I’ve stuck by my beliefs, I’m not going to change.Mike Lindell
Since last November the country has been divided about the election. Roughly a third of the population believes the election was stolen from President Donald Trump. About 59 percent disagree with this assertion, with 9 percent saying they do not know. This division of the country is no ordinary one. If this question is not settled by rational inquiry, America could break into two countries – or revert to a one-party dictatorship – a regime of threats and punishments.
An inquiry of such importance requires great diligence. It should be about evidence. We do not need, on the one side, federal officials decrying state election audits as bogus. We also do not need a well-meaning pillow salesman, like Mike Lindell, pushing a false narrative like Absolute Proof – supported by an echo chamber of true-believers, grifters and yes-men. It is my belief that Lindell’s documentary Absolute Proof is an “absolute swindle.” And Lindell is the victim of this swindle. His intentions are good, but he does not understand what proof is. Consequently, Lindell has been tricked into supporting a narrative that could derail the election audit process.
An election fraud narrative emerges
After the election, from November to January, I was interviewed by Brannon Howse on several occasions. Brannon was then very excited by information he had picked up from Mary Fanning, a “journalist” whose site is called The American Report. According to Fanning, a computer technician named Dennis Montgomery had acquired “proof” of a massive cyber-hack against computers used to tabulate the November elections. Brannon wanted me to climb aboard, and join the campaign to “stop the steal.” He advised me to buy and read a book titled The Hammer is the Key to the Coup, “The Political Crime of the Century”: How Obama, Brennan, Clapper, and the CIA spied on President Trump, General Flynn … and everyone else, by Mary Fanning and Alan Jones.
I downloaded the book and began to read. It was like one of those bad advertisements in which you are told, again and again, how great a product is; but you never get to see the product. Every conceivable side-issue is rehashed and regurgitated in that book. It was, in the end, a bootless series of assertions. Okay, there is a lot of illegal surveillance and computer skullduggery out there. Who doubts it?
I called Brannon to learn more. Okay, I said, this Dennis Montgomery guy is supposed to be a heroic whistleblower. What has he got? “Montgomery knows how the election was stolen,” Brannon replied, “and everything has been confirmed by other sources.” What other sources? Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney (retired) was one source. A shadowy (former?) intelligence official was alluded to. Well, I said, if it’s true then what are they waiting for? All was to be revealed in short order, Brannon promised.
Montgomery either had proof, or he didn’t. The election was then almost two months in the past. What was the point in holding onto vital evidence? The whole thing made no sense. Release it immediately. Let the whole country see it; but that was not to happen. Instead of anyone heroically proving election fraud, the events of January 6 brought images of citizens breaking into the Capitol. President Trump was de-platformed and discredited, the election fraud narrative was declared a threat to democracy. A chill ran through the conservative right as dissenters were kicked off Twitter, Facebook and Youtube).
If he had proof, why didn’t Montgomery come forward earlier? What had he been waiting for? I did a google search on Montgomery. There was a great deal of derogatory information about him. Why hadn’t Brannon mentioned this? I found several well-researched articles by a writer named Sharon Rondeau of The Post & Email. I found her phone number and put in a call, but did not get an immediate response. Oh well, I thought.
In the days that followed, I appeared one last time on Brannon’s evening show. Mary Fanning, Alan Jones, Lt. Gen. McInerny and Kirk Wiebe were also guests. They were promoting Dennis Montgomery’s alleged evidence of an election hack from overseas computers, published online for the first time. At last, we would see the proof that Brannon had been promising for two months. But all I saw was a chart filled with numbers. When you see something like this, you have to scratch your head. There was no way of knowing what you were looking at. Later, a computer expert told me those numbers were bogus.
After the show of that evening, there followed a group telephone conversation that lasted more than three hours. Mary Fanning and Alan Jones seemed amiable enough. Mary was flattering me, saying how much she liked my work. Should I be holding fast to my wallet? I mentioned Sharon Rondeau’s articles. Mary said Sharon’s work was a pack of lies that came from Mike Zullo, who had famously investigated Barack Obama’s birth certificate. “He is an agent of the deep state,” said Fanning. “He works for Jim Woolsey, the former CIA director.” This statement by Fanning was an outlandish claim on its face. Was Mary a crazed conspiracy theorist? I then mentioned two friends with intelligence background who had told me Montgomery was untrustworthy. “They are both deep state operatives,” said Fanning. “Bad actors.” What?! She was talking about two of my friends. What was I to make of this woman? The entire thing was baffling. These folks – Fanning, Jones, Wiebe, Howse and General McInerney – acted as if definitive proof had been presented that evening. Yet the proof was entirely invisible to the discerning eye. It was like a scene out of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen:
One day, two fellows calling themselves weavers came to town. They said that they knew how to weave cloth of the most beautiful colors and patterns. The clothes made from this wonderful cloth would be invisible to everyone who was unfit for the job he held, or who was very simple in character.
A couple days later Sharon Rondeau returned my call. She was very down-to-earth. I felt her genuineness immediately. Sharon said that if I wanted to see documentation on Montgomery’s background, I needed to connect with a detective who had spent 15 months investigating Montgomery. That detective was Mike Zullo, a former investigator for Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Sharon gave me Mike’s phone number. I called him and he put me through a crash course on Montgomery’s shady past. My first conversation with Mike lasted five hours. As a mere taste of what I learned, the reader is encouraged to peruse these FBI 302s:
Zullo, who had been tasked by Sheriff Arpaio to investigate Obama’s birth certificate more than a decade ago, was no agent of the “deep state” (as Fanning alleged). In 2012 his investigation of Obama concluded with expert testimony that the president’s electronic long form birth certificate was a photoshopped forgery. That is not something an agent of the “deep state” would have on his resume. As I plowed through the evidence, which included videotapes of Montgomery contradicting himself about his background, I began to worry. Why was this con artist inserting himself into the election narrative?
According to the testimony of lawyers, judges and cyber-experts, Dennis Montgomery had committed numerous frauds and perjuries. Even more curious, Montgomery had a felony fraud indictment hanging over him for the past 13 years. It had not been adjudicated in all that time. How was that possible? Had he made some kind of backroom deal with a law enforcement agency? Was he an FBI asset? Anything was now possible. In fact, Montgomery had already been outed as a fraudster in a 2010 Playboy article as “The man who conned the Pentagon.” Software he had been contracted to develop had reportedly proved to be “an elaborate hoax.” Montgomery’s former lawyer even described him as a “habitual liar engaged in fraud.” And that is merely for starters. I was dumbfounded. Brannon Howse was being hoaxed by a notorious grifter. This explained why the promised proof of an election cyber-hack was nowhere to be seen.
A few days later Mary Fanning called me to see how I was doing. “We ought to put our heads together,” she suggested. “Imagine what we could figure out.” Figuring things out was my favorite pastime. She’d done her homework on me. But I’d also done mine. I told her about my conversations with Zullo. She then told me a story. “Mike and I used to talk on the phone,” she said. “And one time he was very drunk, and he admitted to me that he worked for Jim Woolsey.” It was immediately apparent to me that Mary Fanning was not some ditzy conspiracy theorist. She was not telling me something that came from Dennis Montgomery. She was lying out of her own mouth. She was clearly attempting to discredit the one person who had investigated – and who had proof – that Dennis Montgomery was as phony as a three-dollar bill.
“Listen,” I said, “I’ve read this law suit from Montgomery’s former lawyer. He says in writing that Montgomery is a “con artist” and “habitual liar engaged in fraud.” Mary did not miss a beat. “The lawyer has retracted that statement,” she lied. “But Mary,” I said, “Nobody is backing up Montgomery’s story.” Mary did not miss a beat. “Tim Blixseth, Montgomery’s business partner, backs him up,” she lied again. (I later made an inquiry into this claim, and found that Fanning had tried to get Blixseth to back Montgomery’s claims, but Blixseth didn’t want anything to do with it.) Why was Mary Fanning lying to me? Not only had she whitewashed Montgomery’s background in her book, but she was ready to trash anyone who questioned Montgomery’s bona fides. Why was she covering up the truth? Why was she gaslighting me? What was her game?
I left the line realizing that Brannon Howse had gotten mixed up in something dangerous. Who was Mary Fanning? Why was she lying about Montgomery? – about Mike Zullo? Why did she slander two of my friends? It was now clear who the bad actor was. I needed to warn Brannon. Something bad had crawled into his life, and he was being set up. I brought my concerns directly to him, but he blew me off, asking if I had “done my homework on Zullo?” Yes, I have. Brannon then leveled the following accuasation against Zullo: “Montgomery has … documentation showing multiple contracts from multiple agencies [for Zullo]. Call Mary. She can tell you who is lying.” In a way, Mary had already told me who was lying. Her conversation a few days earlier had convinced me that she was the liar. She had slandered my friends. She had covered up Montgomery’s well-documented misdeeds. It was crazy. He was asking me to disbelieve my friends and believe instead in a woman who had lied to me. Brannon then mentioned the documentary he was working on with Mike Lindell – Absolute Proof. He said, “Our documentary does not mention Montgomery.”
What?! Were they now going to advance Montgomery’s narrative without using Montgomery’s name? But why?
The answer, of course, was painfully obvious. The cancer had just metastasized. Mary Fanning and Brannon Howse had approached Mike Lindell; – the wealthy, generous, patriotic Mike Lindell. How they did it, I have no idea; but these two had sold Lindell on the truthfulness of Dennis Montgomery. Worse yet, they were phasing Montgomery’s name from the public side of the narrative. Very dodgy, I thought. Henceforth, Montgomery’s name would not be front and center. As future “executive producers” of Lindell’s documentaries, they would refer to “the source,” or to “white hat hackers.” But as I had heard the story in its original form, and had more than one long conversation on Montgomery with Fanning and Howse, the situation was perfectly clear. They had sold Montgomery’s scam to Lindell. And Lindell, in his patriotic zeal, believed this would be the “absolute proof” that could return Trump to office.
The danger was now clear. What might the legal charges be if Mike Lindell publicized Montgomery’s fraudulent data about the election with the intention of overturning the presidency of Joseph Biden? Could the Justice Department prosecute this sort of thing as a crime? And who would they arrest? Could Donald Trump be named as a co-conspirator? Or was this merely a scheme to discredit the election audits and everything associated with them?
In the months that followed, I warned my friends to distrust the Montgomery narrative. I warned that the Absolute Proof documentary was a disguised form of that narrative. But these warnings went nowhere. They had no effect. I even worked with a handful of others to reach Lindell’s inner circle. But he would not believe our warning.
People in high places wanted Montgomery’s false election fraud narrative to gain traction. One respectable conservative scholar tried to set me straight. It was wrong to make a fuss about this, he said. I was being “academic,” he said. The truth did not matter because this was “politics.” If the American people were “saved by a deceptive narrative,” then it was a good thing. But I could not see, from the standpoint of Machiavelli himself, how this could end well.
Truth by algorithm?
As the year advanced, I began to hear about math wizards who were validating Montgomery’s narrative with “algorithms.” My background is in social science, and I know that using numbers to analyze social phenomena is an extremely tricky business. Since Montgomery is a fraud, and since I do not trust the woman who so ably promoted him, my skepticism necessarily extends to anyone who claims to validate this narrative; and that goes double for someone who is being paid.
For these and other reasons, the seconding of Montgomery’s claims by Dr. Douglas Frank drew my attention. This star performer, who appeared in Lindell’s documentary Absolute Interference, is alternately described on various websites as a chemist or as a physicist. He seems like a nice man, and perhaps he is competent in his field. Curiously, NBC in Columbus Ohio described him as a teacher at the Schilling Gifted School. Whatever his background and accomplishments, he is not an election expert or an epidemiologist.
To show how wrong Dr. Frank can be, last August Frank said the coronavirus had run its course in his home state of Ohio. But the number of COVID deaths in Ohio would accelerate three months later. In fact, the number of daily cases peaked in early winter – long after Frank authoritatively claimed the epidemic was winding down. (See Ohio cases.) In truth, Dr. Frank was seriously mistaken in his analysis of the COVID epidemic. Could he be mistaken in his support of Montgomery’s election fraud narrative (wholeheartedly adopted by Lindell)?
According to Dr. Frank, a foreign cyberattack on the election was accomplished through the deployment of an algorithm (i.e., some kind of a six-level polynomial which relies on a state-wide “data key”) which Dr. Frank has “discovered.” How does the algorithm prove Montgomery’s version of election fraud? This algorithm supposedly produces a detectable, artificial, pattern in the voting outcomes in thousands of U.S. counties – indicating that vote tallies across the board have been falsified by computer manipulation (i.e., by an algorithm inserted in a cyberattack against thousands of U.S. computers from abroad). Professor David Clements, a believer in Frank’s math, has assured me that “Dozens of expert mathematicians have verified” Frank’s work. “It’s not even in dispute,” adds Clements. But it is in dispute.
On the more wary side, Benjamin Engen of the Constellation Political website says that Dr. Frank’s underlying data points for Colorado are flat wrong. As someone who knows the Colorado numbers, Engen says that Dr. Frank is “using incorrect ballots cast figures as the basis for his entire analysis.” It is a case, says Engen, of “garbage in, garbage out.” Engen then links to Dr. Frank’s website where the erroneous data was posted, but the page has been taken down. “Sorry,” writes Engen parenthetically, “the host removed the link after this blog was published.” Whatever anyone says, taking down your own data without explanation is dodgy. If Dr. Frank made an honest mistake, why not admit it? What has not been taken down, of course, are links to various videos in which Frank can be seen referring to erroneous numbers. “Even more bizarre,” says Engen, “is the fact that even the raw data Frank supposedly used for his analysis doesn’t produce the figures he has been presenting.”
Engen says that Frank is “careful never to show the actual equation that he uses to produce his turnout estimates.” Engen shows screenshots of Frank’s presentation for Park County and Eagle County Colorado. Look closely, says Engen, Dr. Frank is not using the same equations. Well, yes, that does seem to be true. Frank, says Engen, “doesn’t show a single consistent ratio of … anything to anything.” Here Engen levels a direct accusation against Dr. Frank, saying, “He’s lying about how his forecast is derived.” As a Colorado Republican, Engen is not amused. “The most troubling piece of all this is that it seems clear that Dr. Frank arrived in Colorado knowing that his data was bad and intending to present it anyway.”
Defenders of Dr. Frank, like David Clements, point out that the Colorado Secretary of State has been “manipulating the data on her site.” – And that might be true; but is this the explanation for Dr. Frank’s errors regarding counties in Colorado? And if the Colorado data was wrong, or has been shifting, then how did Frank’s algorithm prove correct for Colorado in the first place? If different numbers are entered in the future, will the algorithm work yet again? And if plugging in any number suffices to “prove” the algorithm’s validity, can I plug in my bank statements and grocery store receipts to get a correlation? The whole thing is baffling, to be sure. And why did Dr. Frank take down the offending page on his site after Mr. Engen found data errors on it? And how on Earth can anyone explain the claim that other mathematicians have independently “replicated” Dr. Frank’s work? Is it a case of X(6) – X(6) + 1 always equaling 1? Does Frank’s polynomial equation homogenize numbers whatever they might be? In an interview with Clements, Frank says “It would take a week to share my source code.” Really? If that is true, then how has anyone managed to check Frank’s numbers? “It is my own instinctual stuff,” added Frank. “It is not transportable.”
Perhaps the most disturbing interaction attested to by Dr. Frank, is one more familiar to myself. During a broadcast session Dr. Frank was left in the studio while Mike Lindell went on a break. Suddenly, a woman’s voice broke out of nowhere: “Dr. Frank, are you really a physicist?” Dr. Frank was momentarily confused: “And I’m like what is that? And I didn’t realize that Mary Fanning was facetiming with the whole [show] – because she was producing it, she was watching it happen, and I didn’t realize she was there. And I said, ‘Hi Mary, nice to meet you.’ I still hadn’t met her at that point. ‘Why are you asking if I’m a physicist?’ And she says, ‘Well, early on, back in December, we had a physicist looking at our data; and he said it’s obvious that there are algorithms at work here; but it’s going to take a physicist to figure them out.’ – And I knew exactly what that meant, because that is exactly the way a physicist thinks. That is who I am. That’s the way I think. Absolutely, I’m the logical guy to figure it out. I have the experience. I think in that way. That’s exactly right. That’s a good story.”
A story, indeed! And, as a final crazy admission, Dr. Frank expressed confidence in his data because Lindell had “hired Mission Impossible secret agent type people” who “broke into those computers … and took digital images of the [offending] computers, proving that there were actually people executing the commands when those were taking place.” According to Frank, Lindell “spent a lot of money on this.”
What I wonder is: How much money did Lindell spend on Dr. Frank? And did he get his money’s worth?
I am very hard on Dr. Frank because – sincere or not – he is advancing what I consider to be a false narrative dangerous to the country. He is advancing the narrative of Dennis Montgomery. So here is my challenge to Dr. Frank: If Montgomery is not a fraud, why has his role in this narrative been hidden since January? If Fanning is honest, why doesn’t anyone know what she looks like? Why has her image been scrubbed from the Internet? Why was I the only person in the United States, who was approached by Fanning, to check into Montgomery’s bona fides by reaching out to Mike Zullo? If Mike Lindell says he vetted Montgomery’s information, why didn’t his investigators talk to Zullo? And why, after all this time, has this narrative continued to get so much attention – especially from Steve Bannon’s War Room? Mike Lindell is now sponsoring a Cyber Symposium from August 10th – 12th in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
I make the following appeal to Mike Lindell: I beg you, Mike, do not hold this Symposium in August. It could be a trap, or worse than a trap.
notes and links
THE HAMMER is the Key to the Coup “The Political Crime of the Century”: How Obama, Brennan, Clapper, and the CIA spied on President Trump, General Flynn … and everyone else – Kindle edition by Fanning, Mary, Jones, Alan. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
Dr. Frank gets the Pandemic wrong – NBC4 – It’s all about the numbers, and Dr. Douglas Frank… | Facebook
Actual pandemic data for Ohio – Ohio COVID: 1,118,513 Cases and 20,449 Deaths – Worldometer (worldometers.info)
Benjamin Engen critiques Dr. Frank’s analysis – Constellation Data & Analytics (constellationpolitical.com)
David Clements Interview with Dr. Douglas Frank – Home / The Record Collection | Mysite (theprofessorsrecord.com)
Judge characterizes Montgomery – Microsoft Word – 07cv2513 o-Findings of Fact 5-13-16.docx (abc15.com)
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