Wednesday, September 22, 2021 4:42 am

Trump adviser funnels outside money through escrow account into the Arizona election audit

Cleta Mitchell

By Jen Fifield, Stacey Barchenger | Arizona Republic

A prominent Republican attorney who advised President Donald Trump as he tried to overturn the 2020 election helped set up an escrow account to funnel money to companies working on the Arizona election audit.

Cleta Mitchell’s role came to light as The Arizona Republic combed through documents the state Senate released this week after a court order. The documents provide previously unknown details on payments to companies and people participating in audit work and link the audit even closer to Trump.

Mitchell, who gained national attention for advising Trump during his January call to Georgia election officials in which he asked them to find votes in his favor, arranged for $1 million to be sent from the escrow account in late July to three subcontractors working under Cyber Ninjas, the Senate’s lead contractor. 

This adds to the millions of dollars in outside funding that has paid for the months-long partisan review of Maricopa County’s ballots and voting machines. Republican leaders in the Senate ordered the unusual review that has been funded mainly by “Stop the Steal” advocates and Trump allies.

Results from the review, which ran from April to July, are expected soon.

The documents don’t clarify where the $1 million came from, but audit spokesperson Randy Pullen told The Republic it was separate from the nearly $5.7 million in outside donations that Cyber Ninjas announced in July.

The Senate launched the audit with an agreement to pay $150,000 to Cyber Ninjas and other security and facility costs.

It’s unclear whether the three subcontractors paid through the escrow account — CyFIR, StratTech and Wake TSI — also received money from Cyber Ninjas.

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

Mitchell solicited donations for the escrow account, Pullen said. Trump did not pay into the account, he said. He refused to say who did. 

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