By ZACH MONTELLARO and NICK NIEDZWIADEK
The House Oversight Committee is launching an investigation into the ballot review being run by the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona, the committee announced on Wednesday.
“Americans’ right to vote is protected by the Constitution and is the cornerstone of our democratic system of government,” Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who helms the subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties, said in a statement.
The committee is seeking a wide range of information from Cyber Ninjas, the firm overseeing the Arizona effort, including communications it had with Maricopa County officials, former President Donald Trump or his representatives, and those who have advanced election-related falsehoods such as Sidney Powell, Mike Lindell and Lin Woods.
The committee issued a letter Wednesday to Cyber Ninjas Chief Executive Officer Douglas Logan requesting information about the legitimacy of the effort. The letter gave Cyber Ninjas two weeks to comply with the committee’s requests.
Proponents of the review have called the process an “audit,” but election professionals and local and state election officials have said the effort is nothing more than a conspiracy-tinged fishing expedition that does not rise to the standards of a professional audit.
“The Committee is seeking to determine whether the privately funded audit conducted by your company in Arizona protects the right to vote or is instead an effort to promote baseless conspiracy theories, undermine confidence in America’s elections, and reverse the result of a free and fair election for partisan gain,” Maloney and Raskin said in their joint statement.
Representatives for the Arizona “audit” did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the House investigation.
The committee’s request also asks for more information on the structure of Cyber Ninjas itself, and for information on how the review is being conducted.
The letter to Logan homes in on many of the criticisms leveled against Cyber Ninjas and the review, including the company’s lack of prior experience in the field, questions about the funding of the operation, and Logan’s public comments embracing the fiction that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, among other conspiracy theories.
The investigation comes as Trump and his allies continue to fixate on the Arizona review of ballots in its most populous county, and have built momentum for similar exercises in other states that Biden won such as Pennsylvania, where Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano is seizing on the issue ahead of a potential gubernatorial run.
The Pennsylvania state department issued guidance prohibiting access to voting equipment by third parties in an effort to cut off Mastriano’s drive.
The GOP has become increasingly animated by concerns over “election integrity” and recent public opinion surveys have shown that Republican-aligned voters are increasingly distrustful of America’s electoral system, as Trump continues to spread false claims about the 2020 election.
The review will likely be costly to taxpayers. On Wednesday, the county’s Republican-controlled board of supervisors announced that it had acquired new voting equipment, saying the previous equipment was tainted by the review and that it could not be used in future elections. The new equipment increased the cost of the contract by millions of dollars, the county said.
The county board has vocally opposed the state Senate’s ordered review, as has the recently elected chief county elections official, who is also a Republican.
“Imagine leasing a car and then loaning it to someone who totals it. You’re still on the hook to pay off the wrecked car. Plus, you need a new car,” board chair Jack Sellers, a Republican, said in a statement.
The Arizona review has dragged on for 12 weeks and has been mired by several problems and delays that election officials say further undermine the credibility of the endeavor.