Meet the familiar faces who went from boosting 2020 election conspiracies to hyping the Arizona audit

Meet the familiar faces who went from boosting 2020 election conspiracies to hyping the Arizona audit

Although the 2020 election wasn't the across-the-board annihilation of Republicans that many Democrats were hoping for — the Democratic majority shrunk in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Democrats were disappointed that Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis and other GOP senators they hoped to unseat were reelected — it was most certainly a decisive victory for President Joe Biden, who won 306 electoral votes and defeated former President Donald Trump by more than 7 million in the popular vote. Regardless, Trump and his cult-like sycophants continue to push the debunked conspiracy theory that he was the real winner and was robbed of a victory because of widespread voter fraud. And journalist Will Steakin, in an article published by ABC News' website on May 17, reports that some of the same Trump supporters who pushed nonsense election conspiracy theories in 2020 are now pushing the GOP election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona.

After Biden defeated Trump in Arizona, there was more than one bipartisan recount — and those recounts confirmed what conservative Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said and what right-wing Fox News' 2020 Election Night decision desk said: Biden won Arizona. But the current Maricopa County audit, ordered by Republicans in the Arizona State Senate and conducted by the Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas, is not bipartisan in any way. And it is the work of far-right conspiracy theorists who continue to push the Big Lie.

"In the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election," Steakin explains, "a sprawling collection of Trump loyalists, fueled by a host of baseless conspiracies involving disproven claims of widespread voter fraud, failed over and over again to overturn the election results in the courts. And while the effort resulted in dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits, many of the same Trump supporters — from a former CEO to longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon — have reemerged as key forces boosting the Republican-backed Arizona audit of the 2020 election results. The audit, which comes after two previous audits found no evidence of fraud sufficient to invalidate President Joe Biden's victory in Arizona and Maricopa County, has not only commandeered the attention of the MAGA movement, but also, of Trump himself, who has continued to push false claims that the 2020 election was stolen."

The former Overstock CEO that Steakin refers to is Patrick Byrne, who has been aggressively fundraising from the audit and claims to have raised $2.8 million. And Byrne, Steakin notes, "claims to have donated at least $500,000 of his own money to fund the audit."

Another far-right GOP conspiracy theorist who has been promoting the Maricopa County audit farce is attorney Lin Wood, who encouraged Trump to declare martial law following the 2020 election. Wood is an ally of Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan, another far-right Trumpista who pushed the Big Lie following the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, Bannon — former White House chief strategist in the Trump Administration and ex-chairman of Breitbart News — has been promoting the Maricopa County audit on his "War Room" podcast, where he has claimed that the audit "is going to lead to Georgia, and it's going to lead to Michigan."

Steven Slugocki, former chairman of the Maricopa County Democratic Party, has slammed the audit as a farce but stressed that it is a profitable farce. Slugocki told ABC News, "There are some people that are making a lot of money on this — and unfortunately, it's coming at the cost of our elections. They don't have Donald Trump anymore to lead them on social media; they're looking for content, they're looking for ways to engage the people who believe this election was stolen, and they're raising money off of it. It's turned into even more of a circus than anybody could have imagine."


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