June 28, 2022

A former Republican minority chief of the Colorado legislature is among the many recipients of a trove of delicate voting knowledge leaked by a county official working with activists searching for to show President Donald Trump’s false stolen-election claims, based on courtroom data reviewed by Reuters.

The revelation signifies the breach of poll knowledge in Elbert County was wider than beforehand understood. The case, now being investigated by the Colorado secretary of state, is considered one of at the least 9 unauthorized makes an attempt to entry voting-system knowledge round america, at the least eight of which concerned Republican officers or activists searching for proof to delegitimize Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory.

The clerk in Elbert County, Dallas Schroeder, beforehand testified that he copied voting knowledge from the county’s election server onto two arduous drives and gave them to 2 legal professionals. Schroeder, responding to the investigation and a associated lawsuit by the secretary of state, stated that one of many recipients was his personal legal professional, John Case, and refused to call the opposite lawyer.

However a 3rd lawyer additionally dealt with the information, based on affidavits from the attorneys concerned. The paperwork, reviewed by Reuters, present that Schroeder’s lawyer, Case, employed his personal legal professional, who additionally took possession of one of many arduous drives.

That third lawyer was Joseph Stengel, a former state lawmaker who served as Republican minority chief. Stengel, based mostly in Denver, is a former regulation companion of Case.

Stengel’s law-firm web site says he received election to the Colorado Home of Representatives in 1999. In March 2006, he resigned the Republican management submit amid accusations that he billed taxpayers for extreme days of labor whereas the legislature was not in session, based on native media studies. Stengel give up the legislature completely later that yr, citing unrelated causes.

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The lawmaker disputed the allegations on the time, telling reporters: “I work 24-7.” Reached by Reuters, Stengel declined to remark.

Schroeder, the clerk, has testified that he obtained directions on easy methods to copy the system’s knowledge from a retired Air Pressure colonel and political activist, Shawn Smith, a Trump supporter bent on proving there was election fraud in 2020.

Smith’s group, the U.S. Election Integrity Plan (USEIP), has been pressuring native county clerks in Colorado to research unfounded allegations of 2020 election fraud and to provide USEIP unauthorized entry to voting knowledge to carry out forensic audits, based on interviews with clerks and the Colorado County Clerks Affiliation.

Schroeder didn’t reply to requests for remark. He has acknowledged in authorized filings that he believed he had a “statutory responsibility” to protect data of the 2020 election.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, sued Schroeder in February searching for the return of the arduous drives. Schroeder initially refused however handed them over on Might 4 in response to a courtroom order.

BROKEN LATCH ON SEALED BOX

Elbert County District Courtroom Decide Gary Kramer additionally ordered Schroeder to explain the chain of custody for the arduous drives. That data was initially saved out of the general public file by the courtroom however the decide ordered its launch on Monday after requests to make it public by each side within the case.

The legal professionals’ affidavits describe intimately how they dealt with the 2 drives with voting knowledge, searching for to guarantee the courtroom that the chain of custody had been fastidiously managed. Case’s affidavit, nonetheless, discloses a latch, meant to make sure one of many containers wasn’t accessed, was damaged.

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Case stated Schroeder gave him the arduous drive in a crimson metallic field with a yellow plastic latch on Jan. 22. Case stated he employed Stengel, the previous lawmaker, as his personal lawyer three days later and gave Stengel the field that night, on Jan. 25.

Case stated he seen the damaged latch on Might 4, when he retrieved the field from Stengel and gave it again to Schroeder. However Case theorized that he had damaged the latch himself on Jan. 25, whereas driving the arduous drive to Stengel.

“I attempted to power the field beneath the motive force’s seat, and it will not match,” Case stated within the affidavit.

Schroeder, the clerk, stated in a separate courtroom submitting that, when Case returned the field, a pouch inside remained sealed, with one other “plastic tag,” giving him confidence that the arduous drive had not been accessed.

The secretary of state didn’t instantly reply to questions in regards to the legal professionals’ dealing with of the drives. The workplace has beforehand contended that the legal professionals had no authorization to own the copied information in any respect.

The lawyer who took possession of the second arduous drive is Elbert County-based legal professional Ric Morgan, who can be listed because the county’s Veteran Providers Officer. He stated in a submitting {that a} sealed pouch he obtained from Schroeder, containing the drive, was by no means out of his possession and by no means opened.

Morgan didn’t reply to a number of calls and emails.

Case was not instantly out there to reply questions on his dealing with of the arduous drive, the damaged latch or why he wanted a lawyer to characterize him.

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In a press release to Reuters final week, Case stated that the clerk had acted legally and argued that the knowledge on the arduous drives ought to be public file. The copied materials consists of poll photos, Case stated, however “no voter data.” He stated the knowledge may have “immense historic worth.”

“Dallas Schroeder violated no regulation or election rule,” he stated within the assertion.

Case repeated what state officers name the false declare {that a} pending software program replace would have erased all of the county system’s 2020 election knowledge. In actual fact, such upgrades haven’t any affect on storage of knowledge from previous elections, state officers say. That debunked perception, nonetheless, has impressed lots of the makes an attempt nationwide to achieve unauthorized entry to voting techniques.

Requested for a response to Case’s assertion, the Colorado secretary of state’s workplace informed Reuters that Schroeder had violated guidelines prohibiting “unqualified people” from accessing voting techniques gear. He additionally violated guidelines prohibiting the usage of sure “detachable storage media,” Griswold’s workplace stated, referring to the machine Schroeder used to picture the techniques.

The workplace stated it was nonetheless inspecting the information contained on the arduous drives.