On today's BradCast: Just when you think the joke of a post-election "audit" in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona couldn't get more absurd...it does, as the official GOP Senate Liaison for the Cyber Ninjas' super-secret, partially taxpayer-funded tally of last year's election results gets locked out of the building, threatens to quit, and now may be reinstated. Our very colorful guest today --- who much of America may now recognize --- has been inside the "audit" in Phoenix since it began in April, working side-by-side with that Liaison. He tries to help us make sense of what's really going on right now...if that's even possible. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
First up, however, some quick news out of D.C., where a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators on Wednesday reached an agreement with each other and the White House for a $1 trillion "hard" infrastructure deal, that includes some $550 billion in new spending for roads, bridges and broadband Internet. If adopted, according to AP today, it would be one of "the most significant long-term investments in nearly a century, on par with building the transcontinental railroad or the Interstate highway system."
If it's adopted along with a much larger, $3.5 trillion Democrats-only package --- including "human" infrastructure such as a broad expansion of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, child care, parental leave, the electric grid, an electric vehicle charging network and other long overdue climate-related projects --- it would be a landmark victory for President Biden and on par, according to experts, with FDR's New Deal.
Also today, the Administration will reportedly formally announce on Thursday that all civilian federal workers must either be vaccinated against COVID or be forced to submit to regular testing. The announcement comes as the Delta variant continues to spike across the nation, requiring new masking recommendations from the CDC in indoor public spaces and all K-12 public schools this fall.
Then, it's on to our guest, friend and longtime election integrity and transparency advocate, JOHN BRAKEY, Director of the Arizona-based AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us earlier this year, as the "audit" theater clown show in Maricopa County was just getting underway, after the GOP state Senate forced the County (against the wishes of its Republican-majority Board of Supervisors) to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in the Presidential election last year, along with the County's brand-new Dominion Voting Systems equipment that tallied the hand-marked paper ballots. That, so that private contractors hired by the Senate could look into an array of evidence-free conspiracy theories charging the election was stolen from Donald Trump in the state.
Brakey, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, quickly found himself serving as the right-hand man to Arizona's former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett, who had been tapped by the state Senate to serve as its Liaison and spokesperson for the hand-count and forensic audit they hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida company, to carry out, despite the contractor and their CEO, Doug Logan, having zero experience with elections, voting systems or any kind of auditing. Logan is a hard-right Republican and, before being hired by AZ, had advanced ridiculously false and evidence-free conspiracy theories on social media about the election being stolen from Trump.
For his part, Brakey joined us on the show back in April, as the "audit" (AZ's current Democratic Sec. of State describes it as a "fraudit") got underway, to offer insight into what was going on inside the Coliseum, as most of the media were locked out entirely from what would normally be a fully public process. And though, at the time, he discussed the Ninja's laughable theory that they could prove tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots were stuffed into boxes in favor of Joe Biden by examining them for signs of bamboo fibers from China, most of the nation probably first learned of Brakey when his comments about the Ninja's examining ballots for bamboo was taken out of context by a local CBS reporter and echoed all over the national media. (The reporter, CBS-Phoenix' Dennis Welch, shamefully failed to include Brakey's comments that he didn't believe any of the bamboo nonsense, when he originally released the video of Brakey discussing it.)
But, the "audit" originally set to take three or four weeks, has now taken three or months and is still underway. Late last week, however, the GOP Senate's Liaison Bennett, was summarily locked out of the building by either the Ninjas or Senate President Karen Fann, after, they claim, he shared partial results of what is now a third county-wide tally of ballots. This third count --- of ballots only, as opposed to the votes on them --- is supposed to be completely independent from the Ninjas' earlier tally, which appears to have been greatly flawed (no surprise) and reportedly fails to match the number of ballots originally reported by the County after last year's election.
Earlier today, the Arizona Republic reported that Bennett was resigning due to the conflict, and Brakey confirmed as much on today's show. However, shortly afterward, Brakey called to notify me that he had spoken to Bennett and that he and Fann met late today and struck a deal for Bennett to continue with his supposed oversight of the project. An announcement to that end should come within the next 36 hours, he tells me.
If all of that sounds like a mess, it's because it is. Brakey speaks to all of it on today's show, including being targeted as a right-winger (which he decidedly is not) and for inappropriate national ridicule after that out-of-context "bamboo" video.
He also speaks today to...
- My concerns expressed to him the last time he was on, about the absurd lack of public oversight in the Ninja's "audit", which is supposedly predicated on the need for "transparency"(!) after Trump and his supporters circulated false, evidence-free claims about the state's certified results finding that Biden defeated Trump by 10,400 votes in the state;
- Why Bennett was locked out from the "audit" last week, and whether he had actually tendered his resignation this week;
- Why a third count of ballots (after the County's official count and the Ninja's subsequent hand-count) became necessary, and whether that new count is truly independent from the Ninjas'. (It isn't, as the Ninjas' own attorney, Brakey reports, is actually working on that third count!)
- Whether recent reporting is true that the "audit" team is concerned because they now believe the data actually proves Biden won.
- How rightwing huckster Jovan Pulitzer is "a complete con-man", spreading ridiculous claims about China having "hacked the election system through the thermostat" and that "65 countries [were] involved in hacking the United States, in 6 states [and] 600 counties."
- Multiple recent false and misleading claims by Ninjas CEO Doug Logan (who Brakey refers to as Doug-anon Logan) suggesting fraud, as subsequently echoed, expanded upon and further falsified by Trump this past weekend at a rally in Phoenix, where Trump falsely claimed the Maricopa County election database was found to have been completely deleted (it wasn't); that 18,000 voters were purged from the rolls only after they voted in November (they didn't vote in November); that 74,000 mail-in ballots were falsely added to the total (they weren't); and that 168,000 ballots were printed on illegal paper, suggesting they were fraudulent (the paper was not illegal, and the ballots were not fraudulent. "None of it is illegal. It's crazy!," says Brakey. "This is what we put up with --- these authoritarian-type leaders who talk like they know something, and these people are gullible. That's why I'm there, to help them understand!)
We also discuss --- and at times disagree on --- whether this entire exercise is helpful or harmful to the overall cause of legitimate election integrity and post-election audits, as disinformed GOP dupes have coughed up millions for a giant grift in Arizona, even as they call for similar (almost certainly fruitless) "audits" of the 2020 results in states across the country.
Buckle up for today's show! It's a doozy!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)