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How an election denier’s fan club got its start in the states

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How an election denier’s fan club got its start in the states

  •  Phil Waldron at a Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing on Dec. 2, 2020.
    Screenshot via Michigan Legislature Phil Waldron at a Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing on Dec. 2, 2020.

Phil Waldron, the suddenly famous election denier behind the circulation of a PowerPoint filled with plans to overturn the 2020 election has a long history of election subversion attempts in multiple states.

Retired Army Col. Phil Waldron also has close ties to former President Donald Trump’s legal team and served as one of its key witnesses in efforts to reverse the presidential election results. 

This week, Waldron became known as the person responsible for circulating the document titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” to Trump’s allies and Republican lawmakers on the eve of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Waldron also said he met with Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in the White House “maybe eight to 10 times” after the election, the Washington Post reported. Meadows is a former North Carolina congressman who on Tuesday was found in contempt by the U.S. House for not answering questions about its Jan. 6 inquiry.

But before any of that work, Waldron was working to subvert the election by sowing doubt about electronic voting, pushing for election “audits” in the states, including Arizona, and testifying as a witness for Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in hearings in Georgia and Michigan

Giuliani repeatedly cited Waldron as the source of information in the former New York mayor’s legal filings seeking to overturn the 2020 election. Waldron’s testimony was filled with misinformation about election administration and false claims about fraud. 

Before the election, Waldron started working with Texas-based Allied Security Operations Group, a company led by cybersecurity analyst Russell James Ramsland Jr., Waldron told the Washington Post. Ramsland, a Republican businessman and failed congressional candidate, is credited as one of the leading election deniers to spread false information about the election, the Post said. 

Despite the lack of evidence behind Allied Security Operations Group’s allegations of inaccuracies in electronic voting audit logs, Republican officials called on it to advise them post-election. In February, Republican Arizona Senate President Karen Fann tapped Waldron and Allied Security Operations Group to conduct an audit of the election in Maricopa County under another company.  

After the Arizona Mirror reported on the plan to hire Waldron’s company, Fann changed course and publicly distanced herself from Waldron. Several weeks later, the Arizona Senate Republicans announced they had hired hired Cyber Ninjas to lead the audit. Text messages that were disclosed under the state’s public records law show that Fann landed on Cyber Ninjas and Doug Logan, the firm’s election-lie-promoting CEO, after Waldron endorsed them

Last December, Waldron testified before a Michigan House subcommittee at Giuliani’s request, the Detroit News reported. Waldron told lawmakers he was part of the “forensics team” responsible for a debunked report signed by Ramsland falsely claiming that election results in Antrim County, Michigan, were tabulated with a 68% error rate. 

Citing the same report, Waldron also falsely told lawmakers there were 10 Michigan precincts with 100% turnout and six precincts that recorded over 120% voter turnout. Allied Security Operations Group also mistakenly confused voting jurisdictions in Minnesota and Michigan in an analysis of voter turnout, and in a federal lawsuit inaccurately claimed that some jurisdictions in Michigan had voter turnout well over 100%, claiming turnout in one area was 782%. The firm claimed, for example that Detroit, where turnout was just under 51%, actually had turnout of 139%.

In response to his testimony, Michigan’s former elections director, Chris Thomas, tweeted, “Colonel Waldron is not up to speed on election results reporting.”

After his testimony in Michigan, Waldron continued to spread false claims on Fox News, alleging there were 17,000 dead people who cast ballots in the state. 

“Each one of those is a woeful attempt to strip rightful voters in America of their civil rights,” he said. “It’s a multifaceted attack.”

In Arizona in November 2020, Waldron, serving as a witness for Giuliani, said voting machines are “vulnerable everywhere,” falsely claimed that Arizona voting machines are connected to the internet, and stated incorrectly that signatures on mail-in ballots are not verified.  

Waldron also appears in a film about purported election fraud by Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow, and claims with no evidence that the Chinese government has access to Dominion Voting Systems’ files and that servers in Europe played a role in manipulating election results, the New York Times reported.

Despite Waldron’s history of spreading false information and his connection to the Jan. 6 PowerPoint, states continue to give him a platform. A voting panel in Louisiana tasked with replacing the state’s voting machines invited him to speak on Tuesday. 

“We’re very pleased to have him here and excited to hear what he has to say,” said Louisiana GOP Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, according to the Washington Post. Ardoin added that the audience included many members of Waldron’s “fan club.”

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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