While President Donald Trump continues to look to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the results of the November election, the issue seems settled in Colorado...for now.
A week after Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold certified the results of the state vote, and a day after the electoral college voted to confirm that Joe Biden had won the presidential race, Colorado Representative Lori Saine convened a meeting of the Legislative Audit Committee on December 15, when lawmakers listened to eight hours of testimony loosely tied to the broad topic of election fraud.
The lineup included everyone from Jenna Ellis — the former (and fired) Weld County deputy district attorney who now works as Trump’s lawyer and testified from Washington, D.C. — to county clerks and Colorado secretaries of state past and present. One person who didn't make it to the mic: conservative businessman Joe Oltmann, a Castle Pines resident who is CEO of PIN Business Network, a data-driven customer-growth company, and an outspoken critic of Dominion Voting Systems, the Denver-based company that's been the focus of many vote-fraud rumors.
Oltmann made headlines in Colorado this spring, after he funded a series of protests demanding an end to the stay-at-home orders in this state. He made more headlines when FEC United, which he founded, threatened to sue journalists for "unequal treatment." And last month, he attracted national attention during a November 13 appearance on MalkinLive, hosted by Michelle Malkin.
On the talk show, Oltmann claimed that in September he had “infiltrated” a phone call and heard a Dominion Voting Systems employee named Eric say something to the effect of “Trump is not going to win, I made (expletive) sure of that.” He also shared screenshots allegedly taken from the Facebook page of Dominion Director of Product Security and Strategy Eric Coomer in 2016, which read: “If you are planning to vote for that autocratic, narcissistic, fascist ass-hat blowhard and his christian jihadist VIP pic UNFRIEND ME NOW!”
Coomer, who lives in House District 60, whose representative-elect, Ron Hanks, recently asked Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser for an investigation into Dominion, responded in an opinion piece published in the Denver Post : “All claims that someone recorded me on a call, or even overheard me saying, ‘Don’t worry about the election, Trump’s not gonna win. I made (expletive) sure of that!’ are wholly fabricated. Moreover, I do not have the capability to do such a thing. I have not written a single line of code in the Dominion Voting Systems product. These fabrications and attacks against me have upended my life, forced me to flee my home, and caused my family and loved ones to fear for my safety, and I fear for theirs.”
Coomer is currently in hiding because of threats.
Dominion has spent the past month and a half addressing allegations and rumors in an online “Setting the Record Straight” statement on its website. Updated again on December 21, the statement currently addresses a “technically incoherent” forensic audit of Dominion that has been circulating, as well as claims that Dominion is connected to Germany, Venezuela, Cuba, the Clintons, the Pelosi family and others.
Oltmann says that during his testimony, he planned to pick apart the often-made argument that Colorado’s election system is the nation’s "gold standard," and to say that Colorado needs a full audit of ballots statewide. But he didn't get the chance: An hour into the meeting, Oltman was removed from the State Capitol by the Sergeant at Arms because of a Facebook post from four days earlier, in which Oltmann had said: “COVID got me good there for a bit. No smell, no taste, wicked cough…Finally turning a corner this morning!”
The Facebook post had been pointed out by a reporter in a tweet that morning. According to a statement from 9News: “A 9NEWS journalist reached out to Colorado legislative staff asking how they planned to respond to a tweet regarding a participant who was recently positive for coronavirus, in attendance at a Legislative Audit Committee meeting. Legislative staff did not explain the outcome of the situation to our journalist.”
The outcome: Oltmann was removed, but he's still talking.
“The type of problem we’re dealing with at Dominion is that there’s no transparency,” Oltmann says of the company and the code that powers its products. “I am the CEO of a data company, and as a result of that, I have pretty good knowledge of what code has the ability to do and does not have the ability to do. From a mathematical perspective, there are huge issues with the elections, even the ones that happened here in Colorado, things that can’t be explained away by just simple irregularities.”
He argues that there are holes in the system because Colorado’s Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) only double-checks a sample of ballots; on top of that, he notes, not every county uses the same voting equipment. (Sixty-two of the state's 64 counties use Dominion Voting Systems products, according to the company.) As a result, Oltmann says, a statewide audit is needed.
That suggestion was raised by several others who did manage to speak at the meeting, including former secretary of state Scott Gessler, the Republican who ushered in Colorado’s era of mail-in voting and launched the process to make the state's voting equipment uniform. “I think it would be very valuable for Colorado to take the lead and do a full audit,” Gessler tells Westword. “That is the easiest, most efficient way to confirm Dominion got it right. That would either restore confidence in the election, or what it will do is confirm there are problems with Dominion that need to be investigated and fixed.”
But others, including Wayne Williams, the Republican who followed Gessler as secretary of state, have repeatedly said that's what the RLA is for, and the state contracted with Dominion because its systems would allow for such complete audits.
“We should seriously examine the administration of elections," added Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. "We have done that through our public transparency process, our publicly appointed boards, our verifiability with paper ballots. Implying that we haven’t done that either ignores or is ignorant of the things that take place under the law that the General Assembly set that we are sworn to uphold. Due diligence was done throughout this process.”
At the end of the December 15 meeting, two motions — one to ask the state auditor for a performance and financial audit of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, and the other to request preliminary research for such an audit — failed on a tie vote. Saine wrapped the meeting by calling on audience members to reach out to representatives with their election-fraud experiences, and urged her colleagues to consider proposing legislation related to the topic during the 2021 session.
Oltmann plans to continue his own campaign to expose the truth. And he shouldn't be slowed down by COVID: He says that he'd already tested negative for the virus twice when he went to the Capitol, and since between ten and fourteen days had passed since he'd had symptoms, he believed he could not be contagious.
Unlike rumors about election fraud.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.