Mastriano, Pa. state lawmakers visit Arizona election audit

By: and - June 2, 2021 1:42 pm

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks with attendees on the Capitol steps of a rally for gun rights on September 29, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

(*This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 6/2/2021, to include comment from Jason Thompson, a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and at 7 p.m. with additional comments from state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin)

Three Pennsylvania state lawmakers visited an ongoing review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Ariz., on Wednesday.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, and state Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, all took the trip west to meet with Arizona state legislators and tour the audit facility, according to a statement from the audit’s official Twitter account Tuesday.

This review was approved by the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate in February, and comes after former Republican President Donald Trump waged a months-long campaign to overturn the 2020 election results, citing baseless claims of mass voter fraud. 

While unsuccessful, Trump has since promoted Arizona’s audit, believing it will find evidence of his unfounded theory of electoral malfeasance.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes,” Trump told a crowd during a party at his home in Mar-a-Lago, according to the Washington Post. “So we’re going to watch that very closely. And after that, you’ll watch Pennsylvania and you’ll watch Georgia and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin. You’re watching New Hampshire. Because this was a rigged election. Everybody knows it.”

The results of the audit couldn’t change President Joe Biden’s victory. Now that he’s been inaugurated, the only way for him to leave office is resignation, impeachment, or presidential disability, according to legal experts.

But Trump’s supporters across the country, including in the commonwealth, have taken to his call. A group known as Audit the Vote PA already has attracted 65,000 signatures to a letter asking state lawmakers to launch their own election investigation.

But no such evidence was found when Maricopa County, home of Phoenix, conducted a by-hand count audit of sample ballots and hired independent firms to conduct a forensic audit of tabulation equipment. The county found no abnormalities

Before that review was even finished, the Arizona Senate used its subpoena power to obtain the county’s 2.1 million general election ballots and hired Wake Technology Services Inc. — a Pennsylvania-based firm with no experience auditing elections — to conduct their review.

Wake TSI is part of an audit team led by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity company headed by CEO Doug Logan. Logan propagated unsubstantiated claims of “election fraud” and penned a memo that repeats false claims about foreign and digital interference in the 2020 election. 

Mastriano, who visited the audit, helped connect Arizona’s senators with Wake TSI. He also brought the firm to rural Fulton County, Pa. to conduct a similar election audit there, according to the Arizona Mirror, a sibling site of the Capital-Star.

Mastriano and the Pennsylvania delegation declined a request for comment from an Arizona Mirror reporter who approached them on Wednesday.

The audit was paid for by a foundation founded by Sidney Powell, a former Trump campaign attorney who spread baseless conspiracy theories that rigged voting machines were used to steal the election from Trump. Powell is now being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Machines.

Wake TSI’s review of Fulton County’s ballots found no evidence of fraud. Dominion, the county’s voting machine vendor, also found that the review violated their contract, and forced Fulton County to pay $25,000 for new machines.

As of May 14, Wake TSI was no longer involved with the count, according to the Arizona Republic, which reported that Scottsdale-based technology company StratTech Solutions has taken over.

As of Monday, more than 1.2 million ballots have been counted, according to an update from the official “Maricopa Arizona Audit” Twitter account.

Spokespeople for House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said that they were not invited to visit the audit.

Cutler is “busy managing through issues here and working to complete an on-time budget,” spokesperson Mike Straub said in an email.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, did not receive an invitation to attend the trip, but spokesperson Jason Thompson said a lawmaker among the delegation suggested he come. Corman, however, had a prior commitment, Thompson said.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

According to a statement from Mastriano, no taxpayer money was used on the trip.

“It’s really befuddling to me that anyone would have any concerns,” Mastriano said on former Trump aid Steve Bannon’s show after the visit. “This is America. We should have free and transparent elections.”

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Marley Parish
Marley Parish

Marley Parish covered the Senate for the Capital-Star.

Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.