In a call with reporters this week, the president of the firm selected to conduct a probe of recent elections in Pennsylvania promised a nonpartisan effort to determine what facets of election security in the Keystone State need improvement.
“We have no preconceived notions of what we will or will not find,” said Steven Lahr, president of Dubuque, IA-based Envoy Sage. “The facts, as they are gathered, both digital and physical, will drive our investigative services. We will handle all concerns, data or information presented by the citizens of the Commonwealth through the [investigation] website, or to us by the committee, with fidelity, due diligence and the utmost discretion.”
Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chairman Cris Dush (R-Wellsboro) has described Envoy Sage as a disabled-veteran-owned small business specializing in investigative, management and crisis-communications work.
Dush said the firm was chosen because if its employees’ “decades of experience” in large-scale, complicated investigations requiring thorough analytical and forensic expertise. He has touted the company’s background in handling sensitive matters for federal government agencies including the Department of Defense, insisting that the firm is well prepared to protect sensitive voter information that this probe may involve compiling.
A statement from Dush’s committee says the contract between the state Senate and Envoy Sage covers “document analysis, consultation, review of election concerns and affidavits submitted to the committee, analysis of other election integrity initiatives across the nation and more.” The contract currently applies for six months but may be extended in the future. Envoy Sage will be paid $270,000 out of Senate Republican Caucus funds for the work that has been commissioned so far.
Dush said Envoy Sage was selected in consultation with Senate GOP leaders and members of his committee. Senate Democrats have repudiated the idea of reviewing the 2020 general election and have given the effort no cooperation.
“We must find out where the weaknesses and strengths are in our system and make appropriate changes to address those weaknesses, so we can ensure election integrity,” Dush said.
In September, Dush’s committee held two public hearings and voted to subpoena information pertaining to the roughly nine million Pennsylvania voters registered in 2020, including their names, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers and home addresses. Upon receiving the subpoena, the Pennsylvania Department of State litigated to prevent giving up the requested information.
While it is uncertain whether Envoy Sage will have the opportunity to examine the aforementioned records, Senate Republicans have indicated the company will begin its investigation by reviewing testimony submitted by Pennsylvanians. Citizens who believe they have evidence important to identifying fraud and other election-related problems may submit statements online through the election probe’s website paelectioninvestigation.com.
Senate Republicans have said hiring a vendor to investigate the 2020 and 2021 elections was conditioned on that vendor not having political associations, including not publicly supporting candidates who appeared on the ballot in Pennsylvania this year or last year. Envoy Sage also is disallowed to engage in any political or government-relations activities during the Pennsylvania election review.
Lahr himself has made some donations to Republican campaign committees over the past few decades, though he said he has supported members of both major parties at different times. Committees to which Lahr has contributed include U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham’s (R-SC) in 2020, Virginia congressional candidate Chris Perkins’s 2021 campaign, former U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman’s 2010 effort and the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2007.
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Bradley Vasoli is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Woman voting” by WyoFile WyoFile. CC BY 2.0.