by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 21, 2022) — On Friday The Post & Email interviewed David and Erin Clements, who early on assumed leadership roles in petitioning for and carrying out a comprehensive audit of the November 3, 2020 election in Otero County, NM.

As a result of extensive post-election research conducted across her state and beyond and presented in a 261-page report as well as multiple residents’ requests for an audit over several years, Erin related, the county’s three commissioners unanimously approved funding for the measure at their January 13, 2022 meeting.

In general, the media has reported negatively about the effort largely based on statements emanating from the offices of New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D), State Auditor Brian S. Colon, Attorney General Hector Balderas (1:14 in newscast), and most recently, from the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight, first reported March 17 by NBC News.

Multiple news outlets reported that earlier this month, Toulouse Oliver characterized the Otero County audit as a “vigilante” effort. While the word “vigilante” is not found in the secretary of state’s written press release as of this writing, nor is the referenced press conference found on YouTube, Alamogordo Daily News corroborated that during the presser Toulouse Oliver used the term “vigilante audit.” “There’s nothing that is legitimate about this process, in my point of view,” Toulouse Oliver reportedly said. “We’re very hopeful that this will stay a limited experience. It’s really unfortunate that it is happening at all.”

“They fabricate something and accuse people of being criminal, but there are no real complaints from any real people who live in New Mexico,” Erin told The Post & Email in response to those statements. “When people call me and threaten me, I ask who they are and they will never tell me their name or where they live, but they accuse me of things. To me, it’s pretty clear what they’re doing.”

A website consisting of a “mix” of video and printed documents regarding the audit effort depicts David and Erin presenting their case at various stages of its realization upon which the Clementses expounded in our lengthy interview.

The audit consists of three components, Erin Clements told us: a full canvass of the voter rolls conducted by volunteers with the “New Mexico Audit Force”; a review of the ballots cast; and a forensic examination of the electronic equipment. At present, Erin and her team are completing the door-to-door canvassing, she said.

Criticism and denigration of the audit have also been issued by state officials in writing. A February 11, 2022 letter from the secretary of state’s general counsel, Dylan K. Lange, warned Otero County commissioners, “…should Otero County provide unauthorized access to SOS-owned tabulators to an unauthorized third-party, the SOS will take physical control of the tabulators and, as owners of said property, pursue all remedies available at law. SOS will also decertify those calculators as authorized to do by NMSA 1978, Section 1-9-7.4, and we will seek damages and any costs associated with the acquisition and certification of additional tabulators from Otero County.”

According to David Clements, a former New Mexico State University law professor and former deputy district attorney, on Friday afternoon, “The SOS is not in possession of the tabulators.”

Erin has two degrees in Civil and Structural Engineering, respectively.

Thus far, the secretary of state’s office has referred The Post & Email’s inquiries concerning the audit to spokesman Alex Curtas, whose email account stated he was out of the office but that he could be reached by cell phone, a number not provided in the auto-reply. On Wednesday, Toulouse’s Elections Division provided us with a purported cellular number, but the greeting did not resemble “Alex Curtas,” and a message left there received no response.

A question we posed to Curtas in our initial email is whether or not the county commission’s approval of the audit has “cleared all legal hurdles.” We asked similar questions of Nichols, who responded that he is not authorized to speak with the media and referred us to the county commissioners.

To date, none of the three county commissioners has responded to our request for an interview.

At the January 13 meeting, Erin told us, county attorney JB Nichols, who advised against the audit. asked whether or not canvassers would be “employed by the county.” “I responded that the canvass will be organized by myself and New Mexico Audit Force and they would be volunteers, not employees,” she said. “They’re hanging up on that word of being ’employed’ by the county, and they call us ‘vigilantes’ not authorized by the county, but at the same time, they accuse us of claiming that we are employed by the county. No one has said that; in all our training documents, we’re very clear: we start off all of our training with our canvassers that you introduce yourself as a volunteer. All our name tags say ‘Volunteer’ on them.”

On March 14, State Auditor Brian S. Colon wrote to the commissioners to suggest they had “wasted public resources in pursuit of private interests concerning unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud” and requested a “detailed corrective action plan” be submitted within 15 days.

Colon’s letter followed by approximately six weeks his January 28, 2022 appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show” in which he indicated opening a “special examination” of the funds authorization for the Otero County audit, with no opposing view or rationale presented. His review stemmed from “a whistleblower who anonymously provided a complaint about this expenditure” (3:19), Colon claimed. “My job is to restore people’s faith in government,” he added, pronouncing “Otero” as “Oturo.”

He later pronounced the name of the county correctly.

His office is looking to see if “the appropriate process” was followed in expending the funds, Colon said, or if “a personal agenda” were “driving the decision.”  “No one’s above the law in New Mexico, and we’re going to hold every one of them accountable,” he said in closing.

Maddow indicated her interest in following the story but three days later announced she would take a “hiatus” from her show “until April.”

“…from our review, it appears the County Commissioners may have abused their power in approving the County’s contract with the vendor for an ‘election audit’ that was not in the best interests of constituents and seemingly purely political grandstanding,” Colon wrote to the commissioners in his letter. “The stated purpose and methodology of the ‘audit’ gives the appearance of the entire affair simply being a careless and extravagant waste of public funds, which does not appear to serve any useful purpose to the taxpayers of Otero County.”

“…additional concerns brought to our attention suggest that it appears volunteer canvassers at the direction of the contractor are falsely representing themselves as employed by the County. The OSA has concerns of potential liability for the County in connection with alleged civil rights violations of its citizens,” Colon further wrote on page 2.

Reportage of the audit by The Daily Beast sports attention-grabbing headlines and subtitles, characterizing the effort as politically-motivated and based on an “election fraud conspiracy” fueled by “a far-right Telegram group.” “Otero County is a solidly Republican district, with more than 60 percent of residents voting for Donald Trump in 2020,” wrote The Beast‘s Kelly Weill on March 14. “There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud there, or anywhere else in the U.S. Nevertheless, Otero commissioners have spent nearly $50,000 on an ‘audit’ of their county’s 2020 election by EchoMail, a conspiracy-peddling company that assisted with a chaotic audit in Maricopa County, Arizona. EchoMail, in turn, contracted the ‘New Mexico Audit Force’ or NMAF, a Telegram group that routinely promotes election conspiracy theories, to knock on Otero County doors and ask residents about their votes.”

The Telegram account for New Mexico Audit Force and David Clements’s channel, “theprofessorsrecord,” post almost daily on the progress of the audit.

“The ballot review in Otero County is similar to the one Arizona Senate Republicans orchestrated in Maricopa County last year,” NBC wrote in its March 17 article featuring the letter to contractor EchoMail, founded by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, from U.S. House Oversight Committee Democrats. “Maricopa County’s in-person canvass of voters was eventually canceled after the Justice Department raised concerns that it would violate civil rights laws to prevent voter intimidation.”

However, in her response dated two days after the Justice Department’s May 5, 2021 letter, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann wrote, “With respect to voter canvassing, the Senate determined several weeks ago that it would indefinitely defer that component of the audit. If and to the extent the Senate subsequently decides that canvassing is necessary to the successful completion of the audit, its vendor will implement detailed requirements to ensure that the canvassing is conducted in a manner that complies fully with the commands of the United States Constitution and federal and state civil rights laws.”

On Friday, SourceNM reported on the U.S. House letter with the headline, “Congressional oversight panel to investigate ‘vigilante’ audit in Otero County” and subtitle, “County commissioner defends audit while also facing federal charges for role in Jan. 6 insurrection.”

Commissioner Couy Griffin faces trial Monday for a charge of being in a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, an allegation he denies.

The letter has been uploaded to the House Oversight Committee’s website. In it, chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY12) specifically focused on statements made by the Clementses, apparently using The Beast‘s reporting as its basis and without presenting context.

According to press reports, New Mexico Audit Force is not a legally incorporated entity nor is it currently overseen by any government agency. Rather, it is a non-governmental group, loosely organized on the messaging platform Telegram, and is led by “Big Lie” conspiracy theorists.5 In presenting the details of the “audit” to the Otero County Commissioners, the group’s leaders, Erin Clements, and her husband, David Clements, emphasized that the volunteers would act independently of county supervision. Ms. Clements stated that the goal of the canvass was to “pinpoint at least a pretty small list of suspects and then hand it over for criminal prosecution from there.”6 Mr. Clements, speaking about the plan to a church group in February 2022, laid bare the goals of the audit and canvass: “I want arrests, I want prosecutions, I want firing squads.”7 Advocates of the “audit” have begun privately fundraising with the support of election conspiracist Lin Wood, who has called for former Vice President Mike Pence to face execution by firing squad.8

“The Big Lie” refers to the media’s characterization of 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump’s assertion since November 4, 2020 that he, and not Joe Biden, won the election and that the media is responsible for perpetrating “the Big Lie” contending Biden won fairly amid rampant fraud.

Recently in Wisconsin, retired state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, serving as “Special Counsel” to the legislature to investigate claims of widespread 2020 voter fraud in the state, found that a “Zuckerberg Plan” conceived by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, funded five of Wisconsin’s five larger cities with a total of nearly $9 million through the Center for Tech and Civic Life “to facilitate in-person and absentee voting within their respective city” (p. 17). In his report, Gableman indicated that laws were violated and testimony from individuals believed to have been involved will be sought.

“Zuckerbucks,” as some have dubbed the funds, also played a role in New Mexico, Erin told The Post & Email, documentation of which she requested of Colon’s office but to which she received none, indicating no investigation of the Zuckerberg money had been undertaken.

EchoMail’s participation in the Maricopa County audit resulted in the identification of discrepancies involving thousands of ballots compared to the results of the routine post-election canvass conducted by the county (pp. 13-15). While the press has stressed the fact that the audit found several hundred more votes for Biden over what was reported by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, it remained incurious as to a final report finding more than 23,000 ballots (p. 6 of Vol. III of report) questionable for various reasons.

Maloney weighed in on that audit during an October 7, 2021 hearing.

The main auditor of the Maricopa County effort, Cyber Ninjas, is now defunct as a result of post-audit litigation.

Memorably, Biden was projected to win Arizona’s 11 electoral votes during the early evening of November 3, prior to the completion of counting in Maricopa, the state’s most populous county. He reportedly won the state by 10,457 votes.

As for the NBC article reporting U.S. House Democrats’ letter, Clements said she received an email at approximately 6:00 a.m. Thursday from someone purporting to be an NBC representative asking questions. At first, she said, she believed the email to be from “another spammer” but called the number provided in the email, informing the person she was unfamiliar with the story. “I’ve been getting people harassing me in all kinds of ways,” she told us, including texts and emails. On the phone, Clements said, the individual referenced the article and a “House” letter in regard to the Otero County audit which Clements at first thought meant the New Mexico House of Representatives. She answered some questions, she said, and “sent her some evidence showing that it looks as if there is manipulation in the digital record happening.”

The representative then sent her the letter, Clements said, informing her NBC obtained it the night before. “The letter was made public this morning, before anyone at the county had seen it,” Clements told us Friday morning. “They addressed it to Dr. Shiva. They’re trying to discredit him, I think, and because we’re being accused of ‘voter intimidation’ by verifying the voter rolls, they’re taking it out on him.”

“I don’t see what jurisdiction U.S. House Democrats have over anything that happens in a local government,” she added.

Last August Erin was a guest on “C.A.T.” (Conscious Action for Truth) Chats speaking about her efforts to that date; on March 17, both David and Erin were hosted by Nick Moseder to discuss election integrity efforts in New Mexico and Wisconsin.

We asked Clements more about the history leading up to the commissioners’ decision to authorize the audit, to which she replied, “The Otero County residents have been petitioning the commission through public comment in their meetings for a while. In the August county commission meeting, the citizens of Otero County put together a whole presentation about why they did not trust the Dominion voting system and some anomalies they were seeing locally. At the end of the hour and a half presentation, they said, ‘We want an audit.'”

She continued:

The commission didn’t act on it at that time. I had been working with people in New Mexico and across the nation, analyzing data, and I spent ten solid months looking at New Mexico’s data in all the ways I could think of, both the voter-roll data and the election results themselves, as well as policy and communication between election officials that I got through public documents requests. We actually got access to records; we went to ten different counties and got the paper tabulator tapes as they come out of the tabulator. We compared those tapes to the secretary of state’s records. We looked at ten counties that way; only one of them matched, and the other tabulator tapes did not match the SOS’s results. Her records would add votes to certain candidates and take away votes from others in the final result, which absolutely makes no sense.

We also did a hand recount in our tiniest county, Harding, with only 500 votes, and we got the entire digital record and the paper record. We compared every step of the election process to itself and we found that things did not match from step to step. The biggest discrepancy was going from the county’s tabulator tapes and the ballots themselves to the secretary of state’s records, which added 2% of the vote to those results for no reason. I put most of this in a report which is over 250 pages that we paid to have printed, and we delivered it to every county official in the state. We sent one to the SOS also.

After I delivered it, we asked all of the contacts we have across the state to start calling their local people and tell them they need to read it and do something about it. I went on some podcasts to explain it. It’s very math-heavy and hard to understand; there are hour-long videos where I’m explaining what we can interpret out of the graphs.

Exactly one person called me back after getting the report, and that was Couy Griffin, one of the Otero County commissioners. He said, “I want you to come and present the findings of your report by county-specific to our commission meeting in November.” I put together a presentation with the county-specific things out of the report. Couy had a resolution at that meeting that they could vote on after my presentation which had to do with partnering with an informal concerned group we had, New Mexico Audit Force, to pursue an audit. So after my presentation they voted unanimously to partner with us to pursue the audit.

I was tasked with going out and finding people who could do an audit. I made a whole bunch of phone calls, and we felt as if the best person to do it would be Dr. Shiva because he was already set up to do it. He’s extremely qualified and could do it quickly. He gave us a proposal to do the audit, and then we had a subcontractor that we wanted to do the forensics on the machines themselves, so there were two contractors, and we put them together in a proposal and gave it to the county commission for the January meeting.

David and I both went back to the January meeting and we had another presentation of evidence of election fraud. David covered all the material which was on the national media following the election such as the unexplained numbers switching between Trump and Biden, windows getting boarded up and Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos perjuring himself in front of the Michigan legislature when he said they don’t design their machines to connect to the internet when all you have to do is open up the user’s manual to see that it actually is a feature that you can order, and some counties were given this feature without their knowledge and didn’t even know it.

They voted unanimously to accept the contract with EchoMail. At both of those meetings David and I were at, the room was packed full of people from Otero County who said, “We want this audit; we’re been asking for this; we don’t trust these machines.” So the commission voted to accept the contract.

Within a few days, Brian Colon, our state auditor, was already smearing the campaign, claiming that he wasn’t sure if the contract met the procurement code. So we were very careful to make sure that the amount was correct and that we didn’t need to get multiple bids, and that’s one of the reasons why we did it the way we did because we wanted to avoid that. We wanted to get it done quickly and by the right people.

So the smear campaign started up right away. He had no facts; he was just kind-of throwing shade out there…”Well, we don’t know if we’re going to open an investigation…” So I submitted a public documents request to his office asking, “What investigation did you do into $4.2 million in Zuckerbucks in our state used for purchasing drop boxes for every county?” It was a few weeks later that I got a response stating there was no investigation at all.

I also asked for whatever complaints they had received to their office from Otero County about the audit because I wanted to see what the basis was of their investigation. His office sent me a complaint form that the secretary of state has, and it was clearly a very partisan handwritten document stating they were going to audit the election. It mentioned that a group of people had put up a billboard reading, “We support the unvaxxed” and she put that in there, as if it were part of the audit.

It was signed — I published it on our Telegram channel and redacted her name — and that was the basis of the complaint for the auditor to go on Rachel Maddow’s show. It was forwarded from the secretary of state to the state auditor, and he called up Rachel and went on her show. There was really nothing in it.

The Post & Email’s interview with the Clementses will continue in Part 2.

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  1. Texas refused the use of Dominion voting machines because they found they could easily be manipulated. It was a Republican SOS, Diane Duran who brought them in to all 33 counties in New Mexico. She has an interesting history if you’d like to look her up and I would suggest you do. In New Mexico the corruption is in both parties… Hence, We The People need full transparency (paper ballots) and full forensic audits often regardless of party affiliation. And anyone, regardless of party, who says different has an agenda.
    Also, please keep in mind, this wasn’t just an election for the office of President, this impacted all local down ballot candidates who were seeking state offices.