photo of Dan Bongino (l) photo of Charlie Kirk (m) photo of Tucker Carlson (r)

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Plot to overturn Arizona election for Trump included politicians, conspiracists, and conservative media

Revealed messages reference 'backchannel' conversations with Tucker Carlson, Charlie Kirk, Dan Bongino, and Sean Hannity.


Claire Goforth


Posted on Jan 24, 2022   Updated on Jan 31, 2022, 10:39 am CST

Documents obtained about the effort to overturn Arizona’s 2020 election reveal the astonishing breadth of the plan and its participants. Those involved range from fringe conspiracy theorists to prominent politicians and titans of conservative media. There doesn’t appear to have been a detail too small for the attention of the coalition involved.

Messages obtained by American Oversight exhaustively plan when, how, and who to inform about the election audit that was ultimately conducted by Cyber Ninjas. Some specifically suggested giving Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, and Charlie Kirk advance notice to control the narrative.

American Oversight is a nonpartisan watchdog group that seeks and publishes documents from government agencies. It has ongoing work in several states, including Arizona, to uncover more information about efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

It’s unknown whether any of the high profile right-wing men were ultimately contacted by the group endeavoring to give Arizona to former President Donald Trump, who lost the state. But all four spent months sowing doubt about the 2020 election, including in Arizona.

Messages unearthed by Twitter user @DempseyTwo from a “Jake” discuss plans to “backchannel” with Hannity and others.

Last spring, Jake wrote to an unidentified person: “Give me an advanced heads up so I can backchannel with Sean [Hannity]” regarding an upcoming press conference.

The following day, Jake asked for an electronic copy of something to send to Carlson, Hannity, Bongino, and Kirk.

“We have to control the narrative or we lose,” Jake wrote in a subsequent message.

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American Oversight

It’s not certain who Jake is. Some speculate that it’s Arizona state Rep. Jake Hoffman (R).

Hoffman didn’t respond to request for comment sent Monday afternoon via his office’s contact form on the Arizona legislature website.

Hoffman was among the signatories of fake election certification documents that falsely claimed Trump had won Arizona in 2020. He also has a longstanding relationship with Kirk and a history of election meddling.

AlterNet reports that Hoffman was contracted by Turning Point Action, a sister organization to Kirk’s Turning Point USA, to run a “troll farm” promoting pro-Trump propaganda during the 2020 election. Hoffman’s company, Rally Forge, also posed as a leftist group on Facebook during the 2018 election in an effort to divide liberals, the Guardian reports.

Records show that numerous Arizona Republican representatives were communicating behind the scenes about the audit last year.

Communications obtained by American Oversight purportedly show Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) asking when the audit was going to start. In a message from March 15, 2021, a person that’s reportedly Gosar said he was speaking to Women of AZ later on and wanted to update them on the effort.

“I hope everything is moving along; do you need anything from me?” reads a text that’s signed with Gosar’s name.

Women of AZ’s Facebook page shows that Gosar was scheduled to speak to the group that night.

Gosar’s office didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

Two weeks later, Gosar reportedly followed up to inquire about whether they had a timetable for when the audit would start. Told that it could begin as soon as the following week, he replied, “Great! Please keep me posted Karen and let me know if there is anything I can help you with.”

The Arizona state senate hired Cyber Ninjas. Sen. Karen Fann, a Republican, is president of that body.

Fann didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment sent via her website.

Other texts provided to American Oversight discuss social media strategies and complaints. There are messages bemoaning that Jovan Hutton Pulitzer’s tweets and YouTube videos are complicating the effort to select a firm to do the audit.

In a July 27 message to a person whose first name matches that of a member of the communications team for the Arizona state senate, a person who appears to be Fann asks whether the Twitter accounts for “AZ war room” and “AZ Audit” are still suspended.

After some back-and-forth about the difference between a Twitter account and a hashtag, they conclude that the accounts were still suspended.

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American Oversight

These communications and strategies appear to have been designed to implement the overarching goal of keeping Trump in office in spite of his losing the 2020 election.

On Monday, Rolling Stone reported that documents obtained by American Oversight show that key figures involved in Trump’s effort to remain in power were part of the plot to change Arizona’s election outcome.

The plan hatched in Trump world was simple: scan mail-in and absentee ballots, remove “invalid votes” in Maricopa County, then recertify the election without them to deliver the state to Trump.

Rolling Stone reports that Trump’s team hatched this plan in December 2020. They, along with “a group of fringe election sleuths,” proceeded to press state legislators to change the vote count. Meanwhile, an effort was ongoing to blanket right-wing media with false claims about election fraud.

“But while the Trump campaign knew about this plotting, it was the obscure investigators and researchers, the emails show, who made the case directly to Arizona legislators about how to find supposed fraud and potentially use that evidence to challenge the outcome,” Rolling Stone reports.

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*First Published: Jan 24, 2022, 4:22 pm CST