How an election denier’s fan club got its start in the states

Phil Waldron testified at a Michigan hearing on the 2020 election at Rudy Giuliani’s request

By: - December 16, 2021 4:50 am

Phil Waldron testifies at the Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing, Dec. 2, 2020 | Screenshot

WASHINGTON — The suddenly famous election denier behind the circulation of a PowerPoint filled with plans to overturn the 2020 election has a long history of election subversion attempts in multiple states, including Michigan.

Retired Army Col. Phil Waldron also has close ties to former President Donald Trump’s legal team and served as one of its key witnesses in efforts to reverse the presidential election results.

This week, Waldron became known as the person responsible for circulating the document titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” to Trump’s allies and Republican lawmakers on the eve of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Waldron also said he met with Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in the White House “maybe eight to 10 times” after the election, the Washington Post reported. Meadows is a former North Carolina congressman who on Tuesday was found in contempt by the U.S. House for not answering questions about its Jan. 6 inquiry.

But before any of that work, Waldron was working to subvert the election by sowing doubt about electronic voting, pushing for election “audits” in the states, including Arizona, and testifying as a witness for Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in hearings in Georgia and Michigan.

Giuliani repeatedly cited Waldron as the source of information in the former New York mayor’s legal filings seeking to overturn the 2020 election. Waldron’s testimony was filled with misinformation about election administration and false claims about fraud.

Rudy Giuliani led the Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing, Dec. 2, 2020 | Screenshot

Before the election, Waldron started working with Texas-based Allied Security Operations Group, a company led by cybersecurity analyst Russell James Ramsland Jr., Waldron told the Washington Post. Ramsland, a Republican businessman and failed congressional candidate, is credited as one of the leading election deniers to spread false information about the election, the Post said.

Despite the lack of evidence behind Allied Security Operations Group’s allegations of inaccuracies in electronic voting audit logs, Republican officials called on it to advise them post-election. In February, Republican Arizona Senate President Karen Fann tapped Waldron and Allied Security Operations Group to conduct an audit of the election in Maricopa County under another company. Arizona Senate Republicans later hired Cyber Ninjas to lead the audit.

Last December, Waldron testified before a Michigan House committee at Giuliani’s request. Waldron told lawmakers he was part of the “forensics team” responsible for a debunked report signed by Ramsland falsely claiming that election results in Antrim County were tabulated with a 68% error rate. That’s become a popular national right-wing conspiracy theory.

Citing the same report, Waldron also falsely told lawmakers there were 10 Michigan precincts with 100% turnout and six precincts that recorded over 120% voter turnout.

In response to his testimony, Michigan’s former elections director, Chris Thomas, tweeted, “Colonel Waldron is not up to speed on election results reporting.”

After his testimony in Michigan, Waldron continued to spread false claims on Fox News, alleging there were 17,000 dead people who cast ballots in the state.

The Q&A following the premiere of “The Deep Rig” at a Phoenix church. From left to right: Ann Vandersteel, Joseph Flynn, Patrick Byrne, Steve Lucescu, Phil Waldron, Joe Oltmann, Bob Hughes and Roger Richards. | Screenshot

“Each one of those is a woeful attempt to strip rightful voters in America of their civil rights,” he said. “It’s a multifaceted attack.”

In Arizona in November 2020, Waldron, serving as a witness for Giuliani, said voting machines are “vulnerable everywhere,” falsely claimed that Arizona voting machines are connected to the internet, and stated incorrectly that signatures on mail-in ballots are not verified.

Waldron also appears in a film about purported election fraud by Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow, and claims with no evidence that the Chinese government has access to Dominion Voting Systems’ files and that servers in Europe played a role in manipulating election results, the New York Times reported.

Despite Waldron’s history of spreading false information and his connection to the Jan. 6 PowerPoint, states continue to give him a platform. A voting panel in Louisiana tasked with replacing the state’s voting machines invited him to speak on Tuesday.

“We’re very pleased to have him here and excited to hear what he has to say,” said Louisiana GOP Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, according to the Washington Post. Ardoin added that the audience included many members of Waldron’s “fan club.”

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Kira Lerner
Kira Lerner

Kira Lerner is the democracy reporter for States Newsroom where she covers voting, elections, redistricting, and efforts to subvert democracy. Before joining States Newsroom, Kira was managing editor of Votebeat, a pop-up newsroom launched to cover election administration and voting before and after the 2020 election. She has also covered voting rights, criminal justice, and civil rights issues for outlets including The Appeal and ThinkProgress. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Guardian, Slate, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets. Kira has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and is a native of the Washington, D.C. area.

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