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Dominion Voting Systems Sues Conservative Networks, Businessman Tied To Maricopa County Election Audit

By Ben Giles
Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2021 - 11:22am
Updated: Wednesday, August 11, 2021 - 7:43am

Maricopa County ballots from the 2020 general election
Mark Henle/Arizona Republic/Pool
Maricopa County ballots from the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors hired by the Arizona Senate, June 21, 2021, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

Dominion Voting Systems, which provides voting equipment to Maricopa County and other jurisdictions across the country, sued two conservative media networks and the former CEO of Overstock.com.

The lawsuits, filed in Delaware and Washington, D.C., accuse One America News Network, Newsmax and businessman Patrick Byrne of defamation.

“OAN, Newsmax and Patrick Byrne have knowingly and continuously sold the false story of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election, with Dominion cast as the villain, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” Stephen Shackelford, legal counsel for Dominion, said in a statement. 

Each individual case seeks a minimum of $1.6 billion in damages, citing security expenses and lost business opportunities.

→ How 2 Arizona Journalists Debunked Cyber Ninjas' Claim About 74,000 Ballots

A partisan review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, ordered by Republican leaders in the state Senate, was mentioned repeatedly in the lawsuits as one of several examples of attempts by Byrne, and in particular, OAN media figures, to amplify “verifiably false lies about Dominion,” Shackelford said.

Byrne has helped bankroll the Maricopa County review through his nonprofit, the America Project, to the tune of $3.25 million. He also used the review to help film a conspiracy-riddled documentary claiming to show the election was rigged against former President Trump. 

OAN host Christina Bobb, named in the lawsuit against the conservative network, has helped raise $605,000 for the review through Voices and Votes.

“These efforts resulted in a sham ‘audit’ of the 2020 Presidential Election in Maricopa County, Arizona, generating additional fodder for OAN to use in its defamatory campaign against Dominion — with OAN given the exclusive right to broadcast the proceedings,” attorneys for Dominion wrote in their lawsuit.

As for Byrne, Dominion attorneys argue the election review in Arizona was a carbon copy of Byrne-financed attempts to sow doubts about the presidential election in Antrim County, Michigan.

→ Judge Orders Arizona Senate To Produce 2020 Audit Records; Attorney Seeks Immediate Stay

“Byrne and his collaborators set out to repeat their Michigan strategy in Arizona: find someone with zero experience in election security who has already committed to the preconceived narrative that the election was stolen, and pay them to manufacture evidence to support that conclusion,” attorneys wrote.

Dominion’s attorneys were particularly critical of Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by Senate President Karen Fann to lead the election review in Maricopa County.

The lawsuit cited past statements by CEO Doug Logan sharing conspiracy theories of election fraud, and shared criticism from election experts, Republicans and Democrats alike, of the processes and methodology used in the Senate-ordered review.

Doug Logan and Ken Bennett
Ben Giles/KJZZ
Doug Logan (left), CEO of Cyber Ninjas, and Ken Bennett (center) at the audit site at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 22, 2021.

“While the Cyber Ninjas had no previous experience conducting an official election recount and were not accredited by the United States Election Assistance Commission, they had the one qualification that mattered: they were already committed to Donald Trump and the lie that Dominion had stolen the election from him,” attorneys wrote.

Representatives for Byrne and OAN could not be reached for comment.

In a statement, Newsmax officials said they had not reviewed the lawsuit, but had “simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the president, his advisors and members of Congress. Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press.”

Senate President Karen Fann, a Prescott Republican, has repeatedly said the review was not ordered in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, though other Republican senators have touted errant claims by Cyber Ninjas as evidence the presidential election in Arizona should be decertified.

Schackelford told reporters that Dominion hasn’t ruled out lawsuits against others involved in the misinformation campaigns or the Arizona election review, including the state Senate.

“We’re taking an evidence-based look at everyone who has participated from November onward in the disinformation campaign against Dominion, and we haven’t ruled out any particular parties,” he said Tuesday morning.

Politics