Paul Gosar’s chief of staff tried to intercept a plane rumored to be full of fake votes for Biden: court docs
Tom Porter December 16, 2021
- Paul Gosar’s chief of staff went to great lengths to find evidence of voter fraud, court documents say.
- In one notable incident, he tried to intercept a plane rumored to be stuffed with fake votes.
- He failed. No evidence has emerged for this kind of elaborate voter fraud.
The chief of staff for Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona tried to catch a plane rumored to be full of fake votes, according to a recent court document.
The episode is one of the most outlandish in the fruitless search by allies of former president Donald Trump for proof that the 2020 election was stolen.
Gosar’s aide, Tom Van Flein, hunted for a plane from South Korea that conspiracy theorists identified as a source of what they thought would be election-changing levels of fraud, per documents cited by The New York Times on Thursday.
They found a Korean Air plane, but no proof of fraudulent ballots.
Gosar himself, a Republican and close ally of Trump, has long pushed conspiracy theories about a stolen election.
The incident with Van Flein was described in a Supreme Court lawsuit filed in March by voter Staci Burk challenging Arizona’s election result, which found Joe Biden had won the state.
The lawsuit’s documents said that Van Flein was among a group of people who traveled on November 7, 2020, to an airplane parking lot near Phoenix after rumors circulated that a plane filled with fake ballots had landed.
According to the documents, the expedition was prompted by a tip sent to independent journalist Ryan Hartwig that a plane from South Korea loaded with fake votes had landed in Sky Harbor Airport on Election Night, and was about to depart.
Van Flein is also mentioned as a participant in an account of the trip on Hartwig’s website.
Hartwig and Van Flein were accompanied by GOP congressional candidate Josh Barrett, activist Marko Triskovitts, and others on the expedition, according to the documents.
They recorded grainy video footage of the exterior of plane belonging to Korean Air, the national carrier of South Korea, which was then uploaded onto Hartwig’s website. The lawsuit said that a member of the group called the local sheriff urging him to investigate. No proof of fake ballots ever emerged.
Insider contacted Gosar’s office, and all of those named in the documents, for comment.
Gosar closely embraced Trump’s election-fraud conspiracy theories, and spent months hyping an audit of votes in Maricopa County.
In October, the audit wound up having found that Biden had indeed won the election there, by slightly more votes than in the official count.
The belief that votes were being shipped in from abroad was one of the many conspiracy theories pushed by Trump allies as they sought to undermine Biden’s win.
The audit in Maricopa was conducted by a firm run by a Trump supporter, Cyber Ninjas.
At one point auditors were looking for traces of bamboo on ballots, hoping to prove a baseless theory that they had their origins in Asia.
Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, reportedly pressed FBI officials to investigate the conspiracy theory that China had managed to hack voting machines using thermostats.
The election fraud “Big Lie” remains at the center of Trump’s speeches and public statements as he stirs rumors of another bid for the presidency in 2024, and continues to be eagerly promoted by his close allies in the GOP.