The audit that Arizona’s GOP Senate has ordered of the 2020 election in the state’s largest county will be partially bankrolled by private donations — including from a fundraising effort spearheaded by some of the loudest promoters of President Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
Lin Wood, who brought several lawsuits challenging the 2020 election, claims his organization has donated a five-figure sum to a fundraiser led by One America News correspondents to help pay for the audit, which is also running into a whole host of logistical issues.
Wood, TPM can exclusively report, has a preexisting relationship with Doug Logan, a cyber security consultant and CEO of “Cyber Ninjas,” which the state Senate tapped to lead the audit of Maricopa County.
Logan has already faced scrutiny for how he promoted baseless 2020 fraud theories on social media, as well as for a document he drafted listing “Election Fraud Facts & Details” that was posted on Sidney Powell’s website.
Wood told TPM on Thursday night that Logan was at his South Carolina property late last year because Logan, as Wood understood, was working with others on an investigation into the 2020 elections.
Logan has not returned texts and voicemails from TPM.
“He was there working on the investigation into election fraud,” Wood told TPM, adding that Logan was working with “others” on the 2020 election investigation, not with Wood himself.
“I opened up my home to allow people to work on the election fraud investigation,” Wood said.
While Logan was there, according to Wood, he gave Wood some assistance on a separate cybersecurity issue Wood was dealing with as a “favor.” Wood’s account of Logan’s assistance was backed by interviews TPM has conducted with others aware of the November episode as well as by text messages that TPM reviewed.
Wood now says that his group, Fight Back, has donated $50,000 to the fundraiser for the audit, which in theory is being done on behalf of Arizona lawmakers.
The question of who is financially supporting the supposedly official review, and what those donors will expect it to find, is the latest controversy to consume the audit.
The fundraisers claim that they have collected more than $150,000 but are pledging to raise even more for the effort, which is expected to cost more than the $150,000 in taxpayer funds that the state Senate had agreed to put up.
A ‘No-Win’ Situation For A Cash-Strapped Audit
State Senate President Karen Fann (R) told the Arizona Capitol Times recently that legislators had a “no-win” situation in funding the audit, as Maricopa County officials have refused to offer any cooperation in the review beyond what’s been demanded in Senate subpoenas that were upheld in court. Fann did not respond to TPM’s inquiry.
Maricopa County challenged the subpoenas as part of a larger resistance to the audit. County officials have called the demands for voting materials “a draconian abuse of power” and argue that another audit is unnecessary, given the other steps that have already been taken to vet the election.
In addition to paying for the audit itself, there is now a scramble to cover the costs of securing the location of the audit. It will be conducted at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds — a location that was chosen after the county refused to host the audit at its own facilities.
“Right now we are arranging 24-hour security at the (state) Coliseum since the Board of Supervisors is refusing to let us anywhere near the building,” Fann told the Arizona Capitol Times.
Enter Lin Wood and some of the other high-profile voices who pushed Trump’s claims that the election had been stolen from him.
Asked To ‘Assist’
Beginning on April 7, Wood promoted the fundraising efforts of a group called Voices and Votes. The group’s leader, One America News host Christina Bobb, said on Twitter that it was their goal “to cover the expenses of the audit, which will ensure its complete scope of work.”
Wood told TPM that “Christina Bobb had asked if I would assist.” He now says his group, Fight Back, has donated $50,000 for the audit, though he was not certain if that money had made it to those hired to do the election review yet.
There have been some discrepancies around whether the donations would travel through the Senate first or go straight to the auditors: Wood initially wrote on his Telegram channel, in an April 9 message purportedly quoting Bobb, that the money would go directly to the Senate. Later in the day, he followed up with a message from Bobb clarifying that the funds would be sent “directly” to the auditors.
Bobb did not respond to a Twitter message from TPM, nor did TPM receive a response from an email sent to the address listed on the website for Voices and Votes, which Bobb launched with OAN White House Correspondent Chanel Rion and Courtland Sykes, an unsuccessful 2018 candidate for the Republican Senate nomination in Missouri.
Ken Bennett, a former Republican Arizona secretary of state who is serving as a spokesperson for the audit, told TPM that he didn’t think it was the plan for the private funding to go through the Senate first. Citing conversations he’s had with Logan, Bennett said that Logan wasn’t actively soliciting the grants but was willing to accept donations that would cover the gap between the public funding the Senate has provided for the audit and what it will ultimately cost.
He said that the audit team hadn’t settled on a disclosure mechanism for making public who donated to the effort and what the funding paid for.
“That’s about item number 496 in the the back of my mind that I’m sure will be part of the discussion when everything is said and done,” Bennett said,
Ironically, this fundraising gambit comes just after Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed into law a bill that bans private donations for administering elections, after charity grants helped both Democratic and Republican election officials in the state retool voting infrastructure for the pandemic.
“Those kinds of grants and funding apparently helped the election occur. And it looks like it’s going to be part of helping to make the audit occur too,” Bennett said. “I personally would prefer that everything that related to elections or the audit of elections happen with publicly raised and sourced funds that go through a state budgeting process or county budgeting process.”
‘He Will Reveal The Truth’
Wood told TPM he didn’t initially know that Doug Logan would be leading the audit. But he had apparently learned by April 9, when in a Telegram post announcing that the Voices and Votes fundraiser had met its initial $150,000 goal, Wood said he knew the “individual who is leading the Arizona audit team.”
“He is a man of God. He will reveal the truth,” Wood said then.
Wood also told TPM that had not been in touch with the auditors themselves about raising the money. Bobb told the Washington Post that she had spoken to Logan’s Florida-based cybersecurity company, Cyber Ninjas, and that the firm had agreed to accept private donations.
The effort to get the audit going has been turbulent to say the least. According to a letter from Maricopa County published Thursday by The Arizona Republic’s Jen Fifield, the county is still in the dark on when or where to deliver the subpoenaed material, which include both 2.1 million ballots and various pieces of election equipment.
The county had previously been informed that the inspection of those materials was to begin as soon as April 21, according to the letter.
Additionally, a sign-up form the audit posted to recruit volunteers to observe the audit was at first taken down by Google Forms and then by Survey Monkey on Thursday night, though eventually the audit team got it up.
Election administration experts have questioned the aggressive plan for the audit laid out in the proposal from Cyber Ninjas, which will have 60 days to complete the review.
Wood, however, has full faith in Logan’s ability to pull off the audit.
“If it’s the Doug Logan that I knew, and I believe it is, he is a fine Christian man,” Wood said. “I think he’s an excellent person to have that job. I’d trust any audit he gave.”