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Who is Heather Honey? The Pa. investigator with history of election denialism was called on by the Arizona GOP in failed Kari Lake trial.

After testifying in Kari Lake's unsuccessful bid to the overturn the 2022 Arizona governor's race, its star witness is continuing to press her case in Pennsylvania.

FILE - A voting sign points voters in the right direction to drop off ballots in Phoenix, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.
FILE - A voting sign points voters in the right direction to drop off ballots in Phoenix, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.Read moreRoss D. Franklin / AP

When right-wing firebrand Kari Lake challenged her narrow November defeat in the Arizona governor’s race, her star witness was an obscure woman with the memorable name of Heather Honey, a murky backstory as a private investigator, and an equally unlikely hometown: Lebanon, Pa.

Honey’s courtroom testimony alleging election misconduct in heavily populated Maricopa County didn’t sway a judge who tossed out Lake’s challenge, but the certification of Lake’s 17,000-vote loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs didn’t stop Honey from gaining a new platform and fans. Last week, a video snippet of an exchange between her and Hobbs’ lawyer garnered hundreds of thousands of views.

After the Lake trial, Honey has continued the mission that has consumed her for more than two years: disputing the validity of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over Donald Trump in her home state.

Who is Heather Honey?

Honey is the founder of Haystack Investigations, a Lebanon-based firm whose website says it belongs to the Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Investigators. However, federal records show Haystack LLC’s address belongs to a Lebanon UPS office.

The association’s website says that Honey is an investigator with over 30 years’ experience in private, corporate, and government investigations, and that she is an open source intelligence analyst and security consultant.

Honey is also the founder of Verity Vote, an organization that bills itself as an “election integrity research and investigations” group.

After “encountering suspicious circumstances” while voting in 2020, Honey began a campaign to obtain electronic election records in Pennsylvania to compare them with the work of election officials in counting total votes.

Verity Vote falsely claims that “hundreds of thousands” of ballots were sent to unverified voters in Pennsylvania ahead of the midterm election, and makes other unfounded allegations, including that absentee voters who had never lived in the United States influenced the results.

The group also claims Pennsylvania had a “voter deficit” in the 2020 election that left over 100,000 votes unaccounted for — a false claim that has since been debunked.

Verity Vote and Haystack Investigations did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

What did Honey allege in Arizona?

Honey’s firm was alleged to have participated in Arizona’s GOP-funded audit of the 2020 election, earning her a spot among Lake’s witnesses.

That year, Haystack Investigations was reportedly contracted by the now-defunct cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas during the six-month, multimillion-dollar audit — one that confirmed Biden’s victory in the state.

Honey denied that she was contracted by Cyber Ninjas in an email on Dec. 31.

In Lake’s December trial, the candidate’s legal team made flagrant claims similar to the ones levied by Verity Votes, including that “hundreds of thousands” of illegal ballots were cast in Maricopa County. Lake’s team cited several issues with voting machines on Election Day, including problems with ballot printers — issues that state election officials ultimately resolved.

Honey argued that election workers improperly inserted ballots into Arizona’s system and claimed that the county failed to provide her chain-of-custody documents for ballots that were dropped off on Election Day — to which a Maricopa County attorney argued Honey did not understand the types of documents issued.

Citing a claim made by an employee of a company responsible for scanning the state’s ballots, Honey also alleged that workers had collected at least 50 ballots on behalf of their family members. A Maricopa County elections director admitted he did not know the third-party company permitted its employees to drop off ballots for family members.

Honey, however, said it was “not answerable” when questioned about how many other ballots had been supposedly injected into the system.

On Friday, Dec. 24, a judge ruled against Lake.

What has happened in Honey’s Pennsylvania case?

Honey recently won an appeal in the Court of Common Pleas, where she and several GOP party members sought copies of records from the 2020 election in Lycoming County, home to Williamsport and around 185 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The suit brought about a lengthy judicial decision discussing whether electronic voting records should be made publicly available. On Dec. 16, a judge ordered the Lycoming County Office of Voter Services to turn over a digital copy of the “cast vote record,” which Honey’s lawyers described as a digital tally of the county’s votes, one that is randomized and does not reveal personal voter information.

State election officials, however, disagree.

In June, the Associated Press reported that Gov. Tom Wolf’s acting secretary of state attempted to intervene in the Lycoming case, and refuted that the record was a digital tally because they are considered unprocessed and have the potential to expose voters’ identities.

Lycoming County denied Honey’s request for electronic records in 2021, arguing that they were equivalent to the contents of ballot boxes, which Pennsylvania deems off limits for public inspection. A yearlong pursuit ensued, with Honey making multiple appeals to the state’s Department of Open Records citing Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know laws.

Honey was ordered to receive the copies in January 2023 unless an appeal is filed. The Department of State declined to comment, citing active litigation.

Election officials have continuously refuted GOP claims of election fraud. To date, there have been fewer than 500 documented cases of potential fraud across the six battleground states that played key roles in the 2020 election, a number that would have made no difference in the electoral outcome.