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Key Pro-Trump Lawyers, Technicians Worked Together To Breach Voting Machines Nationwide

LAUDERHILL, FL - NOVEMBER 11: An elections official works on a counting machine as it was calibrated prior to the start of a recount of all votes at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office on November 11, 2... LAUDERHILL, FL - NOVEMBER 11: An elections official works on a counting machine as it was calibrated prior to the start of a recount of all votes at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office on November 11, 2018 in Lauderhill, Florida. Three close midterm election races for governor, senator, and agriculture commissioner are expected to be recounted in Florida. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images) MORE LESS
August 17, 2022 1:44 p.m.

I’ve spent the better part of the last two years covering Trump supporters’ efforts to break into voting machines in search of proof to substantiate their conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

So I didn’t want to let Monday’s Washington Post reporting go without comment: The Post flagged emails and other records produced for a lawsuit in federal court in Georgia. They concern, most immediately, Coffee County: Officials there recently replaced their election management system server out of concern it may have been compromised.

By whom? By a local businessman apparently working in tandem with a team of technicians under the direction of Sidney Powell, the pro-Trump lawyer. 

Compromised voting machines are serious business: They often have to be replaced, which can cost thousands or millions of dollars. Having their digital detritus floating around the web can also allow bad actors to discover and exploit vulnerabilities in the system. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Wednesday that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had launched a criminal investigation of the matter in Coffee County.

But the story goes far beyond Georgia: The records flagged by the Post confirm a sense I’ve had for a while, and one that’s been iteratively reported in various outlets: Much of the work behind infiltrating — breaking into, compromising — voting machines has been done by a relatively small group of people, working in tandem with locals. Let’s take a look in more detail. 

Key lawyers and technicians worked in concert around the country, under Sidney Powell’s direction

TPM first reported last year that major players in the election theft ecosystem met at pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood’s South Carolina plantation in late 2020 to plan their next steps. Present around that time: Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, CEO Patrick Byrne, Doug Logan — who would become the right-wing Arizona “auditor” — and Jim Penrose, a former NSA official. ProPublica would later conclude that these meetings represented the “origins of the stolen election myth.” 

The Post’s reporting fleshes this out further: Powell, according to the email records the paper reported, was at the helm of a small but fairly sophisticated operation to obtain county-level election machine data. Jesse Binnall, one of Trump’s current attorneys, was a key middleman for her work. Often, they worked with locals who were their contact points with elected officials — such as current Michigan GOP attorney general contender Matthew DePerno, who represented a plaintiff who was granted access to election machines in Antrim County; or Scott Hall, a Georgia businessman who convinced election officials in Coffee County to give him access to their equipment. 

On the technical side, the firm SullivanStrickler pops up across the country: Its technicians, with Powell’s authorization, worked to image the election machines in Antrim County. An extremely flawed report using that data made it to the president’s desk, and Trump was reportedly obsessed with the document. “I am authorizing payment today for Michigan,” Powell wrote to the firm’s chief operations officer, Paul Maggio, on Dec. 8, 2020, according to the Post.

Similar arrangements with SullivanStrickler, under Powell’s approval, were set up in the Detroit area and Las Vegas, the Post reported. SullivanStrickler’s work was then used to support various Big Lie efforts in court. In Nevada in December 2020, Jesse Binall, who was representing the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the results, cited a supporting statement from Gregory Freemyer, SullivanStrickler’s director of forensics. The same man was an “expert” in DePerno’s Michigan suit and helped pick apart the machines there.

New confirmation of a compromised Georgia voting system

We now know something similar happened in Coffee County, Georgia. Though Hall, the local businessman, convinced local officials to allow him to access to voting equipment, emails show that the day after the Capitol riot in D.C., Maggio told Powell in an email that his team was “on our way to Coffee County Georgia to collect what we can from the Election/ Voting machines and systems.” The job was “going well,” he said later. Records later showed they’d obtained digital copies of nearly every component of the county’s election system, the Post reported.

Another curious appearance in Coffee County: A business card belonging to Logan — the “auditor” of Maricopa County, Arizona and an expert witness for DePerno — was apparently later found in the county’s election offices. 

Also involved in Georgia: Stefanie Lambert Junttila, the court-sanctioned attorney who among other things is now representing Dar Leaf, a “constitutional” sheriff under state investigation for being part of an alleged conspiracy to infiltrate voting machines there (more on that later). In April last year, in the Post’s words, Penrose asked Maggio “to send the data and to bill Stefanie Lambert.” 

The data has become public, despite court orders and concerns about vulnerabilities

The digital fruits harvested by Powell and her legal and technical associates have been spotted across the country. 

Most notably, at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s “Cyber Symposium” last year, organizers shared data from Antrim County’s election machines with the audience, even though a Michigan judge had forbidden DePerno’s team from circulating the material. 

The Post reported:

“The new records show that after SullivanStrickler investigators copied the hard drive of an elections server in Antrim on Dec. 6, 2020, Maggio emailed Powell and Penrose, who were not involved in the local lawsuit. Maggio told them the Antrim files would be made available to download from a secure online folder once the firm was paid.” 

Also shared at Lindell’s symposium: Data from Mesa County, Colorado, where clerk Tina Peters now faces felony charges for an alleged scheme to violate election security protocols. Conan Hayes, the former pro surfer, allegedly helped Peters make the digital copies of her county’s machines. Hayes was on hand in Antrim County, too. Hayes seemingly showed up in the Post’s newly reported emails as well, regarding the previously unreported work in Detroit. Powell, writing to Maggio of SullivanStrickler, said that an employee of hers would “transfer money promptly, with the understanding that I and Phil Waldron and Todd and Conan will receive a copy of all data immediately.” 

Lindell’s symposium also saw data from Las Vegas, though it’s not clear it’s the same set that Binnall was after: The data was basically an unremarkable snapshot of the city’s public wifi network. 

Law enforcement is beginning to catch on

I’ve already flagged a few instances where law enforcement has caught on to what’s happening: The criminal investigation in Georgia, the criminal indictment in Colorado. It’s also worth noting the state investigation ongoing in Michigan. The state’s attorney general recently petitioned for a special prosecutor to be appointed, seeing as she’s running against one of the potential conspirators, DePerno, for her reelection bid.

That petition laid out several people thought to be potentially involved in the criminal conspiracy in Michigan. I’ve copied that list below, and added brief bios for anyone I haven’t already discussed. I think it shows how this small group of national players has worked with locals:

  • Matthew DePerno
  • Stefanie Lambert Juntilla
  • Daire Rendon (a Michigan state representative)
  • Ann Howard (an attorney who allegedly “coordinated printing of fake ballots to be run through the tabulators and recruitment of ‘volunteers.’”)
  • Ben Cotton (a Maricopa County “audit” subcontractor also allegedly involved in breaching voting machines in Michigan)
  • Jeff Lenberg (one of DePerno’s cybersecurity consultants)
  • Douglas Logan
  • James Penrose
  • Dar Leaf
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