For nearly two weeks, the now-infamous company Cyber Ninjas has been in charge of an election audit in Maricopa County, the most populous county in Arizona. The company has been criticized for the founder’s promotion of election conspiracies and for audit policies that fail to meet state standards.
However, no one seems to notice — or care — that the recount is at least partially funded by Vladimir Putin’s personal U.S. disinformation outlet, One America News Network, or that OANN is classified as a nonpartisan observer.
The pro-Trump cable channel One America News Network has started a fund-raiser to finance the venture and has been named one of the nonpartisan observers that will keep the audit on the straight and narrow.The New York Times – April 25, 2021
As recently as last month, the U.S. intelligence community recognized that One America News was a valuable tool in Russia’s arsenal for disinformation and election interference leading up to the 2020 election. The intelligence community didn’t name the network, but it didn’t have to.
(1) The report identified Ukrainian legislator Andriy Derkach as having “a prominent role in Russia’s election influence activities.” OANN employees travelled to Ukraine with Rudy Giuliani to interview Derkach for a special report on Hunter Biden and Burisma — a Kremlin disinformation campaign.
(2) Intelligence assessed that Putin’s disinformation agents “helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network.” The documentary was The Ukraine Hoax, which stars Russian asset, Trump HHS official, and Roger Stone protégé Michael Caputo. The Ukraine Hoax aired on OANN.
(3) The findings also emphasized Russia’s efforts to amplify the “stolen election” conspiracy, more commonly referred to as Stop The Steal — which was announced by Ali Alexander and Jack Posobiec in September 2020. Posobiec works for, you guessed it, One America News.
Posobiec also appears to have had a relationship with SouthFront, an obscure news website that was identified by the U.S. Treasury as a disinformation outlet operated by Russia’s FSB intelligence agency. The FSB often promoted and cited Posobiec, and he shared the agency’s content on social media.
The network’s ties to Russia don’t end there. Since 2016, new hires have been informed that “we like Russia, here,” and the company employs at least one former reporter for Sputnik — a Russian state-funded media outlet.
Assignments that [Robert Herring, the CEO of Herring Networks, OAN’s parent company] takes a special interest in are known among OAN staff as “H stories,” several current and former employees said. The day after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Herring instructed OAN employees in an email, which The New York Times reviewed, to “report all the things Antifa did yesterday.”
Some “H stories” are reported by Kristian Rouz, an OAN correspondent who had written for Sputnik, a site backed by the Russian government. In a report in May on the pandemic, Mr. Rouz said Covid-19 might have started as a “globalist conspiracy to establish sweeping population control,” one that had ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, the billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates, and “the deep state.”The New York Times – April 18, 2021
Yes, there are other red flags around the Maricopa County recount. Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan promoted election fraud conspiracies. The company’s address in 2016 is now the campaign headquarters for a Florida Republican lawmaker. Volunteers weren’t using the necessary red ink to mark ballots, meaning they could change votes if they tried. The company’s audit policies “allow counters to accept a large enough error rate to perhaps show Trump won the state.”
There’s no end to the current issues in the Arizona GOP-backed audit, but there needs to be more attention on the recount’s financial ties to OANN, a company which is incapable of being “nonpartisan” and is likely working with a foreign enemy whose influence in recent elections has been well documented.
Take the Kremlin and the conspiracies out of the network, and there’s still underreported controversy surrounding OANN’s involvement in the audit: the Trump family is invested in the network.
The New York Times – April 25, 2021 (Archived)
SPL Center – Posobiec & Russia’s FSB (Archived)
The New York Times – April 18, 2021 (Archived)
AZ Central – Doug Logan (Archived)
Twitter – Cyber Ninjas Address (Archived)
AZ Central – Red Ink (Archived)
The Washington Post – Audit Policies (Archived)
Salon – Trump investments in OANN (Archived)
Original Photo: Unknown
Illustration: Trump File