A draft audit report circulated on Gateway Pundit and other conservative blogs that called for decertification of Maricopa County’s 2020 general election results is a fake, a Senate audit official confirmed.
The draft in question is similar to drafts obtained by the Capitol Times and other Arizona media outlets the night before the audit presentation last week but includes several deviations from those drafts, including a statement advocating for election decertification in the executive summary – language that also did not appear in the final report presented by Cyber Ninjas to Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, and state Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert.
The draft – published alongside a Gateway Pundit article titled “Arizona Audit Final Report Was Watered Down” – includes the line “based on these factual findings, the election should not be certified, and the reported results are not reliable.”
“This is a fake document,” Senate audit liaison Randy Pullen said in a text message.
Pullen, former Republican Party of Arizona chairman, said “there was never a discussion about decertifying.”
The fake draft is already making the rounds amongst audit supporters who believe the final report – which included no claims of election fraud and only called for election reforms, not decertification – didn’t go far enough.
Michigan Attorney Matthew DePerno, the lawyer behind a failed lawsuit alleging fraud in Antrim County, was one of the first individuals to circulate news of the draft on Twitter on Saturday.
“I have been told that Arizona attorney Cory [sic] Langhofer suppressed critical information from the audit report, including the statement that the election must be decertified,” DePerno posted, referring to Kory Langhofer, the Senate’s attorney.
Langhofer declined to comment. “I am not at liberty to comment on that because it’s privileged,” he said.
DePerno, who is running for Attorney General in Michigan, later shared a link to a post on the conservative blog Becker News that shares the same draft published by Gateway Pundit.
DePerno is no fringe player in pro-audit circles. Former President Donald Trump recently endorsed his candidacy for Michigan attorney general and Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, cited a memo he wrote to justify her argument that the legislatures have the authority to decertify national elections.
It appears none of the websites that published the fake draft performed a basic fact check on the document before publishing, because Pullen, the Senate liasion, was not aware of the its existence before being contacted by the Capitol Times.
“There is no alternative report. Where is that coming from”? he asked. Pullen later reviewed the draft and confirmed it was a fake.
Cyber Ninjas issued a statement today to the same effect, stating
In a written statement issued today, Cyber Ninjas said auditors do not know the origins of the fake draft. “But it was not written by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, nor was it in any version that was ever sent or shown to the Senate review,” the group said. The Cyber Ninjas also dispelled rumors circulated by some audit supporters on social media alleging that Senate attorney Kory Langhofer “suppressed” information about decertification and removed it from the final report. “This false version claims to be an earlier version of the Cyber Ninjas Executive Summary, but because of supposed threats from the Senate, it was not used. This is absolutely false,” the group said.
Kyra Haas contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: This story has been revised to include a statement from Cyber Ninjas.