Taxpayers in New Mexico are footing the bill to conduct an audit of the vote in a border-county that Donald Trump won big.
"Otero County is a Republican stronghold in New Mexico. More than 60 percent of Otero voters cast ballots for Donald Trump in 2020, in contrast to the state’s pro-Biden majority. That hasn’t stopped some locals, chiefly an Otero County commissioner currently facing charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, from calling for an 'audit' into the county’s vote," The Daily Beast reports. "In January, the county approved a nearly $49,750 audit contract with EchoMail, a company founded by election conspiracy promoter Shiva Ayyadurai. EchoMail, in turn, says it will contract the 'New Mexico Audit Force' to conduct a 'door-to-door canvas' of county voters."
The Beast could not find government records for an organization known as the “New Mexico Audit Force," which appears to be "a Telegram group that traffics in conspiracy theories about the 2020 election."
New Mexico state Auditor Brian Colón has opened an examination into the legality of the audit.
Colón told The Beast he was examining whether "there is supporting justification for expenditures."
"That's where we get into the contemplation of whether or not this is wasteful spending, or if it is in the best interest of the citizens of Otero County," he explained.
The effort is being championed by a controversial county commissioner.
"In 2020, Colón’s office slapped the county with a risk advisory for travel expenses, after county commissioner Couy Griffin expensed a $3,237 trip to a Trump event in D.C.. Griffin, a former restaurateur and founder of the group 'Cowboys for Trump,' later repaid the county," The Beast reported. "The 2019 trip was not Griffin’s last journey to D.C.. On Jan. 6, 2021, he was filmed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, giving a speech via bullhorn to Trump fans during the attack on the building."
Federal prosecutors charged Griffin with Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building along with Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building.
Colón said Griffin's history was important context.
“We always have to consider red flags,” he explained. “Prior misconduct is going to be a red flag on any given set of future circumstances. And in this case, we know that the individual who most aggressively advanced the interest of having the county enter this contract was somebody that we have had to hold accountable in the past."
Read the full report.
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