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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Dominion: Michigan Republican Colbeck ‘duped thousands’ with election lies

Patrick Colbeck
Former state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, a Michigan Republican who ran for governor in 2018, is facing the threat of legal action over claims he made about the 2020 presidential election. (Bridge file photo)

LANSING — An election equipment company that has already sued former Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for defamation is now threatening legal action against a former Michigan senator who has echoed their false claims in presentations across the state.

Attorneys for Dominion Voting Systems on Friday sent a 14-page letter to Patrick Colbeck, a Canton Township Republican and 2018 gubernatorial candidate, refuting his various assertions about the 2020 election and demanding he “set the record straight” by retracting what the company calls false statements.

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“Make no mistake—Dominion will hold you accountable for these lies,” attorneys Thomas Clare and Megan Meier told Colbeck, accusing him of a “disinformation campaign” and reminding the former state legislator to preserve any and all materials that could be relevant in future litigation. 

“The harm you have caused Dominion in Michigan and beyond is irreparable,” the letter said. 

Colbeck, who did not respond to a voicemail from Bridge Michigan seeking comment, was featured in a February movie produced by MyPillow CEO and Trump supporter Mike Lindell that alleged Democrats and foreign governments orchestrated widespread election fraud to steal the 2020 election from former President Donald Trump. 

Michigan has played a prominent role in that conspiracy theory, and Colbeck has been a pied piper: He’s spent months meeting with Republican groups across the state to deliver a PowerPoint presentation he calls the “case for MI Decertification” of an election that was officially certified Nov. 23. 

Bridge Michigan obtained a copy of the PowerPoint, an 87-slide version prepared by Colbeck and circulated in February by the Wayne-12th Congressional District Republican Committee. It references Dominion Voting Systems 29 times, and includes a 20-page section titled “Dominion Security Vulnerabilities.”

The presentation leans heavily on what it calls a “forensic” analysis of Antrim County voting equipment performed by a little-known organization called the “Allied Security Operations Group,” that has been widely criticized by election officials and independent experts. 

That analysis “contains an extraordinary number of false, inaccurate, or unsubstantiated statements and conclusions,” according to J. Alex Halderman, an election technology expert at the University of Michigan who spent months examining Antrim and released his own 54-page report in late March. 

A series of mistakes by staff in Antrim County led to an election night reporting error that awarded about 6,000 Trump votes to President Joe Biden. But those errors were quickly acknowledged by the Republican clerk and fixed two days later. Biden still won Michigan by 154,188 votes.

Antrim has remained a focal point of pro-Trump conspiracies, however, as Colbeck and others repeat Allied Security’s claim of a 68 percent “error rate” by Dominion equipment used in the rural county. 

That statistic is “meaningless” and represents a misunderstanding of the voting machine log, which can record multiple error lines for “benign” errors like a ballot being fed the wrong way into a tabulator, according to Halderman.

In Friday’s letter, Dominion noted that Allied Security’s head Russell Ramsland confused Michigan and Minnesota townships in one of Sidney Powell’s election lawsuits. Colbeck’s presentation also relies on claims from another “expert” who claimed to have discovered unexplainable voting anomalies in a place labeled as Edison County, Michigan, which does not exist. 

“You successfully duped thousands of people across Michigan into believing that the 2020 election was stolen through the manipulation of vote counts in Dominion machines, and you have reaped the benefits from it,” attorneys wrote Colbeck, suggesting he used the presentation to raise significant “contributions” for a private company he runs. 

Colbeck solicited donations through his LetsFixStuff website during a Jan. 25 presentation to the Wayne County Republican Committee, according to audio obtained by Bridge Michigan. He also referenced litigation and legal threats by Dominion and appeared to acknowledge he had already received a warning from the election equipment company. 

“Dominion is on a slash-and-burn offensive… to silence anybody who talks up,” Colbeck told fellow Republicans, referencing a lawsuit against Giuliani filed earlier that same day. “A lot of people on this call probably received a cease-and-desist letter from Dominion trying to shut them down.”

In that virtual meeting, Colbeck also repeated his claim that machines used to count absentee ballots in Detroit were connected to the internet and could therefore be susceptible to hacking, a claim that a Republican-appointed judge deemed “not credible.” 

And he cited unofficial results data used by news sites as evidence Dominion machines used rank choice voting (an electoral system used in some places that allows voters to rank their voting preference), which experts and company officials have repeatedly claimed is not true. 

Colbeck also claimed “real collusion” between Dominion and foreign countries, suggesting the election was a “coup” by Democrats. 

His presentation echoes Powell’s sensational claims that Dominion was at the center of an international conspiracy to rig the 2020 election. The company is controlled by the Communist Party — “they embedded anything they wanted (on voting machines)!” — and has ties to Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, he alleged.

Dominion sued Powell in March seeking $1.3 billion, but her defense attorneys have argued “no reasonable people” could have taken her claims as fact, arguing that her public statements about Dominion amounted to protected political opinions in litigation and on cable news programs.

In its Friday letter, Dominion lawyers said Colbeck should know better. 

“We do not yet fully understand why someone of your intelligence, academic pedigree, and experience would deliberately mislead the world about the integrity of an American election,” Dominion attorneys told Colbeck, who worked as an aerospace engineer before winning political office in 2010. 

“We strongly suspect that you maintain political aspirations and will run for governor again in Michigan in 2022.” 

But that was not the case in January, when Colbeck told the Wayne County Republican Committee that he did not plan to run for elected office again in 2022. 

“I’ll be honest with everybody,” he said, “I’m a little concerned about the integrity of the election.”

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