Volunteer observers of the GOP’s shady “audit” of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election results are being required to sign non-disclosure agreements, local station ABC 15 reported Tuesday night.
An unnamed volunteer told ABC 15 that all observers were being required to sign the document by Cyber Ninjas, the lead contractor for the audit. The so-called audit, which has faced legal challenges and criticisms over lack of transparency and poor logistics, was initiated by Arizona’s GOP-controlled state senate.
“I agree that unless I am authorized in writing by Cyber Ninjas, Inc. and the Arizona State Senate, I will not disclose any Confidential Information to any person who is not conducting the Audit,” the non-disclosure agreement reportedly reads in part.
The document also purports to restrict observers from making “public statements, social media posts, or similar public disclosures” about the audit without authorization, or until after the audit’s results are public.
The document notes potential “legal consequences” including punitive damages for violating the agreement.
A spokesperson for Cyber Ninjas did not respond to TPM’s request for comment on ABC 15’s report.
Cyber Ninjas has fought in court to keep information about the audit private. A judge’s order last week forced the company to produce documents outlining its policies and practices for the review.
Critics have focused on the audit’s lack of transparency: Journalists are forced to operate as a “pool” — only one reporter, photojournalist, and videographer at a time — and their movements are restricted within the audit venue.
Initially, reporters were required to work as observers if they wanted to see the audit first-hand. One reporter who volunteered as an observer, The Arizona Republic’s Jen Fifield, noted on Twitter that she was not required to sign an NDA as part of that volunteer work.
The audit has been tagged by suspicion and allegations of conflict of interest from the start: Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, boosted false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election on a since-deleted Twitter account, and last year he worked with others “on the investigation into election fraud” at the home of the fringe pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood, Wood confirmed to TPM.
The audit is also accepting private donations, which have been raised by the likes of Wood, ex-Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, and One America News anchor Christina Bobb. OAN is the Senate-approved live-streaming broadcaster of the audit.
Donald Trump’s supporters and the former president himself have spoken openly about the audit having the potential to reinvigorate bogus fraud claims and calls for audits elsewhere, like Michigan and Georgia.