Baseless Republican attacks on Dominion Voting Systems may come back to bite major Donald Trump supporters in the wallet. That's because the company appears to be losing significant business in jurisdictions where Republicans control decisions about which vendors will supply voting equipment.
To collect damages the company must show that it suffered financial harm. In that regard, various elected Republicans around the country are helping Dominion make its case as the defendants' lies about Dominion machines are causing it to lose millions of dollars of business.
In separate lawsuits, Dominion is seeking actual damages of $1.6 billion from Fox News, and $1.3 billion each from Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and the My Pillow Guy, Mike Lindell. It is also seeking punitive damages.
Republicans around the country are helping Dominion make its case as the defendants' lies about Dominion machines are causing it to lose millions of dollars of business.
The individuals Dominion is suing stood at the center of the "Stop the Steal" movement and fed the narrative. Fox News amplified this manufactured storyline.
And Republicans around the country listened. GOP state legislators and election officials country are taking actions that will cost Dominion dearly.
Louisiana: Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin planned to replace outdated voting machines by purchasing $100 million worth of new voting equipment. Dominion was one of three bidders. In March, Republican state lawmakers sought oversight and public hearings on the contract after being besieged with calls from constituents demanding the state not hire Dominion.
New Orleans conservative radio host Jeff Crouere ran an ad urging people to call Ardoin at his office. "Tell Kyle we don't want a Dominion voting machine lawsuit here like they had in Georgia," Crouere said in the spot, "Call Kyle and tell him to get honest voting machines."
The state then shelved plans to purchase new voting machines altogether. Instead, the Sec. Ardoin embarked on a campaign to dispel misinformation about the state's Dominion voting machines, which it has used for years. Before canceling the new equipment purchase, Ardoin confirmed the state's history with Dominion was positive, "While our current election-day voting machines has served Louisiana well," he then attributed the cancelation to disinformation. "I am withdrawing the RFP to spend the next few months seeking to undo the damage to voter confidence done by those who willfully spread misinformation and disinformation," Ardoin said. He followed up by saying "I think unfortunately those folks who are rooted deep in conspiracy theories may not accept what we provide to them."
Michigan: Austin Chenge, a Republican businessman running to oust Gretchen Whitmer from the Governor's mansion in 2022, promised that on "day one" if elected he'd cancel contracts with Dominion. Chenge told the Detroit newspaper Metro Times, "the most important reason for canceling this contract is to restore voter confidence in our elections."
Arizona: Republican State Sen. Karen Fann, the Senate leader, is still running a crusade to find fraud connected to Dominion. State election officials undertook the audits as required by law. Maricopa County (Phoenix), the state's largest, then undertook two further forensic examinations of machines that Fann's office sent representatives to observe. Again, nothing amiss was found, but that hasn't stopped Fann.
On March 31, Fann selected a Florida company called Cyber Ninjas to examine the 2020 general election in Maricopa County. Maricopa is home to more than half of Arizonans and with almost 4.5 million people. It used Dominion voting machines in 2020.
CyberNinjas founder Doug Logan is a prominent advocate of "Stop the Steal," making him hardly an unbiased auditor of vote results. Logan retweeted posts such as, "if you can't see the blatant cheating, malfeasance and outright voter fraud, then you are ignorant or lying," and "I'm tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it's real, and people better get wise fast."
Sen. Fann has said the inquiry by Logan's firm will be bipartisan but has not cited any Democrats or Biden supporters who will be involved.
After Dominion filed its lawsuits CyberNinjas deleted tweets in which its founder pushed the same conspiracies that Fox News and Trump's legal team were peddling.
This is not the first audit Logan was involved in. He sought to overturn election results in a Michigan county that used Dominion machines.
Logan is listed in court documents as an expert witness in an election fraud case in Antrim County, Mich. Logan and others submitted a 23-page report alleging that Dominion "is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results."
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a joint statement calling the report "another in a long stream of misguided, vague and dubious assertions designed to erode public confidence in the November presidential election."
Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, a Republican, said she was saddened by the efforts to discredit the Dominion equipment. "I did read the report and find that there are many misleading statements that are simply not accurate," Guy said.
Colorado: Sixty-two of the state's 64 counties used Dominion machines. A state-mandated audit of election results didn't find any irregularities.
Despite that, seven Republican lawmakers requested that the Democratic Speaker of the House form a special committee on election integrity. Shortly thereafter, the legislature held a hearing on Dominion technology and found no evidence of miscounting.
Another Colorado Republican, the elected supervisor of voting in El Paso County Chuck Broerman, defended using Dominion equipment. "We are considered the gold standard. Everybody wants to be like Colorado. And that goes from the execution of our elections to the products and the vendors that we use in that process," Broerman said.
Republican Wayne Williams, Colorado's former secretary of state, also defended Dominion. He noted their machines previously passed at least 868 verification tests in 62 Colorado counties without issue.
However, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) continues to push to remove Dominion. Boebert, known for her gun-toting theatrics, continues to demand that county officials replace Dominion machines.
Ohio: The bipartisan Stark County Board of Elections voted unanimously in December to approve purchasing $6.45 million in Dominion voting equipment. County commissioners reversed that decision in March.
Samuel Ferruccio, chairman of the board, said it has never encountered Dominion's software issues.
"The Trump supporters are cult-like and that's why [the commissioners] would have the most calls they've ever had," he said. Dominion machines "have been tested at the federal level, the state level. They are tried and proven. It's just unfortunate that the lunatic fringe Trump cult people are propagating this misinformation."
In March, when county commissioners voted to reject buying new machines from Dominion a local newspaper attributed it to elected officials "being hounded by Trump supporters."
That evidence of loss of business could be costly to the defendants, especially Fox. Dominion's suit against Fox asserts that the television operation "recklessly disregarded the truth," and was "intentionally and falsely blaming Dominion for President Trump's loss by rigging the election."
Dominion's 443-page filing against Fox cites example after example of what it says are utterly false statements by primetime hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro and others that the firm's equipment was used to manipulate vote counts and that the company is owned by a Venezuelan company founded to rig elections for Hugo Chavez. They fed a fantasy that the firm supplied vote-flipping machines made for a deceased Venezuelan dictator.
Dominion as 'Criminal Enterprise'
On Nov. 21, 2020, a day after Fox News received a retraction demand letter from Dominion, Jeanine Pirro amplified Giuliani's never-made-in-litigation claims that Dominion was an "organized criminal enterprise," "started in Venezuela with Cuban money," that could and did "flip" votes "with the assistance of Smartmatic software," thus creating the "stunning" ballot "dump[s]" in the early morning of Nov. 4 that fabricated votes for Biden.
Dominion asserts that this pandering to Trump was rewarded: "After Fox's Jeanine Pirro promoted the lie that Trump had actually won the election, her ex-husband received an eleventh-hour pardon from soon-to-be-former-President Trump." (Pirro was married to Albert Pirro in 1999 when a federal jury convicted him on 23 counts of income tax cheating, for which he served 17 months in prison. Trump pardoned him on Dec, 21.)
Fox Promotes Lies
The lawsuit also notes that "after nearly a month of Fox relentlessly promoting lies about Dominion, Fox Corporation's stock had rebounded to its pre-election value."
Dominion says not only was all of the information Fox pushed false but that each of the defendants kept repeating the same material. "Indeed, Fox knew these statements about Dominion were lies," the lawsuit states.
On Nov. 12, Lou Dobbs of Fox Business News allowed Rudy Giuliani to spread false information and then fanned the flames, saying: "It's stunning. And they're private firms and very little is known about their ownership, beyond what you're saying about Dominion."
As DCReport previously reported, the largest voting company in the U.S. does have private ownership and says relatively little about its ownership. But that's not Dominion. It's Election Systems & Software (ES&S), the largest vendor with 60% of the market share, which was never mentioned by the defendants.
Ownership of Companies
As Republican election officials refuse to purchase Dominion equipment, rival ES&S is set to benefit and build increased market share.
Democratic lawmakers Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts sought ownership information about three voting equipment vendors, which together comprise 90% of the market share.
ES&S is owned by its top executives and the McCarthy Group, a private equity investment firm founded by Michael R. McCarthy in Omaha, Neb. Former Secretary of Defense and two-term Nebraska Republican senator Chuck Hagel was chairman of the company that later became ES&S, but it is unknown if he still has any investment in it. McCarthy was active in Hagel's Senate campaigns and a large donor.
Dominion is owned by Staple Street Capital, a New York City private equity firm whose principles had been associated with the Carlyle Group and Cerberus Capital Management.
Dominion declares in its lawsuit that it has no Venezuelan ties. It was founded in the early 2000s by John Poulos, a Canadian who started it in his basement. Poulos voluntarily worked with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ("CFIUS") to ensure it knew who he was and who was invested in Dominion.
In more than 60 court cases pro-Trump forces claimed votes were counted illegally to make Joe Biden president. Many of these accused Dominion of dishonesty, intentionally miscounting ballots, and other wrongs. In every one of those cases, the pro-Trump forces failed to produce evidence of the election being rigged.
In some of the cases, judges asked for evidence to back up claims, whereupon the lawsuits were withdrawn. That was a smart move by the Trump lawyers because making baseless claims can result in disciplinary action including disbarment.
Surveys show that 67% of Republicans believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. The rallying cry of the attempted coup on January 6 was "Stop the Steal."
Ben Decker, CEO and founder of Memetica, a digital investigations consultancy, described Stop the Steal as an overall election fraud strategy saying, "Stop the Steal is a highly coordinated partisan political operation intent on bringing together conspiracy theorists, militias, hate groups, and Trump supporters to attack the integrity of our election."
In a sign that it is serious about defending its reputation, Dominion recently expanded its legal team. The cases are more likely to be settled than go to trial, but by hiring more lawyers the company is signaling that it is serious about seeking damages.
Only Fox has that kind of money, but business and law partners and insurers for the others may pressure them to settle to reduce their own exposure.
More Suits to Come
Dominion CEO John Poulos promises that the four lawsuits are "definitely not the last lawsuits" he expects the company to file. "We are taking a very measured, evidence-based approach as to what we file next. And we are not ruling anyone out."
Dominion is not alone in bringing lawsuits over the Trump disinformation campaign. Smartmatic is a provider of election software with no ties to Dominion. But some Trump supporters stated as fact that Smartmatic had its software on Dominion machines. Smartmatic is suing Fox for $2.7 billion.
The New York Times recently broke the latest fundraising scandal illustrating how Trump has been raking in his supporters' money. However, the Dominion suits illustrate that, while Trump remains focused on profiting from his presidency, his loyalists may wind up paying the biggest price.