CHEBOYGAN — An offer by a downstate attorney, associated with former Trump campaign attorney and ‘kraken’ conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, to pay for “experts” to review a northern Michigan county’s election results, has been met with skepticism.
“This is important enough that I’m not out splitting firewood,” said John Petkus, a local man who told Cheboygan County Board members he’d been an election worker, and found the process to be free and fair after observing in 19 precincts as a poll challenger.
“All of this conversation that is being done across the country, across the world, as someone mentioned earlier, has the exact goal of undermining the faith in our election,” Petkus said. “I’d also like to point out, it is very true that this commission has no authority to authorize an audit.”
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Detroit attorney Stefanie Lambert, who is associated with Powell in previously-filed election-related lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court, discussed her pro bono offer at a May 13 meeting of the board’s recently-formed election information subcommittee, where she said she was working with another downstate attorney, Matthew DePerno of Portage.
Lambert referenced familiar theories of vote flipping and foreign interference, though offered no evidence beyond reports and videos previously circulated and refuted by experts.
DePerno represented Bill Bailey of Central Lake Township, in a lawsuit accusing Antrim County of voter fraud, which 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer dismissed May 18.
“We think it is important that all of these local jurisdictions look at their election equipment,” Lambert said. “If we continue to allow third parties to interfere with our election, we don’t have a free country. Right?”
Yet it was the services of a private third-party “forensic team” which Lambert offered to Cheboygan County officials at no cost, during the subcommittee meeting.
This team, she said, would take images of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems election equipment and issue a report — a description that resembles the process a judge allowed in Antrim County.
The resulting report by Dallas-based Allied Security Operations Group was widely debunked by state and U.S. election experts.
Lambert did not name ASOG as the forensic team she could provide to Cheboygan County, but did reference the work of several people on the expert witness list DePerno filed with the court in the Antrim County case.
One of these, Doug Logan of Cyber Ninjas, is overseeing an audit of more than 2 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The audit has since drawn criticism from state and national officials.
On Thursday Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in a letter to Maricopa officials, the sanctity of that county’s voting machines had been compromised, making them unusable for future elections.
In the letter Hobbs cited security concerns resulting after public officials lost chain of custody of ballots to third party auditors.
Steve Delongchamp, of Election Source, a Dominion subcontractor with an office in Grand Rapids, shared his concerns the same could happen in Cheboygan County, should the machines be turned over to a third party.
Delongchamp said both Election Source and Dominion would welcome an audit, if the firm chosen was accredited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
The EAC is an independent bipartisan commission that certifies voting systems, accredits testing laboratories and collects and shares information on how U.S. elections are administered, according to the commission’s website.
“That means someone that knows what they’re doing, going into these machines, and someone that can be trusted not to do anything nefarious,” Delongchamp said, briefly detailing factual errors inherent in rumors surrounding the 2020 election.
For example, the Dominion equipment used in Antrim and Cheboygan counties did not have modems, were not connected to the internet and did not communicate with Germany or China, as has been alleged.
“While I appreciate Stefanie’s opinion, it is opinion and in some aspects she is just flat out wrong,” Delongchamp said.
A small number of commenters at the Cheboygan County Board meeting Tuesday, also referenced rumors and conspiracy theories which had called into question the results of the 2020 election.
Such as, that a data file containing the Maricopa County voter role was deleted (it wasn’t), that votes were “flipped” in Antrim County (they weren’t) and that both county’s machines were connected to the internet (they weren’t).
In one example, Beth Richardson said she had a feeling “foreign people” had accessed U.S. voter rolls and she’d heard 500,000 cellphones were hacked Nov. 4 and the personal information they contained was shared.
Most commenters, however, called the offer by Lambert a “red herring” and expressed concern that should commissioners chose to allow her “experts” access, officials were risking not only the county’s reputation, but also the budget, should Dominion choose to sue.
Dominion has filed defamation lawsuits against Powell, another former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump supporter and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
A man who identified himself as Stephen Hatt, from Indian River, offered commissioners a line of wisdom from a former Republican leader.
“The late, great Sam Rayburn, long-time Republican house chair and speaker, famously said one thing I remember well,” Hatt said. “He said, and I quote, ‘It takes a carpenter to build a barn but any jacka — can kick it down.’ I’ll leave that thought with you.”
Commissioners took no action on Lambert’s offer.
Subcommittee members previously discussed bringing either a resolution or a proposal to the full board, so a vote on whether to accept the offer could be forthcoming at a future meeting.
The county board has a planning session Thursday and the full board meets June 8. Both meetings begin at 9:30 a.m. and attendance information is available on the county’s website, cheboygancounty.net.