A fundraising group led by a host and correspondent from the far-right One America News Network is now covering travel expenses for out-of-state Republican legislators to tour the shambolic “audit” of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election results.
The audit, which was authorized by the GOP-led Arizona Senate and is being led by an inexperienced firm with a CEO who espoused wild conspiracy theories, has become a pilgrimage site for Republican legislators eager to back up Trump’s phony voter fraud grievances — and potentially bring the Arizona model back to their home states.
A group of Wisconsin Republican legislators is slated to visit the site Friday, and one of them, State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R), told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday that the group “Voices and Votes“ was paying for the trip.
Voices and Votes is headed up by the former Trump administration official and current OAN host Christina Bobb, who has led the channel’s coverage of the audit, and Chanel Rion, OAN’s White House correspondent. In mid-April, Bobb announced that Voices and Votes had hit its first $150,000 fundraising goal for the audit. A week later, the Arizona Republican Party announced that OAN would provide livestreams of the audit process.
Brandtjen told Bobb in an interview on OAN recently, pictured above, that the Wisconsin legislature was “completely committed” to addressing election integrity. Perhaps ironically, Brandtjen focused on the use of third-party grant money in elections — a hobby horse on the right after organizations and wealthy individuals, such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, issued grants to municipalities to help fund pandemic voting measures.
“This kind of third-party interaction in elections is what gives everybody a pause — should give everybody a pause, both Republicans and Democrats,” Brandtjen said. “Because transparency and fairness in elections is what people demand.”
“Yes ma’am,” Bobb responded.
‘Taking An Interest In Your Audit’
Bobb and Rion’s group hasn’t been shy about its fundraising for the audit, which is accepting private outside donations from the likes of ex-Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne and others. As of Friday, donors to Voices and Votes could choose to fund several options on the organization’s website: “General Fund Donation,” “Arizona Election Audit” and simply “Pennsylvania.”
The pro-Trump conspiracy theorist lawyer Lin Wood told TPM in April that his group Fight Back had donated $50,000 to the audit effort through Voices and Votes. Wood also confirmed that Doug Logan, CEO of the audit’s lead contractor, Cyber Ninjas, was at Wood’s home last year “working on the investigation into election fraud” with others.
“Christina Bobb had asked if I would assist,” Wood said of his fundraising efforts.
But Voices and Votes’ move to fundraise legislators’ trips to Arizona places its founders even deeper into the Arizona audit story: Bobb has gushed to OAN viewers, for example, about the wave of state legislators interested in visiting the audit site — visits that, if the Wisconsin legislators’ trip is any indication, Bobb’s group could be funding.
“I understand there’s been a lot of states coming out, taking an interest in your audit. What can you tell me about their visits?” Bobb asked Arizona State Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R) at the top of an interview Friday.
“I’m very pleased that they actually took some interest in this,” Borrelli responded.
That interview came around two weeks after Bobb said on air that she’d heard “that other state legislators may be visiting the Arizona audit to get a closer look and possibly take this process back to their home states.”
She then launched into an on-air pitch for her fundraising group.
“Voice and Votes is an organization that I started, and I’m working to help other state senators get a close-up view of the Arizona audit,” Bobb said. “If you’d like to help fund other state senators to get an up close and personal view of the Arizona audit, you can donate at VoicesandVotes.org.”
A few days later, a group of Pennsylvania lawmakers including key Trump ally State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) visited the audit site for a tour. Mastriano later told Steve Bannon in an interview that Arizona was “really the model, in the future, for any elections that might be in dispute.” (The Washington Post first noted Bobb’s fundraising for legislators’ travel expenses.)
Bobb has played a key role in the Arizona audit story: Public records requests have revealed months-old emails from Bobb to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R), including one message in which Bobb claimed she was passing along witness declarations at the request of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
And The Post reported last week that Bobb had privately discussed the Arizona audit with Trump and his team.
A Colorado Republican who visited the audit site in recent days, state Rep. Ron Hanks, told TPM in an email that “I paid my expenses personally – no outside funds or contributions.” An Alaska state representative, David Eastman, said of Voices and Votes: “I haven’t had contact from that group or any other group for that matter.”
No other legislators who’ve visited Arizona in recent days responded to TPM’s questions Friday about whether their expenses were covered by Voices and Votes. A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Senate Leadership said they did not know whether Voices and Votes funded several legislators’ recent pilgrimage.
The spokesperson added, “If an outside group funded their trip, it will have to be disclosed on their statements of financial interests, but that won’t be due again until next year.”
Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.
This post has been updated.