“Paul, this is so strange. Someone from The Daily Beast called earlier to interview me about our Matt DePerno event, and he asked about you.” I was on the phone with Christopher Marston, who is the Chairman of the American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom (AFCLF).
I had recently connected with Chris at an AFCLF event held to raise awareness and support for lawyer Matt DePerno and his team of election process experts in their fight to expose how voting tabulation machines in Michigan and other states produced woefully inaccurate results in the 2020 elections. At the event, the DePerno team gave an impressive presentation of the evidence collected during their court-ordered audit of the machines in Antrim County, Michigan. Their evidence demonstrated how wanton lapses in cybersecurity led to nefarious tampering with the 2020 vote count. AFCLF will soon release an hour-long special to the public featuring interviews with DePerno’s team.
Scratching my head, I puzzled over why anyone at The Daily Beast would ask Chris Marston about me. And then, it dawned on me . . . “Was his name ‘Roger’?” I asked, my eyes narrowing as I said the name. When Chris confirmed my suspicion, I replied, “Get ready for a hit piece on DePerno.”
“Put aside all of these issues of concern about liberties and personal liberties and realize we have a common enemy.”
Who is Roger Sollenberger?
Roger Sollenberger, formerly of the Russia Collusion beat at Paste Magazine before moving over to Salon.com, and now with The Daily Beast (I had forgotten he jumped ship again) is what you might call a hit piece artist, using the term “artist” loosely. If he were a visual artist, he would be the guy at the carnival drawing cheap, unflattering caricatures. For that is what he does—grossly exaggerates any feature he can find to create a false image of his subject. Only, it’s worse than that. Little better than a hitman from a Scorsese film, Sollenberger makes his living doing the dirty work for the dons of today’s far-left online tabloids as these crime families compete for territory in the form of clicks on the internet.
A quote from a Politico piece entitled “The fall of Salon.com” provides an insiders report of the type of so-called “journalism” that goes on inside these disinformation cartels. Quoting from the piece by Kelsey Sutton and Peter Sterne, a former Salon.com staff writer, Andrew Leonard, recalls the day he quit: “my editor G-chatted me with the observation that our traffic figures were lagging that day and ordered me to ‘publish something within the hour. . . . Which, translated into my new reality, meant ‘Go troll Twitter for something to get mad about—Uber, or Mark Zuckerberg, or Tea Party Republicans—and then produce a rant about it.’ . . . . I performed my duty, but not without thinking, ‘Is this what 25 years as a dedicated reporter have led to?’ That’s when it dawned on me: I was no longer inventing the future. I was a victim of it. So I quit my job to keep my sanity.”
Unfortunately for decent humans everywhere, there were henchman like Roger Sollenberger waiting in the wings to fill the void for the journalists like Leonard who have at least some semblance of a conscience. Sollenberger does not seem to suffer from this limitation. You would be hard-pressed to find a Sollenberger article that is not a hit piece on almost exclusively conservative figures too often based on, to put it generously, flimsy conjecture of wrongdoing. I ought to know. He effectively destroyed my life as I previously knew it with a single Tweet falsely accusing me of a crime. I can picture his editor that day saying, “Roger, our traffic figures are lagging, go do your thing and find a conservative who’s life you can turn upside down.” I can picture the excitement on his face as he trolled social media seeking whom he may devour to earn his next paycheck. What a disgusting existence. But more on my own experience with Roger later.
His list of hits includes titles like, “Six degrees of sedition: Was master trickster Roger Stone behind the Capitol riot?;” “Arrested Proud Boys chairman has history of business failure, apparently lives with mom;” “Mark Meadows has skeletons in the closet—dinosaur skeletons, to be precise.” When the hit piece on Matt DePerno came out as predicted, it featured a similarly sensationalist title: “The Original Election Fraud Grifter Is Back to Claim His Kraken Crown—and His Money” with a graphic of DePerno on a green background with $100 bills raining down.
One need not be a sage to see where Sollenberger’s article on Matt Deperno is going. In the hive mind of bottom-feeding left-wing “journalists,” anyone who dares question the authenticity of the 2020 elections is either an insurrectionist, a grifter, or both. Any assertion of improprieties in the vote tabulation process is a “baseless conspiracy theory” that no reasonable person could believe. The mere suggestion that there could possibly be actual evidence of election fraud in existence is anathema to this leftist media cult. In his DePerno piece, Sollenberger opts for the grifter angle.
No hypocrisy to see here
The most irritating aspect of Sollenberger’s article is the sheer hypocrisy of it. Not only did Sollenberger write countless articles promoting the now-thoroughly-debunked accusation that Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election, but, in November 2018, Sollenberger wrote a piece asserting that “problems with voting machines” suppressed the vote in Georgia leading to Gov. Brian Kemp stealing the election from Stacey Abrams. To quote Sollenberger’s 2018 article:
“Kemp [as Georgia Secretary of State] suppressed or attempted to suppress as many as 300,000 or 400,000 votes, significantly more than his current margin over Abrams, and precincts across the state reported problems with voting machines and seemingly intentionally under-prepared polling places . . . . Abrams should—and apparently is—challenging the election and angling for a run-off.”
According to Sollenberger, it’s perfectly ok for Stacey Abrams to challenge the Georgia election by asserting “problems with voting machines,” but it’s not ok for attorneys like Matt DePerno to seek audits when, as we will see, there were real issues with the security of the voting machines in the 2020 elections. So much for objective journalism.
A ridiculous comparison to Sidney Powell
Staying true to his predictable style, Sollenberger, the drive-by media hitman, delivers another “nothingberger” of a story in the DePerno piece, firing shots with an attention-grabbing headline and salacious graphic before completing the hit with outrageous accusations that, as we say in Texas, are “all hat and no cattle”—the story is devoid of substance. He begins with a classic guilt-by-association fallacy by invoking Sidney Powell and her failed “Kraken” lawsuits in an attempt to place DePerno in the same category.
Powell lit the fires of hope among the Trump faithful horrified by the bizarre and unprecedented irregularities apparent in the 2020 elections with her promise to “unleash the Kraken” of evidence to unequivocally prove Donald Trump won the 2020 elections. Powell’s bold promises made her an overnight sensation, and she proceeded to rake in, by some reports and estimates, upwards of $27 million from the MAGA masses, who were happy to empty their pockets to Sidney and her team, confident Powell would save them from the horrors of living in a county hurdling toward an authoritarian coup by stolen election. However, her lawsuits went nowhere and the reports are now widespread among conservatives that Powell never had a Kraken to release as she apparently failed to back up her bold statements with actual evidence. Many who donated heavily to Powell’s fund, including yours truly, now feel duped into lining Powell’s own pockets.
So, what is Sollenberger’s sound factual basis for lumping DePerno’s team in the same category as Sidney Powell? He asserts in the article, “DePerno has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from unknown donors through multiple fundraising mechanisms, including a fund that bankrolled Powell’s so-called ‘Kraken’ lawsuits.” Buried further in the article is a convoluted admission that Powell does not control this fund. He refers to it as “Powell’s old fund” and admits it “was set up by Robert Matheson . . . to pay for Powell’s lawsuits.”
Wow, what a non-story this is. In other words, a Michigan solo practitioner lawyer trying to support a team of cybersecurity and forensics experts and legal staff while having to turn down his usual staple of IRS tax defense cases and still put food on the table for his family has raised “hundreds of thousands of dollars from unknown donors” including an unknown amount from a fund that raised money for Sidney Powell.
Baseless allegations of grifting
I wonder if Sollenberger chose journalism because he is bad at math. To be generous, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he has no idea of the costs involved in litigation. I will add that he is soon going to find out because my attorney and I have already drafted the lawsuit I will be filing in the coming weeks against him for the egregious libel he printed against me.
Once I gained enough seniority in my last law firm to become a billing attorney, I saw firsthand how fast litigation expenses pile up in an expert-intensive lawsuit. In the first case in which I managed billing, we had only two forensic accounting experts, one paralegal and one junior attorney on the case. We burned through over $100,000 in two months preparing for and arguing an injunction hearing. That’s on the low end when multiple experts have to get involved.
Matt DePerno’s team consists of multiple cybersecurity experts and private investigators, co-counsel Stephanie Lambert, and several supporting attorneys and paralegals. The task of obtaining, reviewing, and forensically analyzing highly complex evidence in the form of voluminous amounts of data, records, software, and the tabulation machines themselves and then organizing and compiling this evidence into a form that can be described to a court in legal documents is a full time job for all of these individuals—not to mention depositions to take, tedious battles over written discovery requests, motions to litigate, appeals on certain issues, etc. Each team member has themselves and their families to support, and they are turning down the work they usually perform. They can’t afford to work for free.
Yet, the premise of Sollenberger’s tabloid-trash article is that Matt DePerno is “profiteering of his baseless election fraud claims.” What’s actually “baseless” in this article is the absurd allegation that DePerno is grifting to get rich off of election fraud lawsuits. A few hundred thousand dollars of donations to a team the size of DePerno’s is simply not going to make anyone rich. Period. At best, it will cover their operating budget for a few months of work. It’s clear from the lengthy pleadings, briefing, and exhibits filed in their case that they did the work their donors wanted, so where’s the grifting story here?
Let’s take a look at what else dear Roger parades out to give readers the impression that DePerno is “grifting.” Sollenberger claims DePerno is “currently under scrutiny for allegedly profiteering off of his baseless election fraud claims.” This is a truly amazing sentence because it paints DePerno as some nefarious character without actually saying anything. What kind of “scrutiny”? Who is scrutinizing? What are the allegations of profiteering? And, most importantly, why are DePerno’s election fraud claims “baseless”?
As it turn out, the allegations and “scrutiny” are from the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessell at the urging of a 4-person committee in the state senate. Ah ok, I see. So, a leftist Democrat Attorney General who has previously stated that she plans to seek sanctions against lawyers who file lawsuits to challenge Michigan’s election results is seeking to investigate DePerno on the recommendation of RINO Michigan state senator, Ed McBroom, who wrote the report approved by the three other feckless members of McBroom’s committee. The basis of the recommendation, according to McBroom, is this: “If you are profiting by making false claims, that’s pretty much the definition of fraud.”
The circular reasoning employed in this spectacle of leftist propaganda is incredible. Both the article and McBroom’s recommendation begin and end with the premise that DePerno’s claims of election fraud are “baseless” without offering a shred of information as to why the claims are baseless. Never mind the fact that the money DePerno’s team raised, reported in the article as $384,000, is likely barely enough to cover a few months of litigation work for the team. According to Sollenberger, the mere fact that the money was raised to investigate election fraud apparently makes it “grifting” per se.
Like the courts, Sollenberger prefers not to look at the evidence
Of course, this begs the question: are DePerno’s claims really “baseless”?” It seems to me that if you are going to accuse someone of being a grifter, it would behoove you to substantiate the assertion that underlies your premise. But, not so in Sollenberger’s world. According to Chris Marston, when asked on their call whether Sollenberger had reached out to DePerno’s team to find out what the nature of their evidence was, Sollenberger admitted he had not nor did he care, stating callously, “Trump is an idiot and even if he really won, it would be a travesty to put him back in office.”
Bravo. Really solid journalism accusing a man of grifting on “baseless claims of election fraud” without even taking the time to look at his evidence. Perhaps Sollenberger felt no need because, according to the article, the Michigan judge “tossed” DePerno’s lawsuit in May. But, even this statement is misleading as it does not give the entire picture.
The Michigan Constitution gives voters “[t]he right to have the results of statewide elections audited, in such a manner as prescribed by law, to ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections.” Michigan election law gives the Secretary of State the power to “prescribe procedures for election audits.” The Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, another far left Democrat, intervened in DePerno’s lawsuit, ultimately seeking to have the case dismissed because she had performed an “audit.” The only problem was that her so-called “audit” involved checking a mere handful of 4 or 5 ballots from each county, hardly a statistically significant sample size.
Let that sink in. Secretary Benson argued to the court that checking 4-5 ballots out of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of ballots (depending on the size of the county) satisfies the Michigan constitutional right of citizens to “have the results of statewide elections audited.” How does one make such an argument with a straight face? If anything, Benson’s refusal to conduct any meaningful audit smacks loudly of a cover-up scheme to hide rampant violations of election law.
Yet, in keeping with the trend of courts finding extraordinary and absurd reasons to pass the buck on election fraud cases without considering evidence,—as detailed in a great piece at The Federalist by Bob Anderson— the Antrim County judge “tossed” the case to the court of appeals for guidance on what constitutes a sufficient audit under the Michigan Constitution. This issue is what is known in the law as a “case of first impression” because no appellate court has previously ruled on the question. Now, I may be going out on a limb here, but whatever standard the drafters of the Michigan Constitution intended for audits, it’s certainly more than 4 or 5 ballots per county. In any case, being the bastion of objective journalism that he is, Sollenberger neglects to mention any of this context, preferring to leave the reader with the false impression that DePerno’s lawsuit was tossed because it was “baseless.”
DePerno’s case is far from baseless
In fact, DePerno’s case is far from baseless. At the AFCLF event I attended, DePerno’s team put on an impressive presentation of the evidence they have amassed regarding the shocking lack of security inherent in the use of the Dominion Machines in Michigan. In the words of Jim Penrose, a cybersecurity expert on the team, “the lack of security with regard to the Dominion Machines in Antrim County was so bad that it can only be explained as purposeful.” The team put on clear and convincing evidence showing that the machines were connected to the internet.
A Microsoft SQL database management system was installed in the Dominion Machines software, which allows an easy backdoor for even the least sophisticated of hackers to access the Dominion software. They showed a video of a live demonstration in which one of their cybersecurity experts was able to access the Dominion machine remotely and use the administrative functions to swap votes from ballots counted in real time during the demonstration from Trump to Biden and produce a receipt of the returns that would comply with the audit procedures Secretary Benson put in place. In other words, the procedures Benson set forth for audit would not have detected if a hacker had logged in to manipulate the vote count using the highly secure password of 12345678. That’s right, the password for the Antrim county servers was 12345678. I’m no cybersecurity expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s not an industry best practice.
The team showed screenshots of the vote count in Antrim County throughout the night showing that, at one point, a third party candidate for U.S President, whose name I did not even recognize, held a substantial lead of several thousand votes over both Trump and Biden before the numbers were switched later in the evening. The team showed how a hacker’s misuse of the vote swapping feature in the administrative functions would have caused this phenomenon.
The only reason anyone even took a closer look at the Dominion Machines in Antrim County, Michigan is because a county that voted 62% in favor of Donald Trump in 2016 produced an implausible result showing Biden beating Trump by a whopping 7,769 votes to 4,509 with 16,047 total votes cast. William Bailey, a citizen of Antrim County and the Plaintiff in DePerno’s lawsuit, pressed the issue with the county election officials who then released amended results on November 5, 2020 showing a vote total of 18,059 votes cast with Biden receiving 7,289 votes to Trump’s 9,783.
This was within the realm of plausibility but still a suspiciously low percentage for a Republican presidential candidate in a deep red county at 54%. Then, on November 21, 2020, the election officials released second amended results showing Trump with 9,748 votes to Biden’s 5,960 with 16,044 total votes, which was more in line with 2016 results at 60.75% for Trump.
Secretary Benson chalked all this up to “human error.” Sounds to me like the “human error” was that whoever manipulated the results of Antrim County election did a poor job of it by producing an implausible result that triggered the scrutiny of Bailey and later, DePerno’s team. The utter lack of secure procedures in the Antrim County tabulation process would never have been discovered otherwise.
Secretary Benson still has no coherent answer for how this discrepancy occurred and refuses to conduct any statistically significant audit of any other county in Michigan. This includes the infamous Wayne County where the vote count was so out of sync with the roles of registered voters that two election commissioners refused to certify the vote until they were bullied into doing so under threat of violent mobs showing up at their homes thanks to viral social media videos making the tired and predictable accusation of racism as their motive.
The height of Sollenberger’s hypocrisy
Apparently, none of this presents any concern to Sollenberger, who, while writing for Paste Magazine devoted large amounts of time writing extensively about how Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election. Talk about a “baseless conspiracy theory.” Never mind that American taxpayers were forced to spend $32 million on the Mueller investigation, which turned up exactly zero evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. Now that the shoe is on the other foot and a Democrat sits in the White House, Sollenberger is apoplectic that people voluntarily contributed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to DePerno’s team to investigate disturbing anomalies in the Michigan election count. Spare me the hypocrisy. This is the sad state of journalism today.
To put the icing on his grotesque fluff piece, Sollenberger makes a strange attack at Marston by quoting him as saying of Trump, “F**k him . . . I f**king hate that guy. But this is America, and this is a competition. We like competitions, and we want to know the true winners.” Umm ok . . . so the man who planned a fundraiser to support Matt DePerno and his team’s efforts to uncover if and how the election was stolen from Donald Trump hates Trump with a passion? Color me skeptical. Marston, whom I know to have supported Trump in the 2020 elections, vehemently denies making this statement and has demanded a retraction. It’s unclear why Sollenberger would have included a misquote from Marston in his article. Possibly he meant to cause dissension in the ranks at Marston’s AFCLF organization, but who can know the mind of a hit man?
The most bizarre statement comes toward the end of the piece, where Sollenberger writes, “Still, it’s not clear whether these collective efforts are designed for profit, for litigation, or for getting “evidence” into the hands of right-wing media, election officials, and state legislatures.” Excuse me? Wasn’t the whole point of the article to make it clear to the reader that Matt DePerno is a “grifter”? But now, it’s not clear what DePerno’s motive is? At least Sollenberger is able to admit that his article is pointless and unsupportable.
Also, why is “profit” a bad motive? Does Sollenberger not understand that when you provide a service people perceive as valuable, they generally are willing to pay you for it. Then, you get to use the fruits of your labor to buy goods and services for yourself and your family. It’s called “capitalism.” Presumably, Sollenberger doesn’t write these baseless hit pieces for free. So, by his own definition, I suppose that makes him a “grifter.” I was tempted to entitle this rebuttal article “The not-so-original Russia collusion grifter returns to claim his crackpot crown—by smearing Matt DePerno,” to illustrate the staggering level of irony and hypocrisy in Sollenberger’s ridiculously-titled piece.
My personal experience with Sollenberger
As promised I’ll end with my own personal experience with Sollenberger. On January 6, 2021, I peacefully and lawfully exercised my First Amendment right to protest at the U.S. Capitol. I did not go inside. I did not cross any marked boundaries. I did not assault anyone. I did not vandalize anything. I protested with my voice. I demanded to speak to my Senators and Congressman. For this, I was tear-gassed while standing in a crowd of others doing the same. I made an Instagram video to display my shock at being gassed while standing in place at a protest. I explained my purpose in being there, which was to demand a proper audit of the 2020 elections.
Sollenberger Tweeted an edited version of my Instagram story omitting all exculpatory context stating: “This is Paul Davis. Paul is a lawyer. He’s also associate general counsel & director of human resources at Goosehead Insurance. Today he stormed the capitol building in an attempt to stage a coup against the US government and documented it (!) on Instagram.” He tagged my employer in the post. He did this without any evidence that I had in any way acted violently, as “stormed the capitol” to “stage a coup” would certainly suggest. He did not bother to ask me for my side of the story before posting this viral Tweet viewed by over 2.6 million people, who flooded my employer with demands for my termination. Goosehead Insurance did terminated me the next morning, also without asking my side of the story, I might add.
The chain reaction fallout in my life from a single Tweet by this media equivalent of a drive-by hitman has caused me unspeakable suffering and loss far beyond simply the loss of my career. It forever changed the trajectory of my life. As a strong believer in God, I believe this will all work out for my good as is promised in the Bible, Romans 8:28 to be exact. I believe God will give me justice, and I choose to forgive Roger Sollenberger for what he did to me, though it is easier said than done. However, I will not stand by silently and watch him smear the reputation of a good man like Matt DePerno who is fighting every day in the face of vicious opposition to expose a great injustice inflicted upon our society by unsecure and easily hackable electronic voting systems facilitated by corrupt individuals in government and the private sector.
 One court even held that the word “shall” in a statute requiring voters to sign and date a declaration on the outside envelope of an absentee ballot did not indicate “that the directive is a mandatory one.”
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