CEO of firm eyeing ballots appeared to make political posts
PHOENIX (AP) — The CEO of a company hired by Arizona Senate Republicans to lead a re-count of all 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s most populous county in November appears to have posted sympathetically about election conspiracies in a now-deleted Twitter account.
Senate President Karen Fann announced Wednesday that an independent audit of the election in Maricopa County would use four firms, with a Florida-based cyber security company called Cyber Ninjas leading the effort. The Senate contends the audit is needed to to ensure that President Joe Biden’s win was legitimate.
Fann promised a non-partisan independent audit of the elections results before choosing Cyber Ninjas, which focuses on computer application security for financial services and government clients. But according to an archive of what appears to be Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan’s Twitter account, he used hashtags and shared memes popular with people promoting disproven or unsupported allegations casting doubt on Biden’s victory.
For instance, on Dec. 14 Logan retweeted a response to a tweet by Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward in which she questioned the validity of 200,000 Maricopa County ballots. The response by another user said “Hint: After auditing the adjudicated ballots and corresponding AuditMarks, you may discover Trump got 200k more votes than previously reported in Arizona.”
The account, @securityvoid, identifies the owner as Logan and describes him as “Follower of Christ, Founder of @CyberNinjas, CTO of @uscybchallenge, Software Security Aficionado, and proud American.” The account was deleted sometime between Jan. 4 and the announcement of his selection to lead the audit, but it’s not clear precisely when.
The Associated Press could not independently verify if the account actually belonged to Logan, but he used the @securityvoid handle on presentation document s located by the AP. There was no immediate response to a request for comment sent to Cyber Ninjas. Fann did not respond to a request about Logan’s Twitter posts.
Fann’s announcement of the auditors’ hiring came more than a month after a judge ruled the Senate can access Maricopa County’s ballots, ballot tabulation equipment and other election materials. Fann and Senate Republicans had been pushing to do their own audit of the election results for months, and just two weeks ago confirmed that she also intended to recount ballots in the presidential race.
The other three firms hired to perform the review are Wake Technology Services Inc., CyFIR LLC and Digital Discovery. CyFIR speciazes in computer forensics and cyber attacks, while Wake has performed hand-count audits in Pennsylvania and New Mexico, according to the Senate. No additional background was provided on Digital Discovery, but its website says it focuses on digital forensics.
Recounts are something state law doesn’t allow except in narrow circumstances, but the judge’s ruling said the Senate has oversight powers that allow it to do whatever election review it wants.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, had urged Fann to avoid tainting her audit by hiring anyone with partisan ties. In a statement after Fann’s announcement, she urged full disclosure involving the companies.
“Arizona voters deserve full transparency regarding the selection and scope of work of these firms,” Hobbs said. “Proceeding without transparent procedures will threaten the confidence in and integrity and independence of the audit and can open the door to more conspiracy theories and further erosion of voters’ confidence in Arizona’s elections processes.”
The Senate provided a contract Fann signed along with Logan that showed the firm will provide a host of election review services for $150,000. The contract written by Cyber Ninjas said the hand count of federal races will be done using former law enforcement officers, retired military and other retirees in teams of three who have not worked for political campaigns working. Auditors will also review the accuracy of tabulation machines and ensure that election software was not altered.
Fann has said she wants to prove or disprove so-far unsubstantiated allegations made by backers of former President Donald Trump that fraud or other election malfeasance led to his loss in Arizona and other battleground states.
Fann has also said she wants Maricopa County to assist in the audit, but so far county officials have not said they were willing to help.
The Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors fought the Senate subpoenas and repeatedly said there were no issues with how the election was conducted. Multiple reviews, audits and a hand-count of a sample of ballots back that position.
“Our people need to be assured that the Senate and Maricopa County can work together on this audit, to bring integrity to the election process,” Fann said in a statement. “As Board Chair (Jack) Sellers and County Recorder (Stephen) Richer wrote in the Arizona Republic ‘a democracy cannot survive if its people do not believe elections are free and fair.’”
That op-ed in the Republic was written in January, when the board was fighting the Senate subpoenas and was preparing to do two additional election audits in an effort to mollify lawmakers.
Sellers said in a statement Wednesday that the county doesn’t know anything about the auditors Fann chose, stands by the election results and has been ready to hand over the ballots for months. He said there been no discussions about using county facilities to do the audit.
“I hope the auditors hired by the Senate will take great care with your ballots and the election equipment leased with your tax dollars,” Sellers said.
Last month, the county released the results of two new audits of their equipment that showed no malicious software or incorrect counting equipment and that none of the computers or equipment were connected to the internet.