Pennsylvania's GOP-controlled Senate to spend up to $270K on election investigation

The Pennsylvania GOP-controlled Senate is spending up to $270,000 to investigate the result of the 2020 presidential election in the state.

A contract, which has not been made public yet, was agreed upon by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R) and Envoy Sage, a company from Iowa, to conduct a “forensic investigation” of the election results, Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee spokesman Jason Thompson announced Friday, The Associated Press reported

Thompson said that a redacted version of the contract will be released to the public in the near future, according to the AP. Ward agreed to give the company $270,000 from a taxpayer-funded leadership account.

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The agreement between the state officials and the company comes in the wake of the 2020 election, which saw President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE best former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE in the Keystone State by some 80,000 votes.

Following his loss, Trump alleged that the election as a whole was tainted by widespread voter fraud, and the former president and his allies launched legal challenges to the results in several swing states including Pennsylvania. However, there has been no substantial evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election. 

The forensic investigation is part of a push by GOP Pennsylvania state lawmakers to probe the election results following Trump's claims. 

Envoy Sage president Steven Lahr said there are no “pre-conceived notions for what we will or will not find” in the investigation. 

Committee Chair Cris Dush (R) will be leading the investigation that will examine the 2020 election, with an eye on reforming the state election law. 

Dush said in a statement provided to The Hill that Envoy Sage is uniquely qualified to handle sensitive information such as voter data as the company has kept classified information secured for the Department of Defense before. 

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“We specifically sought a firm without political associations, which includes refraining from actively supporting both current candidates and candidates who were on the 2020 or 2021 ballots in Pennsylvania to ensure this investigation can be completed in a professional, non-partisan manner,” Dush said. 

The Associated Press reported that Lahr has previously made donations to the National Republican Congressional Committee and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The investigation is not a full audit like the one that took place in Arizona, however. 

“The goal is to determine what flaws exist in our election system and to fix them through legislation,” Thompson said.

The announcement follows a subpoena, currently held up in court, by the committee to gather information on voter data in the executive branch.

Democrats in the Senate have objected to the audit, saying it is a “witch hunt.” Pennsylvania Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D) said that the Democrats on the Intergovernmental Operations Committee had no part in selecting the consultant, according to AP. 

“They agreed to wait, and then went ahead with hiring their own firm to carry out this political, unnecessary and costly witch hunt,” Costa said in a release, according to the wire service. 

Updated: Nov. 20, 2021, 11:01 a.m.