lawsuit, Sidney Powell and a ‘wackadoodle’ email”


It was the first of a dozen appearances Powell would make on Fox programs over the next month in which she helped inject far-fetched and debunked claims of widespread fraud into the mainstream — and which are now at the heart of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, court documents show.

These appearances helped elevate a once-obscure lawyer to a marquee player in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election — and helped keep her claims of fraud on the forefront for millions of loyal Fox viewers, including Trump himself. Powell would continue to appear on Fox for weeks after Dominion protested that it had been unfairly smeared, and as Fox News executives privately agonized that these on-air falsehoods created a problem for the network, according to newly released internal communications and testimony.

She would even appear on Fox programs after a Fox Corp. senior vice president said he had privately begged the White House to disavow Powell.

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“FBI says it has no records related to Trump’s claim he ‘sent’ agents to stop voter fraud in Florida during 2018 election”

NBC News:

The FBI has said it can find no records related to former President Donald Trump’s assertions in November that he “sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys” to stop “ballot theft” in Florida during the 2018 election.

In a letter dated March 6 and received this week by NBC News, the FBI wrote that it had searched its Central Records System but was “unable to identify records” in response to a reporter’s Freedom of Information Act request seeking any records related to Trump’s claims.

The FOIA request was submitted a day after Trump on Nov. 10 described how he delivered a 2018 election win to now-Gov. Ron DeSantis by having the FBI intervene to stop election fraud in Broward County.

Trump issued the statement at a time when DeSantis, a Republican and potential presidential candidate, was garnering praise from right-leaning media for his resounding re-election victory last year.

“[A]fter the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen,” Trump said on his social media platform, Truth Social.

Trump’s claims, which he did not support with any evidence, raised serious questions about whether he used the power of the presidency to order federal agents to intervene in an election. The bar for the FBI to get involved in election tabulation is exceedingly high, with strict guidelines prohibiting its presence inside voting locations.

In the immediate wake of Trump’s statement, the FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment, but a former official later indicated on Twitter that Trump’s account was fabricated.

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“GOP election deniers increasingly admit they’re just going off vibes”

Aaron Blake for WaPo:

Sidney Powell has tacitly conceded that she didn’t have the proof of a stolen election that she claimed. Former Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis has now explicitly acknowledged that.

And it turns out the GOP base as a whole is increasingly admitting it to themselves — that its continued belief in a stolen election is largely just about vibes.

new CNN poll shows the false belief that President Biden’s 2020 win over Donald Trump was illegitimate remains strong among Republicans and GOP-leaning voters; 63 percent continue to say that, while 37 percent acknowledge Biden’s legitimate victory.

But as this question has been asked over time, something notable has happened: These voters have increasingly acknowledged there is no “solid evidence” for their belief.

Shortly after such beliefs led to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, 71 percent of Republican-leaning voters told CNN’s pollsters that Biden’s win was illegitimate — slightly higher than today.

But at the time, three-quarters of them also said they believed there was “solid evidence” for that. Today, only about half say so, while fully 48 percent of 2020 election deniers acknowledge their belief in a stolen election is “suspicion only.”

All told, back in January 2021, a majority of Republican-leaning voters (54 percent) said they believed that the election was stolen and that there was solid evidence. Today, that’s fallen to just 33 percent.

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“Colorado GOP selects combative, election-denying new leader”


The Colorado Republican Party on Saturday selected a combative former state representative who promised to be a “wartime” leader as its new chairman, joining several other state GOPs this year that have elected far-right figures and election conspiracy theorists to their top posts.

The move in Colorado comes as the party totters on the brink of political irrelevance in a state moving swiftly to the left.

Former State Rep. Dave Williams, who unsuccessfully tried to insert the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” into his name on the party’s primary ballot last year and insists — incorrectly — that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, was selected by the party’s executive committee out of a seven-person field.

Williams crossed the required 50% threshold on the third ballot after being endorsed by one of his competitors, indicted former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who had failed to surpass 10%. Peters faces seven felony charges for her alleged role in illegally accessing voting machines in her county. She has denied the allegations while becoming a prominent national figure in the election conspiracy movement.

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“Meet the ‘Ghost’ Woman Fox Relied on for Voter Fraud Claims”

Daily Beast:

A voting machine company’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News has rocked the conservative media giant, exposing rifts between its journalists and the star hosts and executives more concerned with mollifying pro-Trump viewers than accurately reporting that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen.

But the strangest revelation so far from the Dominion Voting Systems case against the cable channel may be the alleged source of the voter-fraud claims that sparked the lawsuit: a single email from a previously unknown woman who was convinced, among other things, that late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered while being hunted for sport.

That unhinged email to Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell has now become a centerpiece of Dominion’s case, raising questions about how Fox could allow obviously fake claims from a total stranger with no credentials to make it on the air.

Even Maria Bartiromo, the Fox host whose show first aired the claims, admitted in a deposition that the email was ridiculous.

“It’s kooky, absolutely,” Bartiromo said.

But the ideas’ origin is even more “kooky” than Bartiromo might realize. In an interview with The Daily Beast, the woman behind that email—a Minnesota artist named Marlene Bourne—said that she based her now nationally prominent ideas about election fraud on a wide variety of sources, including hidden messages she detects in films, song lyrics she hears on the radio, and overheard conversations she hears while in line at the supermarket checkout.

“Yeah, I’m crazy,” Bourne told The Daily Beast. “Crazy like a fox.”

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“Document obtained by Issue One reveals new financial information about nonprofit peddling election conspiracies”

Michael Beckel:

A nonprofit launched by several prominent election deniers just a few months after the January 6th attack on our democracy raised $7.7 million in 2021, with much of the money coming from anonymous wealthy donors, according to a recently filed tax return obtained by Issue One.

During the same period of time, the group — known as The America Project — spent $7.4 million, mostly advancing false claims about the 2020 elections, including paying millions of dollars to the Cyber Ninjas firm involved in the conspiracy-laden partisan review of ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona.

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“Right-Wing Task Force Will Police Elections in the Texas GOP’s Last Urban Stronghold”


As Tarrant County’s Republican Sheriff Bill Waybourn explained his plan to increase the policing of local elections, he tried to reassure anyone worried about his fealty to former President Donald Trump or alarmed by the election-denying wing of his party.

“I’m not a conspiracy [theorist]. I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president, and I believe Joe Biden is the president—I believe all that,” the famously right-wing sheriff told county commissioners at their Feb. 21 meeting. “But I do know that there are people who are concerned, and they have a concern, and it’s a legitimate concern.” 

Waybourn launched the new Election Integrity Task Force “to investigate and prosecute individuals perpetrating voter fraud within Tarrant County” last month in coordination with newly-elected District Attorney Phil Sorrells and Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare, both of whom promised to ratchet up policing of elections when campaigning with Trump’s endorsement last year. In his presentation to county commissioners, Waybourn said the task force, which will solicit and investigate complaints about elections, would be staffed with existing county employees, including two sheriff’s investigators, two DA’s investigators and one prosecutor. 

“The whole idea of the DA and sheriff standing together, I think it’s a very important message to the community, and I think it’s a very important message that we’re centralizing that,” the sheriff told commissioners. “I think it’s a very important message that this is being handled by professional investigators and professional prosecutors.”

Roy Brooks, one of the two Democrats on the five-member commission, told Waybourn “there is no demonstrable issue with election integrity in Tarrant County.” Brooks spoke slowly but sternly as he told the sheriff, “I am concerned that we are enshrining in our current county infrastructure the ability to deny the results of any election that the three of you (Waybourn, Sorrells, and O’Hare) take exception to.” 

When Brooks called the task force a “conspiracy” to undermine election results that local conservatives don’t like, he drew audible gasps and jeers from the more than a dozen people in the crowd who had signed up to testify in support of the sheriff’s idea.

The meeting followed years of conservative activists in North Texas spreading baseless conspiracies about widespread voter fraud. As Bolts reported last year, Republican lies about the 2020 election have emboldened conservative activists in Tarrant County, a county of more than 2 million people that’s home to Fort Worth and the last urban Republican stronghold in Texas, to further question local election results and political trends that reflect the increasing left-leaning population of the county. (The county voted for Joe Biden in 2020 by a bare majority.)

These conspiracies continue to rage despite Tarrant County’s election administrators being widely lauded for running smooth and secure elections. A state audit of the county’s 2020 general election concluded that elections staff delivered a “quality, transparent election,” while the former Republican-appointed secretary of state (someone who briefly aided in Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election) recently praised Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia as the “prototype for an election administrator.” 

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“Conspiracy theory whirlwind threatens to blow Texas out of national program that keeps voter rolls updated”


In virtual meetings taking place over a year, right-wing activists and Republican legislators have stoked concern over a multistate coalition that Texas and more than 30 other states use to help clean voter rolls. The majority of their grievances — that it is run by left-wing voter registration activists and funded by George Soros, among other things — were pulled straight from a far-right conspiracy website and are baseless. 

Now, lawmakers who regularly attend those meetings have introduced legislation written by the group that would end Texas’s participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center, also known as ERIC. 

The bills were introduced despite the efforts of Texas’s elections director, who attended a meeting and offered factual information related to their concerns last April, apparently without success. 

Keith Ingram, the elections director for the secretary of state’s office, told the group the program was the only option available to ensure voters aren’t registered or voting in more than one state at the same time. Nonetheless, the activists moved forward with an effort that experts say is set to undermine one of the best election integrity tools available to Texas and other states to prevent election fraud.

“We want to be able to do something and we have a senator that’s willing to help change that or add language or improve or reform ERIC,” said Toni Anne Dashiell last August, referring to Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola. Dashiell, the Republican national committeewoman for Texas,  organizes the meetings and refers to them as “TAD Talks.”

Shortly after, the group’s ERIC task force — led by Alan Vera, the current Harris County Republican Party ballot security chairman, and Dana Myers, the Texas Republican Party vice-chair — began drafting legislation. Myers declined to comment for this story. Dashiell and Vera did not respond to Votebeat’s requests for comment or to emailed questions about how the effort would improve elections in Texas. 

Vera announced during a January meeting of the task force that they had submitted the draft of such a bill to Hughes’ staff for review. Hughes, who attended almost every single one of the virtual meetings, filed legislation with their suggestions as Senate Bill 1070 in February. Rep. Jacey Jetton, R-Richmond, also a regular speaker in the virtual calls, filed a companion bill in the House. Hughes and Jetton did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

“Now, there is no evidence that ERIC is doing anything to Texas voter rolls, I want to be clear about that,” Hughes said during a virtual meeting in October. “But we do know, again, that the people running ERIC don’t share our worldview.”  …

Former Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican who left office after deciding against running for another term last year, told Votebeat that if states stop using ERIC, the potential for election fraud could increase “exponentially.” 

Merrill said that since the program was created in 2012, there have been no instances of vulnerabilities or irregularities associated with it. “Nothing has ever happened. Nothing’s ever been documented. Only these failed claims that have been introduced without any empirical data to back it up whatsoever,” Merrill said. “Why would you want to eliminate this? That tool has helped us be in a position to prosecute those people who have violated the trust and confidence of the process. And there is no other system in the United States at this time that matches that.”

But the Gateway Pundit’s campaign against ERIC has resonated in conservative circles.

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“Tucker Carlson, with video provided by Speaker McCarthy, falsely depicts Jan. 6 riot as a peaceful gathering”

NBC News:

Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday released security video from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, using footage provided exclusively to him by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to portray the riot as a peaceful gathering.

Carlson acquired the tapes as part of a deal for McCarthy, R-Calif., to win the speaker’s gavel. When McCarthy was struggling to gather the votes to lead the House, Carlson used his program to list two “concessions” he could make to win over far-right Republicans.

“First, release the January 6 files. Not some of the January 6 files and video — all of it,” Carlson, the most-watched host on cable news, said after McCarthy faced three failed votes. “So that the rest of us can finally know what actually happened on January 6, 2021.”

In the two months since McCarthy won the gavel, he has granted both. Carlson announced in late February that McCarthy had given him exclusive access to 44,000 hours of security video from the deadly riot before he unveiled some clips of the video on his show Monday night.

Carlson focused Monday’s segment on promoting former President Donald Trump’s narrative by showing video of his supporters walking calmly around the U.S. Capitol. He asserted that other media accounts lied about the attack, proclaiming that while there were some bad apples, most of the rioters were peaceful and calling them “sightseers,” not “insurrectionists.”

“The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress,” Carlson told his audience Monday. “Instead it shows police escorting people through the building, including the now-infamous ‘QAnon Shaman.’”

He continued: “More than 44,000 hours of surveillance footage from in and around the Capitol have been withheld from the public, and once you see the video, you’ll understand why. Taken as a whole, the video does not support the claim that Jan. 6 was an insurrection. In fact, it demolishes that claim.”

Video that Carlson didn’t air shows police and rioters engaged in hours of violent combat that resulted in injuries to hundreds of police officers. Two pipe bombs were also planted nearby but were not detonated.

Nearly 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack. About 140 officers were assaulted that day, and about 326 people have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including 106 assaults that happened with deadly or dangerous weapons. About 60 people pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement.

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“Election conspiracies fuel dispute over voter fraud system”


A bipartisan effort among states to combat voter fraud has found itself in the crosshairs of conspiracy theories fueled by Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election and now faces an uncertain future.

One state has dropped out, a second is in the process of doing so and a handful of other Republican-led states are deciding whether to stay.

The aim of the Electronic Registration Information Center, a voluntary system known as ERIC, has been to help member states maintain accurate lists of registered voters by sharing data that allows officials to identify and remove people who have died or moved to other states. Reports also help states identify and ultimately prosecute people who vote in multiple states.

In Maryland, state election officials have received reports through the system identifying some 66,000 potentially deceased voters and 778,000 people who may have moved out of state since 2013. In Georgia, the system is credited with providing data to remove nearly 100,000 voters no longer eligible to vote in the state.

Shortly after, Louisiana left the group, citing concerns raised by the posts. A day after being sworn in last month, Alabama’s new secretary of state, Wes Allen, sent a letter informing the center of the state’s exit after criticizing the program during his campaign.

Other Republican-led states could follow, according to a survey of state election offices by The Associated Press. Officials in Florida and Missouri said they are evaluating their participation, while legislation in Texas could force the state to leave. West Virginia election officials declined to weigh in, saying they are “closely monitoring the situation with ERIC’s membership.”

The departures and potential for additional ones have frustrated state election officials involved in the effort and have demonstrated how deeply election conspiracies have spread throughout the Republican Party.

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