Trump Secretly Funded Arizona 'Audit' With Million-Dollar Donation
Former President Donald Trump made a “secret” $1 million donation to the election audit conducted in Arizona following his false claims that the election was stolen from him, TheGuardian reports.
The audit was requested by Arizona GOP senators, and doubted by many of their colleagues due to the “wild conspiracy theories” it mirrored. An assertion “that bamboo fibers found in ballot sheets proved they had been printed in Asia” even caused some local GOP members to deem the probe a “grift disguised as an audit.”
But nevertheless, the audit persisted.
Although the audit eventually proved baseless and unsuccessful, The Guardian reports that “one of the largest benefactors” behind this attempt to counter the 2020 election results remained a secret for nearly two years.
But watchdog group “Documented” was able to track funding for the failed assessment and eventually landed on Trump’s super PAC, Save America.
First, the group discovered that Cyber Ninjas, the Florida company that conducted the audit, was provided $5.7 million by far-right groups, and then given an additional $1 million from former Trump advisor and attorney Cleta Mitchell.
Still, questions around the origin of the $1 million remained unanswered.
The New York Times reports that in September of 2021, “unnamed ‘officials,’” as well as Arizona GOP senators who requested the election audit, adamantly denied Trump’s contribution.
However, with its research on many corporate, tax and campaign finance filings, as well as emails and text messages between Trump allies that were obtained by nonpartisan accountability group American Oversight, "Documented" managed to counter those claims.
The Guardian broke down the process of how the watchdog group traced the donation back to Trump.
Like many incidents surrounding Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020, tracing back Trump’s contribution to the audit starts with the House Select Committee.
The committee’s final report mentioned that Trump super PAC, Save America, donated $1 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) — led by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows — but did not disclose the origin or the reason for the money.
Further research revealed that Trump’s contribution possibly began around June 2021, as accountability group American Oversight tracked text messages between retired Army officer and “arch election denier” Phil Waldron and Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company that conducted the audit.
Waldron texted Logan, “Kurt is going to talk to 45 today, about $.”
According to the Guardian, “Kurt” likely referred to Kurt Olden, an “election denying lawyer.” He continued, “Mike L talking to Corey L,” referring to CEO of MyPillow and devoted Trump supporter Mike Lindell and Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
A couple of weeks later, Waldron asked Logan if he had received a $1 million payment from Lewandowski. He texted, “Supposedly Kurt talked to Trump and they got 1 mil for you,” but he noted he “couldn’t verify who sent and received.”
According to The Guardian, the Federal Election Commission reported that less than two weeks later, on July 26, 2021, Save America transferred the $1 million to CPI. Two days later, a new group, American Voting Rights Foundation (AVRF) “registered as a corporation in Delaware.”
CPI donated $1 million to AVRF — the group’s first and only donation — in 2021, and although the date of donation is unknown, the clear relationship between the groups, the “timing and amounts” of the transfers, as well as the revealed text messages between Trump allies all leads to one culprit: Trump.
Furthermore, on the day AVRF registered as a corporation, Trump attorney Mitchell emailed Cyber Ninjas CEo Logan and put him in touch with the audit spokesperson, Randy Pullen as well as AVRF treasurer Tom Datwyler.
The Arizona Republic recently confirmed that Trump was notified of the process the whole time
GOP vice-chair of Maricopa County board of supervisors Bill Gates told The Guardian he is “disappointed, but not surprised” by the revelation.
“At the very least, it is highly hypocritical for the Arizona state senate to have allowed the audit to be funded in this fashion,” Gates said.
Ultimately, even after the great lengths Trump and his cohort of election deniers went to assist in the audit, the goal to overturn Arizona's election was never met. The Guardian reports that in 2020, President Joe Biden won Maricopa County, the most populated in Arizona and where the audit took place, by 45,109 votes.
Regarding the morality of the audit, Gates added that Arizona law states, “electoral candidates are not allowed to fund vote recounts which have to be financed with taxpayer dollars.” And although the audit was “technically not a recount,” it’s clear the intent was the same.
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Reprinted with permission from Alternet.