Months after President Joe Biden's inauguration, former President Donald Trump's election lies continue to have devastating effects on the public's faith in American elections.
With the exception of a deadly failed insurrection and a wave of voter suppression legislation across the country, one of the most devastating effects has manifested in Maricopa County, Arizona after Republicans forced yet another audit of the county's ballots.
From the start, the audit has been marred by shadiness and partisanship. It's headed by Cyber Ninjas—a firm with no elections experience whose top executive promoted election conspiracies on social media. At least one Capitol rioter was seen among those examining the ballots. One official said they were examining ballots for bamboo fibers, based on a conspiracy theory that ballots were somehow shipped in from Asia.
Another controversial subject regarding the audit is its funding. One on-air personality for far-right disinformation Newsmax, Christina Bobb, established a nonprofit in order to help with funds. Further examinations showed a number of far-right groups also chipping in.
If all that weren't shady enough, texts reveal that former President Donald Trump himself may have smuggled money to the audit examining his own election.
The Arizona Capitol Times reported:
"In an April text exchange with audit spokesman Randy Pullen, Trump campaign official and former Arizona state treasurer Jeff DeWit offered to send $175,000 to the Guardian Defense Fund, a dark-money fund run by Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, where Pullen serves as treasurer. A dark-money fund is not required to disclose its funders. Finchem is also running for secretary of state."
According to the report, DeWit asked Pullen about a second dark money fund backing the audit, texting:
"So they are ok to donate to? Trump asking"
After scrutiny of the messages, DeWit claims he was talking about the Trump orbit in general, and not the former President.
It's unconfirmed whether Trump actually funneled money into the audit, but the texts have people crying foul.
Others don't believe he paid the audit officials—but not for reasons that would flatter Trump.
The Cyber Ninjas' report has been delayed after a number of officials tested positive for COVID-19.