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‘The Rundown’: Former Overstock CEO sued over election fraud conspiracy theory

Your Wednesday morning Utah political cheat sheet

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Dominion sues former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne for $1.73 billion

Dominion Voting Systems on Tuesday filed suit against former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne for pushing conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. The suit says Byrne has repeatedly and falsely claimed that Dominion voting machines flipped votes for Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Dominion is asking for at least $1.73 billion.

The opening line of the 150-page complaint is muy caliente.

“After blowing up his career at Overstock by having an affair with a Russian spy, Patrick Byrne soon found himself a new pet project: promoting the false narrative that the 2020 election had been stolen,” it reads.

The suit goes on to claim Byrne bankrolled an effort before the election to manufacture proof of fraud. It also alleges Byrne stands to financially benefit by sowing distrust of election systems as he holds a stake in blockchain voting systems.

The suit details an impromptu December 18, 2020 meeting at the White House where Byrne and lawyer Sidney Powell and General Michael Flynn met with then-President Donald Trump and his advisors. Trump’s team pushed back against election fraud claims, saying there was no evidence to support what they were alleging.

One staffer pointed out Powell had lost every election lawsuit she had brought. Powell countered that “every judge is corrupt.”

“That’s your argument? Even the judges we appointed? Are you out of your f---ing mind?” said White House senior advisor Eric Herschmann.

Powell and Flynn then trashed the FBI, the DOJ, and Attorney General Bill Barr, arguing they were corrupt and should be fired. Byrne chimed in, arguing that “guys with big guns and badges” should seize Dominion voting machines around the country.

“What are you, three years old?” Herschmann responded.

After that meeting, Byrne lost access to the White House and Trump. The suit says that’s when Byrne started peddling his election conspiracy theories to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell.

Byrne did not respond to a request for comment.

The suit asks for at least $600 million in damages for lost profit, $1 billion for lost goodwill and value because of Byrne’s conspiracy theories, $600,000 because the company had to hire extra security due to threats prompted by his claims of fraud and $700,000 for expenses they incurred pushing back against Byrne’s misinformation.

On Tuesday, Dominion also filed massive lawsuits against right-wing media outlets Newsmax and OANN.


Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday morning

😷 The Salt Lake County Health Department will issue a mask mandate for children in kindergarten through 6th grade when schools resume. The GOP-controlled county council will meet Thursday to decide whether to override the order. [Tribune]

🗳 Republican Jake Hunsaker announced he’s challenging freshman Rep. Burgess Owens for the GOP nomination next year. [Tribune]

🗳 A proposed ballot initiative would completely change how Utah conducts elections. The current system would be replaced with a “jungle” nonpartisan primary. The top five finishers advance to the general election, which uses ranked-choice voting. [Tribune]

🏛 The Senate approved a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan. Sen. Mitt Romney celebrated the achievement, calling the bill a “once-in-a-generation investment.” [Tribune]

🏛 The U.S. Senate also passed a $3.5 trillion budget plan, a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. [NYT]

🏛 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he plans to resign following a report he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women. He’ll be replaced by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York’s first female governor. [Politico]

🗳 Here are the first round of returns from Tuesday’s primary elections. [Tribune]

🦠 Polling shows most Americans support vaccine and mask mandates, but that does not include Republicans, who are overwhelmingly opposed. [Politico]

💉 Citigroup is mandating employees get the COVID-19 vaccine before they return to its corporate offices. [CNBC]

🚨 The Biden administration is reportedly preparing for the possibility that the Taliban could seize Afghanistan’s capital city with 30 days. [WaPo]

🚓 The Texas House speaker signed arrest warrants for the Democrats who fled the state to block legislation to restrict voting rights. [WaPo]

🤔 The National Security Agency’s internal watchdog is looking into allegations made by Fox News Host Tucker Carlson that the agency was spying on him. [WSJ]


Wednesday morning’s Utah news roundup

COVID

  • Dr. Angela Dunn talks about ‘memo-gate,’ being ‘pushed out’ and Utah’s COVID politics. [Tribune]

  • Utah County now has the state’s worst coronavirus outbreaks — but also the fastest-rising vaccination rates. Here’s why. [Tribune]

  • Moab issues mask mandate for city facilities. [Tribune]

Utah

  • LDS Church moves to quash James Huntsman’s lawsuit seeking to recover millions in tithing. [Tribune]

  • Plans for The Point would create a new ‘15-minute’ city in Draper to replace Utah’s prison. [Tribune]

  • ‘I can hardly look anyone in the eye’: St. George’s homeless feel shame in the conservative culture. [Tribune]

  • Some students concerned about privacy as University of Utah police start wearing bodycams. [Tribune]

  • Utah National Guard prepares to deploy 50 members to U.S.-Mexico border. [KUTV]

Weather

  • When will the smoke leave northern Utah? Looks like Wednesday night. [Tribune]

  • Coughing? Itchy eyes? Lingering wildfire smoke could be the cause. [Deseret News]

— The Tribune’s Jordan Miller contributed to this newsletter.

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