Sep 2, 2022 - Politics

"2000 Mules" group ignored Arizona AG's requests for info

Illustration of a Windows-style folder icon with a padlock on it.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

True the Vote refused multiple requests from the attorney general's office to provide evidence or data supporting the ballot-harvesting allegations it made in its debunked "2000 Mules" movie.

Context: The nonprofit organization and conservative filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza caused a stir among supporters of the false claims surrounding the 2020 election.

  • Their movie claimed to use cell phone geolocation data to track people whom it alleged were illegally paid to deliver ballots to drop boxes in five states, including Arizona.
  • Ballot harvesting, which critics often call the practice of collecting and returning other people's ballots, is illegal in Arizona, though people are still permitted to deliver ballots for members of their households.

Details: The group claimed to have identified 243 "mules" who collected ballots in Maricopa and Yuma counties.

  • True the Vote identified anyone who went near a drop box more than 10 times and to unidentified nonprofits five times during the month before the election as a mule.

Yes, but: The movie has been repeatedly debunked.

  • The geolocation data wasn't accurate enough to determine whether someone actually went to a drop box rather than went merely near it, since many of the drop boxes were in heavily trafficked public areas.
  • True the Vote has provided no evidence that any of the 2,000 people it identified delivered any ballots to drop boxes.

State of play: According to email correspondence the AG's office provided to Axios, they made four requests to True the Vote for a hard drive and other supposed evidence that the group claimed it had.

  • In a March 28 report, which the AG's office provided to Axios this week, True the Vote claimed it had provided state and federal law enforcement with testimonials from people involved in ballot harvesting in Arizona. Anderson said the AG's office has received no such testimonials.
  • "We have continually asked for information that has not been provided," Ryan Anderson, a spokesperson for the AG's office, said.

True the Vote shared its allegations with lawmakers during a June hearing in the state Senate but did not provide proof of its claims.

  • Sen. Kelly Townsend (R), who hosted the June hearing, tells Axios that she would be disappointed if the group refused to provide its evidence.

What they're saying: Asked if she put any stock in the group's allegations, Townsend said, "I don't know, because if they're not going to hand it over, then how do you know? And then that begs the question, what are we doing then? Why are we making the allegations in the first place?"

Between the lines: The Yuma County Sheriff's Office denied D'Souza's claim that a ballot-harvesting investigation stemmed from information in "2000 Mules," Arizona Mirror reported.

The other side: A representative of True the Vote did not respond to questions from Axios.

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