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GOP review finds no proof Arizona election was stolen from Trump

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GOP review finds no proof Arizona election was stolen from Trump

PHOENIX (AP) — A Republican-backed review of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona’s largest county ended Friday without producing proof to support former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

After six months of searching for evidence of fraud, the firm hired by Republican lawmakers issued a report that experts described as riddled with errors, bias and flawed methodology. Still, even that partisan review came up with a vote tally that would not have altered the outcome, finding that Biden won by 360 more votes than the official results certified last year.

The finding was an embarrassing end to a widely criticized, and at times bizarre, quest to prove allegations that election officials and courts have rejected. It has no bearing on the final, certified results. Previous reviews by nonpartisan professionals that followed state law have found no significant problem with the vote count in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix.

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Still, for many critics, the conclusions reached by the firm Cyber Ninjas and presented at a hearing Friday, underscored the dangerous futility of the exercise, which has helped fuel skepticism about the validity of the 2020 election and spawned copycat audits nationwide.

“We haven’t learned anything new,” said Matt Masterson, a top U.S. election security official in the Trump administration. “What we have learned from all this is that the Ninjas were paid millions of dollars, politicians raised millions of dollars and Americans’ trust in democracy is lower.”

Other critics said the true purpose of the audit may have already succeeded. It spread complex allegations about ballot irregularities and software issues, fueling doubts about elections, said Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who oversaw the Maricopa County election office last year.

“They are trying to scare people into doubting the system is actually working,” he said. “That is their motive. They want to destroy public confidence in our systems.”

The review was authorized by the Republican-controlled state Senate, which subpoenaed the election records from Maricopa County and selected the inexperienced, pro-Trump auditors. On Friday, Senate President Karen Fann sent a letter to Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, urging him to investigate issues the report flagged. However, she noted the review found the official count matched the ballots.

“This is the most important and encouraging finding of the audit,” Fann wrote.

Trump issued statements Friday falsely claiming the results demonstrated “fraud.”

Despite being widely pilloried, the Arizona review has become a model that Trump supporters are pushing to replicate in other swing states where Biden won. Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general sued Thursday to block a GOP-issued subpoena for a wide array of election materials. In Wisconsin, a retired conservative state Supreme Court justice is leading a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 election, and this week threatened to subpoena election officials who don’t comply.

None of the reviews can change Biden’s victory, which was certified by officials in each of the swing states he won and by Congress on Jan. 6 — after Trump’s supporters, fueled by the same false charges that generated the audits, stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to prevent certification of his loss.

The Arizona report claims a number of shortcomings in election procedures and suggested the final tally still could not be relied upon. Several were challenged by election experts, while members of the Republican-led county Board of Supervisors, which oversees elections, disputed claims on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, the report is also littered with errors & faulty conclusions about how Maricopa County conducted the 2020 General Election,” county officials tweeted.

Election officials say that’s because the review team is biased, ignored the detailed vote-counting procedures in Arizona law and had no experience in the complex field of election audits.

Two of the report’s recommendations stood out because they showed its authors misunderstood election procedures — that there should be paper ballot backups and that voting machines should not be connected to the internet. All Maricopa ballots are already paper, with machines only used to tabulate the votes, and those tabulators are not connected to the internet.

The review also checked the names of voters against a commercial database, finding 23,344 reported moving before ballots went out in October. While the review suggests something improper, election officials note that voters like college students, those who own vacation homes or military members can move to temporary locations while still legally voting at the address where they are registered.

“A competent reviewer of an election would not make a claim like that,” said Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary of state in Kentucky.

The election review was run by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, whose firm has never conducted an election audit before. Logan previously worked with attorneys and Trump supporters trying to overturn the 2020 election and appeared in a film questioning the results of the contest while the ballot review was ongoing.

Logan and others involved with the review presented their findings to two Arizona senators Friday. It kicked off with Shiva Ayyadurai, a COVID-19 vaccine skeptic who claims to have invented email, presenting an analysis relying on “pattern recognition” that flagged purported anomalies in the way mail ballots were processed at the end of the election.

Maricopa County tweeted that the pattern was simply the election office following state law.

“’Anomaly’ seems to be another way of saying the Senate’s contractors don’t understand election processes,” the county posted during the testimony.

Logan followed up by acknowledging “the ballots that were provided for us to count … very accurately correlated with the official canvass.” He then continued to flag statistical discrepancies — including the voters who moved — that he said merited further investigation.

The review has a history of exploring outlandish conspiracy theories, dedicating time to checking for bamboo fibers on ballots to see if they were secretly shipped in from Asia. It’s also served as a content-generation machine for Trump’s effort to sow skepticism about his loss, pumping out misleading and out-of-context information that the former president circulates long after it’s been debunked.

In July, for example, Logan laid out a series of claims stemming from his misunderstanding of the election data he was analyzing, including that 74,000 mail ballots were recorded as received but not sent. Trump repeatedly amplified the claims. Logan had compared two databases that track different things.

Arizona’s Senate agreed to spend $150,000 on the review, plus security and facility costs. That pales in comparison to the nearly $5.7 million contributed as of late July by Trump allies.

Maricopa County’s official vote count was conducted in front of bipartisan observers, as were legally required audits meant to ensure voting machines work properly. A partial hand-count spot check found a perfect match.

Two extra post-election reviews by federally certified election experts also found no evidence that voting machines switched votes or were connected to the internet. The county Board of Supervisors commissioned the extraordinary reviews in an effort to prove to Trump backers that there were no problems.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ex-Patriot Martellus Bennett rips QB Jimmy Garoppolo, credits Dolphins’ Jacoby Brissett’s toughness on podcast | Video

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50 Colo. Time dealers, Wells are auto fame inductees

Former New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett tore into 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, saying the ex-Patriots quarterback bailed out on the Pats hours before a 2016 game against the Buffalo Bills during the four-game Tom Brady suspension that began that season.

Bennett joined Miami Dolphins defensive back Jason McCourty and his twin brother, Devin, on their Double Coverage With The McCourty Twins podcast, and, during a wide-ranging stream-of-consciousness soliloquy, had an expletive-laced screed against Garoppolo, who played in New England from 2014-17. He also spoke about current Dolphins backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who also played for the Patriots then.

Said Bennett of Garoppolo and Brissett: “Bro, we lost two games [in 2016]. One of ‘em was because Jimmy Garoppolo was being a b—- and didn’t, and tried to quit, he quit for us on the last… decided not to play right before the game. So we went out there. Jacoby came out and played with a f—ed-up thumb and gave his … played his heart out. … You can’t win with a b—- for a quarterback. … He didn’t want to come out and do anything because his agent was trying to protect his body… which I can’t fault him for that, but, like you should have made that decision on Thursday, not Sunday.”

Talking to Jason McCourty, Bennett went on to savage the Dolphins for losing to the Jaguars: “Sometimes you get these losses where it’s just kind of like, ‘Damn.’ … Just like y’all losing to Jacksonville, right. Y’all lost to Jacksonville recently. Like, losing to Jacksonville has to hurt. ‘How are we the team that loses to Jacksonville? Like, everybody else, Jacksonville has lost [sic] 30 games in a row, and we will be the ones to break the 30-game losing streak?’ Like, come on, man! Nobody wants to lose to Jacksonville.”

With the conversation often referencing the Patriots, Devin McCourty, who has been with Bill Belichick for all 12 years of his NFL career, generally remained quiet as Bennett went off, allowing current Miami Dolphin and ex-Patriot Jason McCourty — who played in New England from 2018-20 — to respond and move the discussion forward.

Bennett also colorfully critiqued Jason Garrett and John Fox, his former coaches with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears respectively. Bennett played for five teams in a 10-year NFL career from 2008-17.

©2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Virginia Beach’s Bruce Smith scared NFL quarterbacks to death. He has the tombstones to prove it.

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50 Colo. Time dealers, Wells are auto fame inductees

Bruce Smith was known for striking fear into opposing quarterbacks during his playing days in the NFL.

Now, as Halloween approaches, Smith’s neighbors can see just how many QBs he terrorized during his hall of fame career.

Inspired by a Twitter post from Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett, Smith’s friends — Paul Holley and Mike Hillier — got the idea to come up with a similar Halloween attraction.

Holley and Hillier arranged a slate of gravestones painted with the name and number of the NFL quarterbacks Smith sacked during his 15 seasons with the Buffalo Bills and four with Washington. Smith is the NFL’s all-time sack leader with 200, and 76 different quarterbacks — some many times — were his victims.

“We were playing golf with Bruce and we saw where someone had tweeted a picture of his graveyard with seven or eight tombstones of quarterbacks he had sacked,” Holley said, referring to Garrett. “I showed Bruce and asked him how many had he sacked. And he said, ‘76.’ So we said, ‘Let’s show him what a real graveyard looks like.’”

It only took a few minutes to convince Smith.

“Myles Garrett actually gave us the idea, and they thought it would be pretty cool for Halloween, for football fans, for kids to come by and take pictures and maybe get a football card or some candy,” said Smith, who played at Norfolk’s Booker T. Washington High and Virginia Tech and now lives in Virginia Beach. “You think of the number 200 sacks. And that’s just in the regular season. But then when you see the number of tombstones that have been amassed, and some of these guys I got to multiple times, then you kind of get a better picture and understanding of the career and of the accomplishments. And just an appreciation for the longevity that took place. “

Smith’s planted a who’s who of NFL quarterbacks, including Joe Montana, Steve Young, Warren Moon, John Elway and Troy Aikman.

But there is one legendary signal-caller who stood out to Smith.

“I don’t care too much for quarterbacks,” Smith said with a smile. “But for me, it was always Dan Marino. He was in the AFC East. He was the least sacked quarterback in that era because of his quick release. So it always gave me a great deal of satisfaction to get through some of those blockers and be able to get to him.”

Smith said his yard attraction couldn’t have been possible without the amazing work of artist Sam Clayman.

A lifelong Washington Football Team fan, Clayman was honored when Holley reached out to him about designing the styrofoam tombstones two weeks ago.

“I had other commitments and responsibilities throughout the week, so I had the weekends to do it,” he said. “I would wake up at 6:30 in the morning and work until I didn’t have any light left. Two very full weekends. But it was fun, though. And it was a challenge.”

Clayman said he’s used to doing paintings and clay sculptures, but this was a different challenge.

“But this was fun because it was something different outside of what I ordinarily do,” said Clayman, who also had help from Paul Ceballo. “It’s humbling. I’ve done a lot of work for some pretty high-profile talent from the area. It’s just icing on the cake when they happen to be a legend in their career.”

Larry Rubama, 757-446-2273, [email protected] Follow @LHRubama on Twitter.

©2021 The Virginian-Pilot. Visit pilotonline.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Broncos podcast: Denver, riding four-game losing skid, hosts Washington in must-win Week 8

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Broncos podcast: Denver, riding four-game losing skid, hosts Washington in must-win Week 8


Ryan O’Halloran

| Broncos reporter

Ryan O’Halloran has been covering the Broncos for The Post since 2018 and has covered the NFL since 2004. A native of North Dakota and graduate of Kansas State, O’Halloran previously covered the Washington Redskins for eight years, primarily at The Washington Times, and the Jacksonville Jaguars for six years at The Florida Times-Union. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors seven times for his work. He was named Colorado Sportswriter of the Year in 2019.

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