BELLAIRE — A judge denied a motion from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson seeking to lift a stay order in a dismissed Antrim County election-related lawsuit to assess whether court-protected images from Antrim County’s voting equipment were shared during a “cyber symposium” hosted by Donald Trump supporter and My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell.
A data security expert, Harri Hursti, said in a declaration included with Benson’s motion, he attended the August event where a link to download an image which appeared to have originated from Antrim County was shared on social media by one of the event’s speakers — CodeMonkeyZ — who has nearly 400,000 followers.
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A December court order signed by 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer allowed for a forensic examination of the county’s voting equipment after a local man, Bill Bailey, filed a lawsuit. But the judge’s decision to allow access to voting equipment also placed controls on what could be released to the public.
Elsenheimer, responding to Benson’s motion, said that Bailey’s lawsuit — dismissed in May — had been referred to the Michigan Court of Appeals and until that court decided whether to hear the case, he was denying the motion.
“I think that frankly having a two-track process in this case is not in the best interest of the public, not in the best interest of the parties,” Elsenheimer said, following a hearing Monday morning conducted over Zoom.
“I can understand the position of the defense, but I believe that this matter should be resolved by the court of appeals before we take it back up for enforcement or any other purposes here in circuit court,” Elsenheimer said. “I look forward to the direction of the court of appeals, if any.”
Bailey is represented by Portage attorney Matthew DePerno, who on July 16 filed leave for appeal with the state court.
Also in July DePerno announced he is seeking the Republican nomination for Michigan’s attorney general.
The case is pending in the court of appeals.
Benson, who is represented by attorneys with the state’s Attorney General’s office, said in court filings that Col. James P. Waldron and Douglas Frank, two of Bailey’s expert witnesses, appeared as speakers at the symposium and that Waldron told attendees “the Antrim information” would be available. He also invited attendees to view the images.
Bailey, of Central Lake Township, sued Antrim County on Nov. 23, after he said his constitutional rights had been violated by the county’s handling of the 2020 presidential election. He asserted that the county’s Dominion Voting Systems equipment was programmed for fraud — an accusation repeatedly denied by Dominion.
Court filings show DePerno was advised of the distribution of the Antrim County images in an email sent Aug. 12 by Assistant Attorney General Erik A. Grill.
“We have received information that during an event earlier this week, Mike Lindell publicly displayed or distributed images of the Antrim County EMS software,” Grill said in the email.
The same court filing shows DePerno answered Grill, also by email, stating he’d sent Lindell a “cease and desist demand.”
“Understood and just to be clear, on Wednesday at 9:49 a.m., as soon as I heard, I sent the following cease and desist demand to Mike Lindell,” DePerno said in the email.
The demand from DePerno to Lindell stated, “This is a demand that you immediately cease and desist disclosing or displaying any forensic images of Antrim County. Those images are under protective order. Neither you or your team are permitted to display or use those images.”
DePerno did not respond to an email seeking comment.
In a declaration submitted to the court as part of Secretary Benson’s now-denied motion, Hursti said he attended Lindell’s cyber security symposium in Sioux Falls, South Dakota from Aug. 10-12 where organizers made available to attendees copies of forensic images of three Dominion Election Management System Server installations.
“The organizers did not give consistent explanations for how the images were made, where they were made, or any other details,” Hursti said. “Two of the images appear to have originated from Mesa County, Colorado and one from Antrim County, Michigan.”
According to court filings, another expert, J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor — who in March authored a 54-page report stating initial mistakes in Antrim County’s handling of the 2020 presidential election were the result of human error, not fraud — authenticated the image as from Antrim County.
“The data obtained from the ‘Cyber Symposium’ includes a nearly complete forensic image of the Antrim County Election Management System (EMS),” Halderman stated in an affidavit filed in 13th Circuit Court. “It is missing only one file (out of 37), but is otherwise a complete copy of the forensic image collected by Plaintiff’s forensic team and provided to me for review in this case.”
“The data also includes complete forensic images of the Antrim County tabulator memory cards that were provided to me for review in this case,” Halderman said. “In addition, the data distributed at the ‘Cyber Symposium’ includes forensic images of thumb drives that purport to be from Antrim County and include metadata indicating that they were collected by Plaintiff’s forensic team, but which were not provided to me for review in this case.”
Hursti and Halderman both expressed concern over the release, stating it was sufficiently detailed to assist those who might be planning or developing ways to compromise voting systems in Antrim County and elsewhere.
Dominion previously issued a lengthy statement in response to the reported public release of court-protected images, stating they’d reported the incident to the proper authorities, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Also on Monday Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a press release, stating three Michigan residents had been charged following investigations related to attempted voter fraud.
Trenae Myesha Rainey, 28, of Macomb County, Carless Clark, 59, of Wayne County and Nancy Juanita Williams, 55, also of Wayne County were each charged with multiple felony counts of violating election law.
Rainey, a nursing home employee, is accused of deciding where approximately two dozen nursing home residents should be registered, whether they should be provided with an absentee ballot and of forging their signatures, the release states.
Clark is accused of signing her grandson’s absentee ballot and returning the ballot by mail.
Williams, a court-appointed guardian, is accused of multiple felony violations in five downstate district courts, after the release states a Michigan State Police investigation found she submitted absentee ballot applications for people under her care without their knowledge.