Congress escalates pressure on tech firm dodging New Mexico audit probe

A tech company involved in a controversial “audit” of the 2020 presidential election is refusing to turn over the records to a congressional committee, saying it is not involved in the worst voter intimidation allegations.

But a new letter from the House Oversight Committee argues otherwise.

In January, commissioners in Otero County, New Mexico, voted to conduct a review of the county’s 2020 elections. It doesn’t matter that the county voted for Donald Trump, or that allegations of widespread voter fraud have been repeatedly refuted – the committee awarded a nearly $50,000 contract to EchoMail, which was previously involved in another discredited audit in Maricopa County, Arizona. Part of EchoMail’s audit proposal involved contracting with a conspiracy-promoting Telegram group called the New Mexico Audit Force (NMAF), which would knock on doors in Otero County and poll residents on their 2020 votes. .

NMAF canvassers were accused of misrepresenting themselves during home visits, prompting alarm from state and federal authorities and an investigation by the House Oversight Committee. The House inquiry, launched March 16, is investigating whether the Otero County audit “unlawfully interferes with Americans’ right to vote by spreading election misinformation and intimidating voters.”

Now, EchoMail is refusing to participate in Congress’s investigation, citing what Congress describes as a dubious argument.

“EchoMail does not conduct any audits in Otero County and has been engaged to provide only a data warehouse system including professional services,” EchoMail CEO Shiva Ayyadurai wrote in a response to the inquiry. of Congress. He also denied any involvement in the actions of the NMAF. (Neither he nor EchoMail immediately returned requests for comment.)

House Oversight executives are skeptical, according to a Wednesday letter to Ayyadurai. Specifically, the letter reveals that NMAF Chief Erin Clements invoked EchoMail’s name when submitting formal requests for state and local records.

“NMAF leader Erin Clements has submitted formal voter information requests to the Otero County Clerk’s Office and the State of New Mexico in which she stated that she represents EchoMail,” notes the monitoring letter. On a signed affidavit attached to this application, “Ms. Clements wrote that she ‘represented EchoMail.’

In another affidavit, Clements wrote that she was requesting voter data “on behalf of EchoMail and the New Mexico Audit Force.” The letter also notes that Clements cited EchoMail’s contract with Otero County and listed EchoMail’s address as his own when submitting requests. When requesting local voter rolls, she wrote that they would be “used for audit analysis as well as canvassing to confirm the accuracy of the rolls as commissioned by the Otero County Commission.” “.

The watch letter also highlights Ayyadurai’s long-standing ties to Clements and her husband David, who is also in charge of the audit. On January 6, 2022, Ayyadurai and David Clements appeared together on a conspiratorial webcast, where they discussed election audits and their trip to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s “cyber symposium” on alleged voter fraud.

The letter also cites a January presentation by the Clements before the Otero County Commission, in which the couple argued for the county’s contract with EchoMail. The couple described NMAF’s work with EchoMail under the proposed contract. “No distinction was made in the presentation between the proposed actions of EchoMail and NMAF,” notes the House watch letter.

The letter goes on to describe repeated instances in which the NMAF has described itself as a partner of EchoMail. It also suggests that Ayyadurai has been in contact with David Clements, who previously called for “firing squads” against people he believes facilitated voter fraud.

“The Committee also has reason to believe that you are in direct communication with Mr. Clements,” the letter read, pointing to Clements’ own claims on Telegram, in which he describes alleged conversations with Ayyadurai.

Ayyadurai is a well-known proponent of voter fraud conspiracy theories in his own right and was involved in a similar “audit” of Maricopa County following the 2020 election in Arizona. During this audit process, Ayyadurai and EchoMail made a number of quickly refuted allegations regarding alleged errors on Maricopa County ballots.

EchoMail and the NMAF have been linked in other cases not cited in House Oversight’s latest letter.

A recent draft proposal signed by the three Otero County commissioners also describes NMAF as working with EchoMail on the audit. The proposal, if passed, would have required NMAF canvassers to specify that they are not Otero County officials.

“We understand and appreciate that the New Mexico Audit Force has partnered with Echomail to provide pro bono services for the 2020 election audit led by this commission,” reads the March 10 proposal.

Commissioners ultimately voted against the proposal, saying they feared it would hamper the canvassers’ efforts.

The NMAF was also involved in the management of physical ballots during an audit process earlier this month, where the group worked alongside officials from Otero County, the Alamogordo Daily News reported. During this recount, Erin Clements described herself as “the supervisor of the process […] overseeing each staffing position.

At that event, Clements allegedly described his group as volunteering with EchoMail during the audit.

House Oversight Committee Seeks EchoMail and Ayyadurai Documents Related to Otero County Audit and Prospecting, Including Communications with Clements, NMAF, Otero County Commissioners and a series of “Stop The Steal” conspiracy theorists.

Despite EchoMail’s objections, House Oversight’s latest letter says it has not granted the company an extension to produce the documents. They are still expected on Thursday, March 31.

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