UNITED STATES NEWS

Pa. county sanctioned over copying 2020 voting machine data

Apr 19, 2023, 12:42 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania Republican-majority county government where two commissioners secretly allowed a third party to copy voting-machine data last year to help former President Donald Trump overturn his 2020 reelection defeat received contempt sanctions Wednesday from the state’s highest court.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against Fulton County commissioners Stuart Ulsh and Randy Bunch — and their lawyers — for their behavior late last fall during pending litigation.

“We find that Fulton County and its various attorneys have engaged in a sustained, deliberate pattern of dilatory, obdurate and vexatious conduct and have acted in bad faith throughout these sanction proceedings,” wrote Justice David Wecht, in a 79-page opinion that announced the county was being held in civil contempt.

Fulton County was ordered to reimburse the Department of State for its legal costs and fees spent seeking to protect the machines from outside examinations since December 2021. The justices also called for the Dominion Voting Systems Inc.-owned machines in question to be placed in the custody of a “neutral agent” at the county’s expense.

The Department of State had sought sanctions after learning in September that Speckin Forensics LLC, of Lansing, Michigan, copied hard drives in July from voting machines Fulton County rented from Dominion. Messages seeking comment were left for Speckin Forensics, which was not accused of wrongdoing in the matter before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Fulton had claimed in a lawsuit against Dominion that it was looking into whether the machines recorded votes accurately.

Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro, called the high court decision “further proof that those who abuse our legal system to peddle dangerous lies about our elections will continue to be held accountable.”

The court ruling in Pennsylvania comes as election conspiracy theorists have gained access to confidential data from voting machines in rural areas across the country, ranging from Colorado to Michigan. A clerk in Colorado’s Mesa County faces multiple felony charges for her role in a breach there, and a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate breaches in Michigan.

Ulsh said in a phone interview Wednesday he had not seen the court opinions but had no regrets over how he and Bunch handled the machines in their effort to review the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

“Nothing happened in Fulton County. I know that because of what I did,” Ulsh said. Fulton County gave Trump more than 85% of its vote in 2020.

Ulsh and Bunch both invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to the vast majority of questions asked of them on direct examination in the contempt proceedings late last year before the high court’s special master, Commonwealth Court President Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer.

Dominion has been the subject of conspiracy theories claiming without evidence the election was stolen from Trump. The company reached a nearly $800 million settlement with Fox News on Tuesday in one of a number of defamation lawsuits it has filed against his allies and right-wing broadcasters.

In the Pennsylvania case, the justices ruled that Dominion was also entitled to legal costs associated with protecting the voting machines going back to December 2021.

Fulton’s lawyer, Thomas J. Carroll of Pottstown, “incessantly transgressed the bounds of zealous but ethical advocacy,” repeatedly raising the same arguments before Cohn Jubelirer and the state Supreme Court, “long after it was clear that neither would grant the relief he sought,” Wecht said.

The justices referred Carroll to the state Attorney Disciplinary Board for an investigation and ruled Carroll to be liable — along with Fulton County — for costs and fees expended by Dominion and the Department of State since Carroll entered the case in April 2022. A message seeking comment from Carroll was left at his work phone number.

“We can hope that the sanctions will underscore for the County, Attorney Carroll, and other observers that they trifle with judicial orders and time-honored rules and norms in litigation at their peril,” Wecht wrote.

In its opinion, the court also targeted Stefanie Lambert, a Michigan lawyer who already has been sanctioned for her efforts to help Trump overturn his defeat. She represented Fulton County starting in 2022. The justices said she failed to disclose the disciplinary proceedings in Michigan arising from “2020 election-related litigation deemed frivolous and vexatious.”

Reached by email, Lambert said she had not seen the new Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion.

The justices sent the matter back to Cohn Jubelirer to calculate the applicable legal fees and litigation costs to the Department of State and Dominion.

___

AP reporters Nicholas Riccardi in Denver and Marc Levy contributed.

United States News

Associated Press

Shooting kills 3 people including a young child in a car on an Alabama street

Three people including a young child were killed when their car was targeted with multiple gunshots outside a residence in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday evening. The Birmingham Police Department said in a social media post that a triple homicide investigation was underway in the 3400 Block of 27th Street North. The police said officers responded […]

2 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is covered by U.S. Secret Service a...

Associated Press

The Secret Service is investigating how a gunman who shot and injured Trump was able to get so close

The Secret Service is investigating how a gunman was able to get close enough to shoot at former President Donald Trump at a rally Saturday.

2 hours ago

Carlton Smith, left, and Justin Nimmo pose in from of the console of the Barton Opus 234 theater or...

Associated Press

Reviving Hollywood glamor of the silent movie era, experts piece together a century-old pipe organ

DETROIT (AP) — A massive pipe organ that underscored the drama and comedy of silent movies with live music in Detroit’s ornate Hollywood Theatre nearly a century ago was dismantled into thousands of pieces and stashed away. The Barton Opus, built in 1927, spent four decades stored in a garage, attic and basement in suburban […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, left, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator ...

Associated Press

Can a Medicaid plan that requires work succeed? First year of Georgia experiment is not promising

ATLANTA (AP) — By now, Georgia officials expected their new Medicaid plan, the only one in the nation with a work requirement, to provide health insurance to 25,000 low-income residents and possibly tens of thousands more. But a year since its launch, Pathways to Coverage has roughly 4,300 members, much lower than what state officials […]

4 hours ago

Catherine Ward, owner of One Acre Farms, a functioning educational farm to help special needs kids,...

Associated Press

After Beryl, Houston-area farmers pull together to face unique challenges

PORTER, Texas (AP) — Hurricanes cause trouble for everyone, but farmers have a whole other list of problems. Beryl has been no exception: Over the past week, the storm damaged crops, soaked rabbits and chickens, terrified goats, put horses at risk of developing colic and left cows without fences to keep them penned in. And […]

4 hours ago

Debris from the Titan submersible, recovered from the ocean floor near the wreck of the Titanic, is...

Associated Press

The first Titanic voyage in 14 years is happening in the wake of submersible tragedy. Hopes are high

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic is undertaking its first expedition to the ship’s wreckage in years, and those involved in the mission said they have both heavy hearts and lofty goals for a trip happening a year after a submersible disaster involving another firm killed five […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Pa. county sanctioned over copying 2020 voting machine data