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Shifty AZ Audit Is A ‘Model’ For Future Elections, PA Senator Tells Bannon After Tour

Talking Points Memo logo Talking Points Memo 6/3/2021 Matt Shuham
Stephen K. Bannon holding a sign © Provided by Talking Points Memo

Arizona’s politicized audit of its largest county’s 2020 election results is a “model” for other states, a Pennsylvania state senator told Trump ally Steve Bannon Wednesday after touring the Arizona operation.

“I think this is really the model, in the future, for any elections that might be in dispute,” State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) said after he took a “fact-finding mission” to Arizona with two other Pennsylvania legislators.

Mastriano also said he “absolutely” saw the Arizona audit as a model to examine the 2020 election results, and added later: “Arizona is here setting a new standard.”

The senator has long amplified Trump’s lies that the election was stolen, including by holding a hearing in November, in which Trump (by phone) complained about the long list of federal judges who’d laughed his claims out of court. Rudy Giuliani appeared in person to urge state legislators to throw out nearly 700,000 votes.

Mastriano also pushed for a review of the ballots in one Pennsylvania county, Fulton. That recount was performed by a contractor that went on to work for the Republican-authorized Arizona audit, and records suggest that the Pennsylvania work was paid for by the fringe pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell’s organization.

The Maricopa County audit has raised all sorts of red flags for experienced elections observers: It’s run by a firm with no experience in election work prior to 2020, and whose CEO pushed wild conspiracy theories about the election on Twitter and has ties to fringe Trump supporters including Lin Wood. It’s also running on anonymous donations. One election expert who observed the recount of ballots noted, “I’ve never seen one this mismanaged.”

Nonetheless, the audit has become a cause célèbre among Trump deadenders and has reportedly attracted the obsessive attention of the former president. Mastriano’s comments Wednesday hinted at yet another potential bite at the Trumpian apple in Pennsylvania.

And there are signs of potential support among Mastriano’s colleagues in the legislature: A spokesperson for the state senate’s president pro tempore, Sen. Jake Corman (R), told TPM Wednesday that “We are continuing to explore ways to improve our election systems, and we would defer any comments on the potential need for additional audits to the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity.”

“Senators Mastriano and [Cris] Dush will be welcome to share their experiences with their colleagues when they return,” the spokesperson, Jason Thompson, added.

Mastriano on Wednesday even mused about the details of a potential audit in Pennsylvania.

“If we do an audit in Pennsylvania, this is the model to use,” he told Bannon later in the former White House adviser’s program, “War Room.”

Mastriano said there were “lessons learned” in Arizona that could be applied to his own state. He mused that an audit of Pennsylvania results could focus on one Democratic and one Republican county, an approach that he said would be “obviously fair and balanced.”

When former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, a regular presence on Bannon’s show, asked about canvassing voters — an effort to find any “ghost voters, dead voters, illegal aliens,” he said — Mastriano said he couldn’t answer for legislators in Arizona.

But, he added, “if this happens in Pennsylvania, we need to have that up front.”

Plans to canvas voters in Maricopa County were actually scrapped, after the Justice Department wrote a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R), who authorized the audit, raising concerns about potential voter intimidation.

But Bannon on Wednesday cast that as a sign of guilt.

“The Justice Department, they understand where the bodies are buried here,” he said.

Tierney Sneed contributed reporting. 

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