Conan Hayes may not be a household name, but the surf wear clothing brand he started, RVCA, may be recognizable to many.
The former professional surfer made millions from the company before selling it to the larger apparel company Billabong, but lately he has been focused on something entirely different: proving Donald Trump's 2020 election loss was fraudulent.
The author of an anonymous Twitter account that has been called a “superspreader of election disinformation," Hayes is part of a web of people connected to election fraud claims across the country that include Michigan, Colorado and Arizona. The connections he has include a who's who of players in Arizona's self-styled election “audit," including the man leading the effort, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan.
Who exactly is Hayes and what are his connections to the Arizona election review?
Antrim County, Mich.
Before the Arizona Senate decided to begin its review of ballots, Michigan lawyer Matthew DePerno was working to gather alleged evidence of election fraud in Antrim County, a small county in northwest Michigan that Trump won easily.
Antrim County quickly became a focal point for election fraud claims on election night because of an initial reporting error of unofficial results that was soon corrected. The mistake by an election worker, led to election fraud conspiracy theorists descending upon the state and accusing Dominion Voting Systems, the company that made Antrim's election machines, of switching votes.
Maricopa County, the focus of the Arizona Senate's “audit," also uses Dominion machines.
DePerno has been a key player in pushing debunked election fraud claims about Antrim and has continued to fight for them in court, despite them being thrown out multiple times. In those court filings, DePerno claimed both Logan and Hayes were “expert witnesses" who could support his fraud claims.
The surfer and former clothing company owner was listed as an expert on “application security, systems, process, generally accepted programming practices, standards of care, as it relates to application development of sensitive systems."
DePerno would later go on to say that Hayes contributed to a flawed and debunked report by the company Allied Security Operations Group alleging fraud in Antrim by gathering “forensic information." The report confused Minnesota precincts with Michigan precincts, among many other errors.
ASOG was almost hired by the Arizona Senate to conduct the “audit." Its principal, Phil Waldron, has continued to spread baseless lies about the election, appearing at a Cyber Symposium last month that promised to provide proof of election fraud, but utterly failed.
Mesa County, Colo.
The Cyber Symposium was the brainchild of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who guaranteed that it would prove that the presidential election was “hacked" to ensure Trump lost.
During the event, election conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins — who is suspected of being behind the dangerous QAnon movement — discussed files he had obtained from Mesa County, Colo., that Watkins claimed to show evidence of election fraud.
Those documents were given to Watkins by Hayes.
But the files were apparently stolen from the county, possibly with the knowledge of Tina Peters, the elected Republican county recorder who has promoted election fraud theories. Her whereabouts remain to be a mystery; she remains under a criminal federal investigation but she claims to be “working remotely."
Peters allegedly turned off security cameras and allowed a person in to get the data using the name Gerard Wood.
Watkins said during the event he was “unsure" if Hayes had permission to share the files publicly or not. Researchers and experts who looked at the Mesa County files noticed Hayes's initials in the file, indicating that he downloaded the data to his own computer.
The voting machines in Mesa County have been banned from being used because of the data breach, and election and security experts are concerned about Dominion Voting software that was released during the Cyber Symposium, as well.
One of the right-wing organizations that bankrolled DePerno's failed litigation in Michigan, Election Integrity Funds for the American Republic, has paid at least $280,000 to fund the Arizona “audit."
Cyber Ninjas refused to answer questions from the Arizona Mirror about whether Hayes was involved in the “audit," as either a paid contractor or a volunteer.
It is not entirely clear what Hayes' role is in Arizona's “audit" if any, however, if he has a role it could be similar to what he did when working with ASOG. On his now-defunct Twitter, Hayes shared images of voter rolls from Michigan prior to the release of the ASOG report with his own analysis.
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