A Michigan judge ruled that the state’s election officials must release communications with Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google as part of a lawsuit filed in Antrim County dealing with Dominion Voting Systems machines.
Antrim County Circuit Judge Kevin A. Elsenheimer told the Bureau of Elections and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to turn over the records after they were requested by Matthew DePerno in one of the last remaining election-related lawsuits after President Biden’s inauguration. Elsenheimer also ordered the officials to turn over any communications with Dominion as part of the ruling.
Elsenheimer gave Benson’s office a Tuesday deadline to turn over the records when he filed the order late last month, although he agreed to extend the deadline to this coming Monday.
The extent of possible communications with Apple, Amazon, and Google is not clear, nor is what DePerno seeks by requesting the records. Facebook and elections officials do have some ties. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, used their charity group, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, through the nonprofit organization Center for Technology and Civic Life, to send some $400 million to counties and localities prior to the Nov. 3 election.
Although the Center for Technology and Civic Life provided hundreds of grants across the country, MLive reported that none were given to Antrim County, where the lawsuit is targeting voting machines.
A filing by DePerno alleged that Benson’s office “has refused to produce any information regarding money spent by the state of Michigan or money spent on ballot drop-boxes (i.e. Zucker-boxes).” It added that Benson “had funds available to her to spend on training counties on how to use Dominion Voting System.”
“It is plaintiff’s understanding that (Benson) chose to spend zero dollars on training,” the Jan. 4 motion continued. “Instead, she spent money and resources installing so-called Zucker-boxes throughout Michigan, including Wayne County, Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Muskegon, Pontiac and Saginaw, in conjunction with Facebook, Dominion, Center for Tech and Civic Life, Google, Amazon and Apple.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to Benson’s office for comment on Wednesday about Elsenheimer’s order to release any communications with the Big Tech companies but did not immediately receive a response.
The Antrim County election grabbed national attention when about 6,000 votes were inadvertently tabulated in favor of Biden when they were supposed to be tallied for former President Donald Trump. The matter was quickly resolved and later attributed to human error rather than that of Dominion Voting Systems. Despite the error, the lawsuit itself, which was brought by county resident William Bailey, is challenging a local marijuana retailer proposal that passed by a slim margin after votes were retabulated without factoring in three damaged ballots.
Bailey’s attorney, DePerno, brought in the Allied Security Operations Group, a Dallas-based cybersecurity firm, to conduct a judge-approved audit of the Dominion voting machines. ASOG concluded in its report that Dominion machines were “intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results,” a conclusion that was roundly rejected by Dominion CEO John Poulos, who testified under oath that the report was “categorically false” and was released by a “biased group.”
The office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who intervened in the case on behalf of Benson, branded ASOG a “partisan” group and said its report was “filled with errors and clear bias.”
“Oftentimes, a party will hire an expert witness to support the conclusion that the party wants or needs to reach. It’s why we give the other parties in a lawsuit a chance to depose the expert and challenge their qualifications in court,” Nessel said in a December statement. “Anyone can have an opinion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the opinion is based on fact or science.”
DePerno was hit with a cease-and-desist letter from Dominion, while Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump-aligned lawyer Sidney Powell are now facing $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits filed by Dominion because of their election fraud claims.
Last week, DePerno released an “expert witness list” after Elsenheimer ruled that the names of the so-called “forensic investigators” could be released. The list released by the plaintiff includes five names, along with what each person is expected to testify about. Included in the list are Russell Ramsland, James Wadron, and Doug Logan in addition to Greg Feemyer and Paul Maggio of Atlanta-based data security company Sullivan Strickler.
Nessel’s office told the Washington Examiner that Katherine Friess, C. James Hayes, and Todd B. Sanders have also been identified by defense counsel as additional members of the forensic team. In addition, the office pointed to Jennifer Jackson and Karuna Naik, both of Sullivan Strickler.
The Antrim County case was one of the dozens of mostly unsuccessful legal challenges filed in the wake of Biden’s win against Trump in the Nov. 3 contest. Trump and his allies unsuccessfully tried to overturn Biden’s win in key battleground states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. The events culminated in Congress certifying Biden’s win in the early morning hours of Jan. 7 following a violent siege of the U.S. Capitol the day before that led to the deaths of five people.
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