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After months of confusion, wild conspiracy theories, and court battles to keep the funders of the bogus audit in Maricopa County private, some details have finally been revealed.
On Thursday morning, Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida company with no prior election audit experience that’s running the recount, issued a press release listing the donors who’ve collectively have coughed up a massive $5.7 million to fund this charade.
And in the least surprising news of 2021, it’s a laundry list of groups that have been maliciously pushing the Big Lie that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
The audit in Maricopa County was sanctioned by the Republican-controlled Arizona State Senate after QAnon conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud were boosted by a network of pro-Trump groups. The Senate pledged $150,000 to pay for the audit, as well as covering the costs of renting the building where the audit was held, and 24-hour security for the ballots.
The audit has been mired in controversy from the beginning, with Cyber Ninjas using untested methods and indulging wild conspiracy theories. This led to the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County calling those in charge a bunch of “grifters and con artists.”
One of the biggest questions critics had about the recount was where all the money was coming from, especially after the recount continued well beyond the proposed finish date and the Senate’s $150,000 was long gone. The Senate and Logan had been attempting to keep the details of the funding private, but earlier this month, a court in Arizona overruled those efforts and ordered that it to turn over documents related to the recount’s funding.
It appears that Logan’s press release is an attempt to get ahead of whatever revelations may be contained in those documents.
Topping the list of “Stop the Steal” groups is the America Project, a nonprofit run by Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock.com and one of the loudest voices boosting bogus conspiracy theories about election fraud.
The America Project donated more than half of the total raised ($3.25 million), and Byrne himself personally pledged $1 million to the fundraising effort. The group, through its “Fund the Audit” website, solicited donations from the public to reach a goal of $2.8 million. Logan’s list does not break down who donated the rest of the group’s money.
Byrne also spent recent months funding the production of “The Deep Rig,” a supposed documentary about supposed election fraud, starring a who’s who of election fraud conspiracy theorists—including Logan himself.
Next on the donor list is the group America’s Future, which raised just shy of $1 million for the audit. The group, which describes itself as an organization that “recruits and cultivates young professionals to become effective, lifelong advocates who will inspire their peers to embrace freedom,” is chaired by disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, one of the biggest proponents of the Big Lie and a hero in the QAnon world.
Flynn recently said there was no reason a military coup couldn’t happen in the U.S. in response to the 2020 election, just as happened recently in Myanmar.
Another major donor was “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell’s nonprofit Defending the Republic, which donated $550,000. Powell is facing possible disbarment for her bogus election lawsuits on behalf of the Trump campaign.
While neither Trump nor the Trump campaign is listed among the donors, the links to the former president among those who are listed are extremely strong. Powell, Flynn, and Byrne all met with Trump in the Oval Office in December, when they reportedly pushed for him to effectively declare martial law and seize election equipment around the country.
There are two other groups listed among the audit donors.
The first is Voices and Votes, a nonprofit set up by One America News presenters Chanel Rion and Christina Bobb, who repeatedly boosted the funding effort on air while being given special access to the audit floor.
The other is the Election Integrity Funds for the American Republic, together with a sister group called the Legal Defense Fund for the American Republic. Both groups are linked to attorney Matthew DePerno, who was the attorney in a failed lawsuit alleging massive election fraud in Michigan’s Antrim County.
DePerno, together with the OAN-sponsored group and Byrne’s America Project, also “provided operational support and advice pivotal in executing the audit,” Logan said.
“As we continue our commitment to transparency, we want to take this opportunity to publicly thank and disclose those organizations that have supported us during this audit,” Logan said in an emailed statement, which claimed that 1,500 people have spent over 100,000 hours working on the recount.
The Maricopa County audit has become the focus of intense scrutiny in MAGA world, as many see it as a possible avenue for Trump to return to the White House—which it isn’t. Dozens of GOP lawmakers from other states have visited the audit site, pledging to push for similar recounts in their own states.
Trump has become obsessed with the Arizona audit in recent months and has taken to repeating almost verbatim the bogus claims made by Logan and others about widespread election fraud.
Despite the claim of “transparency” from Logan, the Cyber Ninjas CEO has yet to reveal how this huge pile of cash was spent or provide any more information about the individuals who have donated to fund the audit.
But he did reveal how everyone was fed during the recount.
In his statement, Logan thanked Apologia Church in Phoenix for providing “snacks for all of our participants throughout the duration of the audit and tirelessly working behind the scenes to make this all a success.”
The militantly anti-abortion church, which in the past produced a film called “Babies Are Murdered Here,” defied lockdown measures over the last year and remained open without requiring masks indoors.