Pennsylvania Senate GOP hires Iowa Society envoy Sage of Dubuque to review 2020 election

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Trump supporters protest Congress to revoke certification of election results at a rally on the steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. On Tuesday, Jan.5, 2021 (Jose F. Moreno / The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate said on Friday they would pay up to $ 270,000 over the next six months for an Iowa consulting firm to review the 2020 election in sight to amend the state electoral law.

The “forensic investigation” is launched in response to pressure from Republican supporters of former President Donald Trump upset by his loss of 80,000 votes in the state, but falls far short of the “audit” of Arizona style that many of them are clamoring for. .

A related subpoena issued by a GOP-controlled Senate committee looking for data on voters in the executive branch is currently awaiting a hearing in a Commonwealth court next month.

The contract was signed by Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, and Envoy Sage, a company based in Dubuque, Iowa. Committee spokesman Jason Thompson said it would be released to the public in redacted form in the coming days.

The company will be paid into a taxpayer-funded leadership account that Ward controls and the deal can be extended, he said.

“The goal is to find out what the flaws are in our electoral system and to correct them through legislation,” Thompson said Friday.

Sage Envoy chairman Steve Lahr issued a statement claiming company officials had no “preconceived notions of what we will and will not find” and that he considers objectivity to be. critical.

Thompson first said that Lahr, who did not respond to a message requesting an interview, recalled making a single political donation several years ago to a friend of his time in the military. Later on Friday, Thompson said Lahr also admitted making donations to the Congressional Republican National Committee and US Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.

“I think it was an honest mistake on his part,” said Thompson.

Lahr’s statement described the upcoming process as comprising document analysis, consideration of public concerns solicited by the Senate, and an overview of electoral integrity initiatives in other states.

Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chairman Cris Dush R-Jefferson, who is leading the review process, said in a statement that Envoy Sage has handled sensitive documents for other government entities.

Senate Democrats and Dush committee chairs played no role in selecting the consultant, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa D-Allegheny said. Costa noted that his fellow Republicans had previously said they would await a resolution of the subpoena dispute.

“They agreed to wait and then hired their own company to carry out this unnecessary and costly political witch-hunt,” Costa said in a statement. He also noted that Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Jake Corman, R-Center, recently announced his entry into the 2022 Governors Primary.

Thompson said the company was hired now in part because, in opposing the subpoena, Democrats said they did not know who the voter data would be released to.

Senate Democrats and State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who is also in the running for governor, sought to block the subpoena, calling it an abuse of legislative power and focusing on the demand voter information.

“They plan to hand over the personal and private data of 9 million Pennsylvania voters to a company that has been in existence for barely a year and has no electoral experience other than donating to the Republican Party.” Shapiro’s office said in a statement. “We still have no information on how they intend to protect the confidential information of voters and what they plan to use it for.”

The summons seeks communications from state election officials with counties and the names of those who voted in last year’s presidential election, including dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers driver’s license and partial social security numbers.

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