Senate hires conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist for further review of ballots

Shiva Ayyadurai, is known to his far-right adherents as “Dr. Shiva.”

 By Robert Anglen, Jen Fifield |Arizona Republic

The Arizona Senate has hired an election conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist to conduct its review of voter signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes in Maricopa County.

Cyber Ninjas, the Senate’s lead audit contractor, hired the same man to review images of all 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2020 election.

Shiva Ayyadurai, or “Dr. Shiva” as he is known to far-right adherents, was tapped for both reviews in the waning weeks of the audit process, records show. However, he had participated in discussions with Arizona Republicans about challenging the state’s election results as far back as November.  

The Arizona Republic found one of Ayyadurai’s contracts among thousands of records the Senate released this week in response to a court order. 

Senate President Karen Fann acknowledged the envelope review on Tuesday but would not name who the Senate hired to conduct it. She said nothing about the review of ballot images even though Cyber Ninjas gave a copy of the contract to the Senate on Aug. 6.

Audit spokesperson and former Arizona GOP Chair Randy Pullen confirmed Thursday that Ayyadurai’s company got separate $50,000 contracts in July and August for its audit work.

Pullen acknowledged the contracts after The Republic raised questions about the payments, scope of work and Ayyadurai’s controversial claims of election fraud and ties to the “Stop the Steal” movement, which falsely claims the 2020 presidential was rigged against Donald Trump.

In an attempt to find a Dem leader to work with the audit, coordinator KenBennett reached out to former Pinal County Supervisor and Senate President Pete Rios, according to a lengthy message included in the data dump. 

The Yellow Sheet reported Rios rejected Bennett’s offer to join the audit as a co-liaison, a job that eventually went to Tucson Bernie Bro John Brakey.

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