The shadowy Cyber Ninjas company hired by Arizona’s Republican Senate to head up a presidential vote recount in the state is battling in court to keep its process secret.
The Florida-based company, owned and operated by a “Stop the Steal” advocate and conspiracy theory disciple, also wants to block the public and the media from the court hearing discussing the information it seeks to block, The Arizona Republic reported Monday.
Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, a Florida resident, has already retweeted a number of messages declaring that an Arizona recount would dig up an additional 200,000 votes for Donald Trump. The final count in late November gave Biden about 10,000 more votes than Trump, according to CNN.
A secret recount would grossly undermine the validity — and the credibility — of any conclusion the company comes up with. It could also serve to destroy existing votes under cover of secrecy.
“There are people who have been looking for any reason to get their hands on all of the ballots. Now they’ve gotten their chance — and we don’t know what they’re going to do” with them, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), whose office is in charge of state elections, told The Washington Post earlier this month.
Cyber Ninjas, which has no election or ballot experience, was hired last month to head up an audit of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million general election ballots. The county includes Phoenix.
The company started the weeks-long effort Friday with no oversight. It has refused to allow the media or the public to watch the recount, which is being held at the state’s public fairgrounds in Phoenix, according to the Republic.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury asked the company Friday to provide its recount plans and procedures amid concerns about ballot security and voter privacy, the newspaper reported.
But the Cyber Ninjas argued in court Sunday that the transparency required of any American election would threaten the security of the recount in this case. It claimed in addition that the recount procedure is protected by legislative privilege since the company was hired by Senate Republicans.
It also argued that its recount process involves “protected” company trade secrets that are “clearly ... confidential,” according to the newspaper.
“Clearly the documents Cyber Ninjas has been ordered to file are Confidential Information for various reasons including that they constitute business information and ... reflect the know-how of Cyber Ninjas,” a lawyer for the company argued in the filing, the Republic reported.
In a twist in the case, Coury was forced to recuse himself Sunday night after the latest Cyber Ninjas court documents suddenly listed a new attorney working on the company’s behalf, local ABC-TV Channel 15 reported. The same attorney had once worked for the judge, posing a possible conflict of interest for Coury.
The situation is particularly troubling because Cyber Ninjas is a private operation led by an owner who has a clear political bias.
Logan has worked to spread lies that the presidential vote was rigged against Trump. He has also retweeted conspiracy theorists such as former 8chan network administrator Ron Watkins, who many believe is the creator of QAnon, and Trump’s booted national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a Twitter archive first exposed last month by The Arizona Mirror. Watkins and others Logan has retweeted baselessly claimed that an Arizona vote audit would find hundreds of thousands of new votes for Trump.
Logan has also posted disparaging statements about Dominion Voting Systems, which is suing attorney Sidney Powell and Fox News for billions of dollars for pushing the same claims of voting fraud.
Logan deleted his Twitter feed in January, but a lengthy archive remains.
“We’re going to set up a new norm where we don’t accept the outcome of elections in a free and fair and just democracy, and that is the core of what is at stake here,” Tammy Patrick, senior adviser at the Democracy Fund and a former Maricopa County elections official told The Associated Press. “I think that is incredibly, incredibly problematic.”