A handwritten note from December appears to tie pro-Trump lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell to one of the companies contracted to carry out the “audit” of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election results.
The Arizona Mirror reported on the document Monday: It describes tech contractor Wake TSI’s intent to examine voting machines and 2020 ballots from Fulton County, Pennsylvania, and includes the signatures of various officials from Fulton County.
Wake TSI would go on to become one of a handful of contractors performing the Arizona audit. On Tuesday, news broke that the company’s Arizona contract had ended on May 14, and that Wake TSI had opted not to renew its relationship with the Arizona state Senate, which authorized the audit.
The bottom of the Pennsylvania document contains the hand-written text, “Senator Mastriano set this review of Fulton Counties [sic] voter system and mail-in ballots. Wake TSI is contracted to Defending the Republic a 501(c)4.”
Powell has advertised Defending the Republic as a legal fund supporting her lawsuits over 2020 results in various battleground states.
Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano (R) organized a hearing in a Gettysburg hotel involving Pennsylvania lawmakers and then-Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani. He did not respond to TPM’s request for comment on the document Wednesday.
But in an email to TPM, Fulton County’s elections director Patti Hess confirmed the signature and handwritten note on the document belonged to Gene Kern, co-founder of Wake TSI.
There’s no indication that Wake TSI’s connection to Powell played any role in the company landing a contract in Arizona. However, the Arizona Senate’s choice of contractors has raised eyebrows: Neither Wake TSI nor Cyber Ninjas, the chief contractor in Arizona, had significant experience in the election sphere prior to 2020. But both were connected to the Republican effort to undermine confidence in the results of the 2020 race.
In Cyber Ninjas’ case, CEO Doug Logan did work “on the investigation into election fraud” at pro-Trump lawyer and QAnon adherent Lin Wood’s home in November, Wood told TPM. Logan also promoted wild stolen-election conspiracy theories on Twitter.
Neither Powell, Wake TSI, Fann, nor spokespeople for the audit responded to TPM’s requests for comment.
Fann told the Associated Press that she could not recall how she came to hear about Cyber Ninjas.
“To be honest with you I can’t even tell you exactly what path led me there,” she said.
Trump Defenders Open Their Wallets
As the Arizona audit got underway, it became a cause célèbre for Trump and the boosters of his stolen election assertions. Some of those personalities threw their weight behind fundraising efforts to support the audit, claiming it would be the first step toward vindicating Trump’s false claims.
In an interview last month, ex-Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne claimed — though there is no documentation to back this up — that both he and Powell had donated $500,000 to the Arizona audit effort.
“I’ve put up half-a-million, Sidney Powell put up half-a-million” to the website FundTheAudit.com, Byrne told Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman, a podcaster also known as Tore who authored an affidavit that Powell cited in one of her lawsuits.
Later in the interview, Byrne made reference to Defending the Republic, rather than Powell personally, donating $500,000. But then he referred to Powell again.
“Yeah, I had to put in the start-up money, Sidney put in start-up money to get the troops on the ground and the things to a certain point,” he said.
Release The Kraken
Powell, who picked up the nickname “Kraken” during her attempt to flip the election results, was involved in the Trump campaign’s efforts to sow doubt over the 2020 election and now faces a lawsuit from Dominion, the voting machine company, over her weeks of allegedly defamatory claims regarding their equipment.
Among other things, Powell claimed that Trump won the 2020 election in a “landslide” and that the effort to steal Trump’s second term involved “thousands” of co-conspirators, “including the people running the machines at each of the polling centers.”
She claimed that Dominion machines changed thousands of votes to help Biden, and that the 2020 election showed “the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China and the interference with our elections here in the United States.”
Defending the Republic is a co-defendant with Powell in the Dominion lawsuit.
In a motion to dismiss the suit in March, Powell’s attorneys described her position that “reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.”
And in a filing Monday, Powell’s lawyers re-stated that point: “Without a doubt Sidney Powell believes the statements to be true—that is why she instituted litigation in four separate jurisdictions to establish their truth,” they wrote, adding: “Given the full context of a lawyer presenting her clients’ claims and evidence, the statements were clearly intending to tell the audience what the litigation sought to prove.”