PA AG Gears Up For Lawsuit Over Election Audit

Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano Speaks at ReOpen Rally in Harrisburg, PA on June 5th, 2021. Mastriano is considering a run for Governor of Pennsylvania in 2022. (Photo by Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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July 9, 2021 5:05 p.m.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro suggested that he would sue to block subpoenas issued as part of a state senator’s attempt to repeat Arizona’s audit of the 2020 election.

“Right now, this information is being requested voluntarily but should subpoenas be issued, you can expect our office to do everything to protect the Commonwealth, its voters and the free, fair election that was held in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said on Thursday.

Pennsylvania state senator and head of the Senate government affairs committee Doug Mastriano (R) sent memoranda this week to three Pennsylvania counties — Philadelphia, Tioga, and York — asking for information about the 2020 election.

That included requests for pollbooks, election data, equipment, and ballots, according to a copy of the eight-page letter published by the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. The letter also asks for SIM cards, paper samples from ballots, and passwords for accounts involved in operating election software.

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Mastriano was part of a crowd of people that went behind police lines at the Capitol on Jan. 6 but did not enter the building, and has said that he complied with lawful orders that day.

His investigation closely follows the Arizona audit, a bogus attempt to discredit the 2020 election which has doubled as a mecca for the MAGA faithful. Mastriano visited last month.

Mastriano gave counties a July 31 deadline to reply to the letter. County officials have already said that they are unlikely to comply.

The Pennsylvania state senator told a radio host on Wednesday that if the counties don’t comply with the letters, he will issue a subpoena.

That would put the ball in Shapiro’s court; the attorney general has suggested he would file a lawsuit asking a judge to halt and throw out the state Senate subpoenas.

Bruce Marks, an attorney providing legal advice to Mastriano on his investigation, told TPM on Friday that the team was preparing for litigation.

Marks is both a former politician and currently an attorney to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. In the 1990s, Marks ran for state senate in an election that involved a rare case of actual electoral fraud. A federal judge ordered the results of the state senate election overturned after the court found that mass voter fraud had illegally swung the outcome to the attorney’s Democratic opponent.

“The investigation doesn’t mean that there was fraud — it’s designed to find out what happened,” Marks said of Mastriano’s probe.

The Arizona audit was bankrolled by non-profits linked to a host of people involved in spreading bizarre theories about the 2020 election, including Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne and the conspiracy theorizing attorney Lin Wood.

Byrne did not return a request for comment from TPM on whether he was planning to do the same for Arizona.

Marks, who wrote a letter saying that the Pennsylvania audit could accept private funding, told TPM that the opinion said that “there’s nothing in Pennsylvania law that would prohibit the Pennsylvania Republican caucus from receiving 501(c)4 funding for the legislative investigation.”

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