‘Policeman’ ‘New Mexico Auditor Force’ Plays as County Workers, State Auditor Says
The leaders of a far-right Telegram group pledge that their members will not misrepresent themselves as district employees when they knocked door-to-door in Otero County, New Mexico for a “picture” of the local voter rolls. But just weeks later, state officials said members of the group were misrepresenting themselves — and possibly prompting the county to sue.
Otero County is a solidly Republican county, with more than 60 percent of residents voting for Donald Trump in 2020. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud there, or anywhere else in the country. USA. However, Otero commissioners spent nearly $50,000 on an “audit” of their county’s 2020 election by EchoMail, a conspiracy peddler that assisted in carrying out an investigation. Chaotic audit in Maricopa County, Arizona. In turn, EchoMail contracted the “New Mexico Audit Force” or NMAF, a Telegram group that regularly promotes election conspiracy theories, to knock on Otero County doors and ask residents about their votes.
Now, state officials say the NMAF is misrepresenting its members as county employees while “covering” local households, raising potential concerns. about civil rights.
Otero County approved the contract with EchoMail in January. The company’s history, founded by conspiracy promoter Shiva Ayyadurai, has raised alarm bells among election watchers, and prompted an investigation by Brian Colón, the country’s state auditor. New Mexico.
The investigation revealed additional red flags. “Our investigation appears to have found that the commissioners may have put their personal interests above the public good,” Colón told The Daily Beast.
On Monday, Colón’s office sent a letter to three Otero County commissioners, noting “potential violations” surrounding the audit.
“[T]His county lacks the capacity to properly monitor compliance with contractual agreements and furthermore lacks appropriate oversight policies for contract compliance,” Colón’s office alleges in the letter, continuing. suggests that the audit is more than just a political theater.
“Additionally, from our assessment, it appears that the County Commissioners may have abused their power in approving the County contract with a supplier for an ‘election audit. in the best interest of the voters and apparently purely political minded. The stated purpose and methodology of the ‘audit’ renders the whole case simply a careless and extravagant waste of public funds that does not appear to have served any useful purpose to the public. Otero County taxpayers. “
The letter follows a rebuke earlier this month from New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who called the group’s efforts there a “conservative audit”. None of Otero’s three county commissioners returned The Daily Beast’s request for comment on the letter or its allegations.
The letter addressed the specific problem with NMAF’s efforts to “cover” local households. The NMAF campaign involves door-to-door knocking and asking people for information about their household and how they vote. The NMAF is not an amalgamation, but rather a group on the Telegram messaging platform, where its leaders regularly promote conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
However, Otero County has signed a contract stating that “the canvas will be staffed voluntarily under the direction of the New Mexico Auditor Force (‘Volunteers’) with guidance from EchoMail.”
Otero County, EchoMail and NMAF did not respond to questions about the impossible arrangement.
During the county board meeting in January, Otero’s district attorney raised concerns that knockers on NMAF doors could threaten locals, potentially dragging the county into legal trouble. Erin Clements, an NMAF leader, responded that “we would introduce ourselves as the ‘New Mexico Audit Force’ and make no mention of the county at all.”
But some NMAF volunteers are deviating from that scenario, Colón’s office alleges.
“[A]Additional concerns brought to our attention indicate that it appears that contractor-directed volunteer intercessors are misrepresenting themselves as employment of the County,” his letter said. Write. “OSA [Office of the State Auditor] has concerns about potential liability to the County in connection with its citizens’ alleged civil rights violations. “
Some interactions have resulted in complaints. Otero County officials received between 40 and 50 calls about the audit, while the New Mexico Secretary of State received about 20 calls, Albuquerque Paper report in the first day of this month.
A woman in Otero County went viral on TikTok after she recorded her interactions with NMAF sweepers who visited her home late last month.
“We are Otero County Commission volunteers,” an NMAF tester says in the clip.
“Are you working for the Otero County Commission?” TikToker asked.
“Uh-huh, and we were just checking that—”
“You represent our commissioners?”
“Yes, as a volunteer,” said the canvasser.
The TikTok user, who did not return a request for comment, later described the knocking as “a form of voter intimidation”.
David Clements, another NMAF leader, has previously encouraged passersby to use a similar line. In a February video about digging, he used the example of a volunteer who, “if he was in Otero County, would say ‘I’m a volunteer supporting Otero County who [which] recently did an audit of our elections including the voter rolls. Could you have a few minutes to verify the information on the ballot rolls for this address? ‘”
David Clements, a prominent 2020 election curator, has previously called for the deaths of those he believes are traitors. In January, at a time when Otero County had signed EchoMail and Clements was speaking at a county committee meeting, he authored numerous Telegram posts calling for teams to fire and hang. “when treason was committed. ”
At moment later, in a speech at a church about the audithe stated that “I want arrest, I want prosecution, I want the team fired.”
Meanwhile, the NMAF also participated in the recount of ballots that David Clements said was “the will of the Otero County community,” the Alamogordo Daily News last week’s report. The group is also raising funds from the audit, raising money through a website run by pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood. In February, David Clements announced that the fundraiser had raised more than $20,000 and that it was raising $100,000.
Colón, the state auditor, said the fencer’s behavior has exposed the county to potential legal actions from residents.
“If you don’t have the proper training, if you have volunteers and you don’t have railings protecting their behavior and engagement with the public, then you put the county at risk,” he said. “Litigation risk and that means Otero County taxpayer resources are in jeopardy if any wrongdoing is found.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/vigilante-new-mexico-audit-force-posing-as-county-workers-says-state-auditor?source=articles&via=rss ‘Policeman’ ‘New Mexico Auditor Force’ Plays as County Workers, State Auditor Says