Former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne — who egged on President Trump’s election reversal crusade at a bizarre White House meeting last year — is the latest prominent 2020 election conspiracy theorist to put his weight behind financially supporting the questionable audit of Arizona’s 2020 election.
Byrne, in Telegram posts and interviews, claims to have launched The America Project, which he describes as a “continuation” of his “fight” against the “election fraud scandal” of 2020.
So far, the organization’s only public focus appears to be raising money for the audit of Arizona’s largest county, which has been wrought with controversy since it started last week. An official Twitter account for the audit promoted a fundraising page connected to The America Project, fundtheaudit.com.
This audit is historic and the first of its kind in the United States. If you would like to join the tens of thousands of Americans who are helping fund this audit, please donate at: https://t.co/BTYw4Wg8Gh
— Maricopa Arizona Audit (@ArizonaAudit) April 29, 2021
The fundraising website says The America Project is now aiming to collect $2.8 million — a sum that dwarfs the $150,000 in public funding that the GOP-controlled state Senate, which ordered the audit, has put up for it.
In an interview with the outlet New Tang Dynasty on April 18, Byrne claimed to have donated $1 million to the America Project — and $4 million overall “since this whole fight started.” On Telegram a few days later, he said he’d given $500,000 to fundtheaudit.com. Byrne didn’t respond to TPM’s request for comment.
The audit is racing to finish a hand recount of 2.1 million ballots by May 14, when its lease of the counting site ends.
Byrne is the latest pro-Trump conspiracy theorist to hype the GOP audit as a beacon for dejected Trump supporters: Lin Wood, the litigious pro-Trump attorney currently running for chair of the South Carolina Republican Party, claims his foundation, “Fight Back,” has donated $50,000 to a fundraiser for the audit being led by a One America News anchor who has also been reporting on the recount.
Wood acknowledged to TPM earlier this month that the man that the state Senate hired to lead the audit, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, was part of a group “working on the investigation into election fraud” at Wood’s South Carolina property in November.
Byrne’s new group has apparently reunited several other figures from the 2020 bid to undo Trump’s electoral defeat
During a speech at the “Health and Freedom Conference” at Rhema Bible College earlier this month, Byrne said that he’d be working with the people who he collaborated with while trying to challenge the election results.
“We’re taking different corners of the fight,” he said, referencing My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell and former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn.
“We’ve created a group called the America Project.”
Byrne concluded his remarks by brandishing a $100 bill and saying a plumber had given it to him for his efforts to save the republic. Flynn — who, along with Wood, urged Trump in December to declare martial law — has promoted the Maricopa audit fundraising page on his Parler channel.
At the December White House meeting, Byrne reportedly got into a shouting match with White House lawyers whom he told Trump were not doing enough to challenge the election results.
Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is serving as a spokesperson for the audit, promoted the fundraising page run by Byrne’s group at a press conference this week. He told The Washington Post he was unaware that Byrne was involved in the gambit. He did not respond to TPM’s inquiry about Byrne, but told TPM earlier this month that coming up with plans for how private donations would be publicly disclosed were low on the audit’s priority list.
Senate leaders have said that the refusal of Maricopa County to cooperate with the audit has caused its cost to grow. The audit’s Twitter account also claimed that the new fundraising bid would support a legal defense fund, as the audit faces a lawsuit from Democrats.
In the litigation, Democrats allege that the auditors are failing to comply with the state’s laws and policies regarding ballot security. The Democrats so far have not been successful in their efforts to get a court order halting the audit while the case proceeds. But the judge in the case did order that the auditors release publicly their procedures, rejecting auditors’ claim the trade secrets and legislative immunity should allow them to keep those documents secret.
While in court, the auditors have tried to distance themselves from any effort to reverse the election results, even as they have embraced the fundraising help from the Trump allies who spearheaded the 2020 reversal campaign.
“Our client is not going into this with the perception that they are going to find anything wrong,” a lawyer for the auditors said at a Tuesday hearing. “That nothing went wrong is an acceptable answer to our client, so we just wish to make that absolutely clear to the court.”