yesterday’s Press Release: A POSSIBLE FRAUDULENT CONCLUSION TO THE PIMA COUNTY
DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S PUBLIC RECORDS SUIT?
Risner, Esq. 520 622 7494
Mickey Duniho 520 731-3157
By Jim March, Mickey Duniho and John Brakey
September 16, 2008
On Monday, the Pima County Democratic party
was stunned to find out that its hard disk containing electronic databases from
past elections was missing from the Superior Court's vault in violation of a
court order. Fears that the hard disk
had vanished calmed after a county employee turned over the disk after keeping
it in his office for two weeks. Lax security and poor oversight by the Clerk of
the Court broke the chain of custody rules set by the Court that required both
sides to be present before the disk could be removed from the vault. Initial
concerns about data integrity have diminished somewhat after the signed seals
The electronic data won after the Pima
county Democratic Party’s hard-fought year-long public records lawsuit with
County, established a
landmark ruling that electronic voting databases are public records. The release
of records represents the largest turnover of electronic voting databases in
The scenario began when Mr. John Moffatt
(Pima County IT and "election security/troubleshooter specialist") told people
(verbally and by E-mail) connected with the lawsuit that our hard disk had been
removed from the court's vault by Attorney Bill Risner. Bill denied
As best we can make out having been present for most of it, this is
the chronology of events:
The day before the court's order to release
all data files simultaneously in the presence of representatives of the
Democratic party and the County made its way to Bill Risner, on or about the
26th of last month, the next day John Moffatt walked in and grabbed a single
sealed cardboard box containing BOTH hard disks. He claims he just asked for
his, and somebody so-far-not-known in the court archives room told Moffatt that
Bill Risner had already been by to collect the Democratic Party's box and hard
drive. The hard disks had been sealed since January '08 when copies were made
of portions of the data (covering all three major 2006 elections,
Moffatt sat on the sealed box right up until
today, without breaking the seals, a bit over two weeks. He claims it sat
locked in a file cabinet the whole time.
Moffatt brought this sealed box back to the
court archives today. A rather heated discussion ensued; county attorney Chris
Straub was yelling that it should be re-sealed into the court's vault and we all
go back and talk to the judge. Everybody else just basically looked at him like
he'd grown tentacles...we ALL wanted proof right there and then as to what was
going on. Mohur Sidhwa (Pima Dems 1st Vice Chair, basically 2nd in command)
berated him in fine fashion over the waste of time and money
finally agreed to open the box. Inside we found signed sheets from earlier this
year with the external box seal numbers written on them (proving authenticity of
the seals). The two hard disks were in two separate sealed bags, each signed
and sealed. All seals appeared to be perfectly intact (and we never found a
damaged seal anywhere in that box or on the outside). One disk is owned by the
Democratic Party, the other by the county; both are supposed to contain
On mutual agreement, the box was put back
together with the county's hard disk still inside, to go back to the court
archives and stay there a while, until we know for sure that our disk is
A parade involving two pro-grade cameras
(one owned by Channel 13, the other by JT at Sound'n'Fury) followed myself,
Mickey Duniho, Dave Bilgray, Bill Risner, John Brakey, John Moffatt, a couple of
reporters and various others over to Bill's office a block away. Mickey carried
the still-bagged Democratic Party hard disk.
At Bill's office we unsealed the Dem hard
disk in front of cameras and witnesses, connected said hard disk to a
factory-fresh Dell laptop Bill Risner owns, and copied the contents of the
external disk to that laptop hard drive. The copy went perfectly, indicating
that the drive was likely NOT exposed to a serious magnet - my biggest fear as
that would probably look like "whoops, drive failure" without need of breaking
The hard disk was then re-sealed, signed and
put in Bill's office safe. Tomorrow David Euchner of the LP will come and get a
copy of that to a hard disk he's providing, for safe storage in his gun safe. Meanwhile we have three copies of our own of the data, one on Bill's laptop, one
on mine and one in John Brakey's hands (he's borrowing my 80gig external
1) It appears we're
OK as to data integrity.
2) What Moffatt was
thinking is harder to figure. One possibility is that he was hoping to cause
either myself or John Brakey to go ballistic. We didn't fall for that. We were
pretty damn stern with him but we didn't descend into anything untoward and
certainly not anything illegal (threats, etc.).
It's worth noting that the court order said
clearly that both drives should be removed simultaneously by both groups,
probably to avoid even the appearance of this situation. Had our drive failed
for any reason, we might have suspected it had been taken to visit an MRI
machine or something; if we had then referred to the county's drive and gotten
the same poor result, we would have been certain this was fraud.
this was either a screwup made mostly right, or possibly an attempt to
antagonize or discredit us. Remember, Moffatt never so much as breathed funny
without legal counsel during this entire case, yet all of a sudden he goes
totally maverick, fails to read with comprehension a ONE PAGE court order...? This isn't like him. Hence Bill believes it was deliberate antagonism and the
more I think about it, the more in line with that thinking I am.
possibility is that they were looking for a headline, to the effect of "NO
TAMPERING FOUND". It would be...somewhat of a desperation move, but then again
there have been enough blunders (the illegal arrest of John Brakey) out of that
elections agency that people may be desperate to keep their jobs. The rate of
paperwork error (mismatched, missing or broken seals) on paper ballot bags in
the most recent election approached 50% when election director Brad Nelson told
a video cameraman that the rate would likely be no more than 5% at worst. Attorney Chris Straub's attempt to push us back to court would have boosted such
a "NO TAMPERING FOUND" OCTOBER SURPRISE; Mohur Sidhwa was instrumental in
beating that plan down.
One more thing. This incident reveals VERY poor
security at the court's archives. No paper trail was created by Moffatt's
checkout! They figured that since the drives had been checked out and back in
once already, no additional tracking would be needed. I hope we complain
formally to Judge Miller about this bizarre incident.
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 10:28
Subject: PRESS RELEASE - A POSSIBLE
FRAUDULENT CONCLUSION TO THE PIMA COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S PUBLIC RECORDS
FRAUDULENT CONCLUSION TO THE PIMA COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S PUBLIC RECORDS
For immediate release: Monday, September
Contact: Bill Risner, Esq. 520 622-7494
John R Brakey 520 250-2360
Today, Monday the 15th at 11:30am, members of the election integrity community involved in the recent
litigation will be at the main courthouse vault (1st floor) to pick
up the hard disk purchased by the Democratic Party back in April of 2007 and
(allegedly) containing the data we won in court... records of elections going
back many years.
We are told it's not
there. (see John Moffat e mail Below)
In preparation for what we
thought would be a routine process, we E-mailed county staffers. In response, county computer security expert
John Moffatt wrote back:
The drive [referring to the one owned by the
Democratic Party] was apparently retrieved some time ago.
The Clerk of the Court indicated he thought
Bill Risner had picked it up. When I got
there Monday afternoon, the only drive left (there were originally two in a
large sealed box returned January 11th after that turnover process) was our
drive still sealed in it's individual box. As far as I am concerned, the drive designated as belonging to the
Democratic Party was released into unknown hands - the chain of custody was
broken. Check with Bill as to where the
Democrat's drive is located.
Bill Risner didn't pick it up,
and neither did anyone connected with the case on our side.
If Mr. Moffatt's information is
correct, the data that we fought a year and a half's court battle over has been
stolen or taken into the possession of someone with a motive to pollute the
Court Order: "IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that the Clerk of the Superior Court of
Pima County, shall transfer possession to the
Plaintiff of the data storage device owned by the Plaintiff and presently in the
custody of the Clerk of the Superior Court. The Defendants may take possession
of their separate hard drive at the same time."
The court order is clear. Neither
the county nor the Clerk of the Court could have made a "mistake."
The drive was apparently retrieved
some time ago. The Clerk of the Court indicated he thought Bill Risner had
picked it up. When I got there Monday afternoon, the only drive left (there
were originally two in a large sealed box returned January 11th after that
turnover process) was our drive still sealed in it's individual box. As far as
I am concerned, the drive designated as belonging to the Democratic Party was
released into unknown hands - the chain of custody was broken. Check with Bill
as to where the Democrat's drive is located.
Steps 1-6 of your procedure
are almost exactly the same as proposed in writing to Bill when he returned
from vacation. The difference in 7 was that we would each connect our
respective drives to our own laptops as I was told one of the objections to my
first proposal was that the County laptop might contaminate your party hard
The answer we received to my altered proposal was Bill's
submittal of an order for the judge to release the hard drives back to their
respective parties - no mention of hashing. We countered with references to
nearly ALL the expert witnesses in the trial calling for hashing of any files
that were to be turned over. The judge acknowledged the hashing argument but
granted Bill's Motion so as far as I am concerned, it was over - especially when
there was only one disk drive remaining when I went to the Clerk's
I do not have the reference for the SHA-1 Hash code at home but
will send it when I get to the office. I have a meeting out of the office early
then another one at 10 so it will be around lunch when I can get it to you.
From: "Mickey Duniho" <firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: 9/14/08 10:26 PM
Subject: Pickup of Democrats' Disk Drive at Court
To: "'John Moffatt'" <John.Moffatt@pima.gov
> Cc: "email@example.com
>; "'John Brakey'" <firstname.lastname@example.org
>; "'Jim March'" <email@example.com
have been discussing among ourselves how the retrieval of the Democrats' disk
drive from Judge Miller's vault should proceed. We have decided on the following
procedure and we plan to begin the retrieval process at 10 am Monday (tomorrow).
You are invited to meet us at the Courthouse and to participate in the process.
I would like to bring a copy of the same SHA-1 hash code program that you have
been using. Would you let me know the name and source of the program you use for
hash code calculations?
Planned Procedure for Retrieving Our Disk Drive
from Judge Miller's vault:
1. We will invite John Moffat to meet with us
at Judge Miller's vault.
2. We will ask John Moffatt to name
his proposed hash code software, and we will acquire our own copy to use.
3. We will remove the Democratic
Party's disk drive from the vault.
4. With a video camera recording the
proceedings, we will connect the Democratic Party's disk taken from the vault
and a new disk drive, which will be removed from its carton on the spot, to a
new laptop computer also newly removed from its carton, and we will copy the
vault disk to the new disk.
5. We will write-protect the new disk
to make it read-only.
6. We will run our hash-code program
on the new disk drive's files and exchange hash code lists with John Moffatt to
confirm that our list is identical with the hash codes he obtains from the
County's disk drive.
7. If John Moffatt is agreeable, we
will connect our write-protected
disk and the County's disk to our laptop
computer and compare all the election database files bit-by-bit (for each file X
on OurDrive -- diff OurDrive/X CountyDrive/X > X.diff) to show that the
corresponding files are in fact identical.
8. We will store the new,
copy-protected disk and the hash code list in ma vault (location TBD).
9. We will use the disk taken out of
the vault as the source/reference disk for copying files to be analyzed. That
disk will be kept safe but readily accessible in an undisclosed location.
Please let us know whether to expect you (or, if you are not available,
your designee) Monday morning. Thanks.