Retired Army Colonel Who Circulated PowerPoint Denying Election Addresses Louisiana Election Commission

Phil Waldron, the retired Army Col. who circulated a PowerPoint offering suggestions on how to quash the 2020 election, spoke for about 90 minutes during an Election Commission hearing in Louisiana earlier this week.

Waldron presented the commission, which is responsible for updating the state’s voting system, with a separate PowerPoint claiming that Louisiana’s electoral system was “vulnerable to bogus voters, bogus ballots” and ” false accounts “. He lamented the “black box” voting machines and urged the 13-member Voting System Commission to instead implement a system based solely on the manual counting of ballots. Several members of the committee said that such a system would be difficult to implement and would lengthen the process of reporting votes.

Election fraud is extremely rare. An Associated Press investigation of the 2020 election in the swing-contested states found fewer than 500 questionable votes, well below the margin of victory in each state.

His presentation to the commission was first reported by the Washington Post.

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, chairman of the committee and Republican, announced Waldron’s invitation last month. Waldron’s involvement with the pre-Jan. 6 PowerPoint came under intense scrutiny earlier this month after former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows submitted a similar slideshow to the Special House Committee investigating the Capitol riot.

Introducing Waldron on Tuesday, Ardoin hinted at the presence of the prominent election denier’s “fan club” and members of the public cheered and applauded Waldron. John Tobler, a spokesperson for Ardoin, told NBC News in a statement that “a group of citizens” asked Waldron to be invited to speak to the panel.

“We have chosen to offer ‘Waldron and other witnesses’ an opportunity to address the committee and answer follow-up questions from members,” Tobler said.

Retired Col. Phil Waldron poses for a photo at his distillery in Dripping Springs, Texas, Dec. 2, 2021.Aram Roston / Reuters

Waldron’s role in promoting pro-Trump election conspiracies gained new attention after Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Chairman of the Jan.6 committee, referred to an email Jan.5 about the matter of a 38-page PowerPoint briefing titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for JAN 6”, in a letter last week to Meadows.

The title corresponded to a 36-page PowerPoint document that circulated online shortly thereafter. While the exact origins of this document are unknown, it appears to have first surfaced online in its entirety in early January. Waldron said he contributed to the document and informed congressional lawmakers before Jan.6, telling the Washington Post that he visited the White House after Trump was defeated.

The presentation includes baseless claims that China and Venezuela have taken control of the US electoral system and that there has been widespread electoral fraud in eight states. Other slides suggested a plan for the Trump administration to “declare e-voting invalid in all states,” call a national emergency and seize the ballots. The slideshow also called on then-Vice President Mike Pence to seat alternate voters from swing states that Trump has lost, reject voters from those states, or delay the official count to Jan.6 – the date. fixed by the Constitution for the official count of the electoral college. votes, a step that affirms the victory of an elected president.

Constitutionalists said there was no legal basis for Pence to intervene, while a number of ballot recounts and courts repeatedly confirmed Biden’s victory last fall and did not reveal any evidence of widespread fraud.

The presentation was one of a handful of documents outlining reasons for the cancellation of the election or failure to follow written and disseminated results by Trump’s allies or by people sympathetic to his baseless allegations of systemic voter fraud.

Meadows’ attorney, George J. Terwilliger III, told the New York Times and the Washington Post that Meadows submitted the document to the committee because “it was not protected,” adding that Meadows received the document and did not had done nothing.

Terwilliger did not respond to an NBC News request for comment. It is not yet clear who sent the presentation to Meadows.