On February 23, a resident of Otero County, New Mexico, sent a concerned email to one of the county’s three commissioners.
“My neighbor was a volunteer for [children’s aid group] CASA and she recognized someone who came to her door and asked how she voted in November 2021 as someone who was either convicted or pled guilty to having sex with a child,” the Otero County resident wrote. “She is afraid. She has grandchildren to take care of. Has the county conducted background checks on volunteers who went to voters’ homes?
The email related to a then-ongoing “survey” of local voter rolls as part of an “audit” of the 2020 Otero County presidential election. As with a previous trial in Maricopa County, New Mexico, the scrutiny drew a conspiratorial crowd who had wrongly attributed Donald Trump’s loss of re-election to voter fraud. As part of the audit, a conspiracy-promoting Telegram group, the New Mexico Audit Force (NMAF), was hired to knock on locals’ doors and ask them questions about their 2020 votes and voter registrations.
A new installment of Otero County’s communications, first obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico at the request of public records, sheds light on local concerns about the home visits.
Within an hour of receiving the email, which complained about a suspected sex offender knocking on the door, the Otero County Commissioner forwarded the message to County District Attorney RB Nichols. Nichols quickly texted Erin Clements, the leader of the NMAF.
“Erin,” he wrote, “got a question from a resident. Does the Audit Force conduct background checks on volunteers?”
“No,” Clements texted back. “We do not conduct formal background checks. Ask that person to call me if they would like to discuss their concerns.”
Email records show that Nichols gave Clements’ phone number to the affected resident.
Reached by phone, Nichols told The Daily Beast that Otero County had not investigated the allegation of a convicted sex offender.
“The county’s position is that they were volunteers,” Nichols said of recruiters. “We did not oversee or conduct the acquisition. These were all volunteer efforts.”
The Daily Beast has been unable to verify the claim of a convicted child molester knocking on doors in connection with the trial. Clements did not respond to a request for comment and denied one version of the allegations in a February email to the local sheriff.
The exact nature of the NMAF’s involvement with Otero County and the audit has been a matter of debate. Emails between Clements and county officials show she and the NMAF discussed a possible audit in November 2021, during which she said the audit would likely cost the county $30,000. A December email from Couy Griffin, an audit-friendly county commissioner who was recently convicted for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, indicated he thought the county could authorize the review “if it’s under 50,000.” dollars remains”. Emails show that later that month, Clements submitted a proposal to the county for an audit led by EchoMail, a tech company that previously worked on Maricopa County’s messy audit. Her estimated cost of the exam had risen to $49,750 – just under Griffin’s $50,000 mark.
In January, Clements and her husband David made a presentation on behalf of EchoMail at an Otero County Commission meeting, where they outlined plans to rescan ballots and knock on Otero County doors. At that meeting, Nichols expressed concern that the review and vote would expose the county to legal vulnerabilities.
“I have reservations and my recommendation at this point would be not to proceed with the trial,” Nichols said at the time. He went on to cite potential problems with recruiters posing as county officials.
“Do these volunteers represent the commission when they do this?” Nichols asked the Clementses, who had stated that NMAF volunteers would do the screening. “Those are some things that we need to concretise. Because some people aren’t going to like it when someone comes to their door and asks where they’re registered to vote, how they’re registered to vote… Some people might see that as intimidating.
“I want arrests, I want prosecutions, I want firing squads.”
The current status of the canvas is bleak. EchoMail quietly withdrew from the audit in March, announcing that it found no evidence of voter fraud. EchoMail has denied a deal with the NMAF, and an EchoMail lawyer told The Daily Beast last week that EchoMail was not affiliated with David Clements.
Despite EchoMail’s finding that there was no voter fraud, at an Otero County commission meeting Monday, David Clements claimed the NMAF screen uncovered troubling discrepancies in voter rolls. (A similar “canvas” report related to the Maricopa County audit was flatly debunked.) A county official at the meeting described the Clementses “and their organization” as continuing their “canvas” efforts independently. That Alamogordo Daily News reported that the canvas was allowed to continue.
During his presentation, Clements downplayed EchoMail’s finding that there was no fraud and attributed the tech company’s withdrawal to multiple investigations into it. He traced one of those investigations by the House Oversight Committee to an earlier Daily Beast article, which he says introduced new allegations that NMAF volunteers misrepresented themselves as county employees. In fact, that article stated that the allegations were not new, but had been formally made by both the New Mexico Secretary of State and its Office of Comptrollers, the latter of which had launched its own investigation.
By this time, the New Mexico Secretary of State had received between 40 and 50 complaints about Otero County recruiters, while the state auditor had received approximately 20.
While David Clements attributed the complaints to a woman who filmed an NMAF recruiter and uploaded the interaction to TikTok, Otero County officials have voiced their own concerns that NMAF recruiters are falsely posing as county employees.
In a recent draft resolution that was never ratified, Otero’s three commissioners proposed wording that said: “We understand and appreciate that the New Mexico Audit Force has partnered with Echomail to promote volunteer services of the 2020 election audit conducted by this commission. However, we want to ensure that the NM Audit Force and its volunteers do not misrepresent themselves as county officials to Otero County residents. For the duration of your promotional efforts, we ask that your volunteers clearly identify themselves as volunteers with NM Audit Force.”
Emails checked by The Daily Beast reveal even more complaints, including claims that a pedophile was involved with the screen and a complaint from a man who said recruiters had repeatedly misrepresented themselves as county officials.
“I was visited yesterday by two Otero County Publicity Officers as they stated,” the man wrote. “You wanted to ask me a few questions. I answered my video doorbell and said I wasn’t interested and have a nice day. The Lord urged me to answer a few questions, again I explained I wasn’t interested and have a nice day. As she left, the lady said, “Did you vote, it says here you voted.” This is all on video and recording. They clearly represented themselves from Otero County Acquisition.”
The man called the interaction an act of intimidation.
Otero County residents have previously expressed concern about the distribution of their voting information to door-to-door recruiters — a concern reinforced by comments from NMAF leadership. At a recent meeting on audit efforts, David Clements announced, “I want arrests, I want prosecutions, I want firing squads,” for people found to have stolen the 2020 election.
The NMAF was already aware of such complaints in February. That’s when Nichols escalated the alleged sex offender complaint to Erin Clements. At that point, Clements also filed a complaint with the local sheriff, accusing one complainant (the TikTok user) of inciting threats against her. As evidence, Clements added the TikTok footage and voicemails she received from aggrieved locals.
A sergeant reviewing the case disagreed with Clements’ description. “I could not find any specific threat in those voicemails that was aimed directly at Mrs. Clements,” the sergeant wrote in a police report, adding that the TikTok video contained no call for Clements to be harassed. “[I] believe they all acted independently of each other,” the sergeant concluded.
The attached voicemails reveal more complaints about the screen from locals.
“What the hell do you do with people’s personal information?” said one woman in a voicemail verified by The Daily Beast. “Signature cards and such. As far as I know, you’re a sex offender!”
The NMAF is also not the first conservative advertising group to file complaints about alleged inappropriateness towards children. In an internal handbook, the Colorado-based conspiracy group US Election Integrity Project previously revealed an apparent penchant for attracting predators. In the manual, first reported by the Colorado Times RecorderUSEIP said it conducted basic social media checks but that offensive characters slipped through the cracks.
“This process was ongoing for many months until we learned (colloquially) that there were a few people in our group who had volunteered for our events and had a criminal history of sexual misconduct,” the USEIP report states. Manual. “Because our events are always open to people bringing their kids, we couldn’t remain so relaxed in our approach […] It is unfortunate that we have to screen volunteers for pedophilic tendencies, but welcome to 2021.”
It’s unclear if the NMAF conducted its own background checks after receiving complaints in late February.
In a separate email to the sheriff in late February, Clements said she received a call from a woman who complained about a known predator involved with the screen.
“She claimed that one day a friend of hers answered the door and a known pedophile showed up at her door – presumably alone,” Clements wrote. “I asked for the name of this pedophile. It wasn’t one of our volunteers. I suspect she’s making up the whole story, but I knew that person wasn’t working with us.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/maga-audit-shrugged-off-complaint-about-doorknocking-pedophile?source=articles&via=rss MAGA ‘Audit’ shrugged off door knocker pedophile complaint