Conservative activist and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza told a conservative podcast that ‘2000 Mules’, his film making flawed and misguided claims about voter fraud in 2020, directly led to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office opening. an investigation – but the sheriff says that’s just not true.

“The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office has been working jointly with the Yuma County Recorder’s Office and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office regarding allegations of voter misconduct for over a year,” said Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot in a statement emailed to Arizona Mirror.

“These ongoing investigations are not related to or inspired by any movie or celebrity, but rather facts and evidence regarding the violation of Arizona law,” Wilmot added. “I do not know, and have never communicated with, people who now claim that I am investigating on their behalf or because of supposed inspiration from a documentary film.”

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Wilmot was responding to the shimmerquestions about comments made by D’Souza on Jason Whitlock’s “Fearless” podcast. The far-right provocateur said Wilmot saw a screening of the film ‘2000 Mules’ and “went mad” afterwards.

“The sheriff of Yuma saw our film, went crazy and started an investigation in Yuma, Arizona and I think there will be arrests very soon,” D’Souza said on the podcast, which is produced and distributed by the conservative media company Blaze. Media.

D’Souza did not respond to a request for comment.

The film alleges that using geolocation data purchased by the filmmakers, they were able to track ‘voting mules’ to drop off ballot boxes where they falsely claim the ‘mules’ were paid to fill the ballot boxes with ballots ballots completed. The practice, pejoratively called ballot harvesting, is illegal in Arizona and many other states.

Wilmot announced last week that his office and the county registrar’s office are investigating voter fraud cases from 2020, but there is no indication that any of the cases involve the film’s claims. Instead, YCSO said the cases include impersonation fraud, false registrations, duplicate voting and fraudulent use of mail-in ballots.

Since D’Souza made his comments, others have latched on, including the founder of the American project and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne.

In a video posted on Rumble, a video streaming service favored by the far-right, Byrne said the Yuma investigation was a direct response to the film. Byrne’s organization was biggest funder of the Arizona Senate’s “audit” of the presidential election.

Byrne was also a leading voice in 2020 voter fraud claims and rose up against the so-called deep state. Byrne attended an hour-long meeting at the White House during the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency in which he, attorney Sidney Powell and disgraced retired general Michael Flynn urged the president to overturn the election and impose martial law.

I do not know, and have never communicated with, people who now claim that I am investigating on their behalf or because of supposed inspiration from a documentary film.

– Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot

D’Souza’s film has been criticized for many of its false claims, including that the geolocation data used is so precise that it helped solve a murder. The film is based on a San Luis, Arizona whistleblower who claimed to have seen people being paid for collecting ballots. The film contains no evidence of these payments.

An analysis of the film’s claims by the Associated press found numerous problems with the analysis of the data that D’Souza and True the Vote, a conservative advocacy group, carried out to reach their conclusions. For example, there is no accounting for people with multiple mobile devices that could create pings in geolocation data or people who are elections or campaign workers who would regularly pass by areas where boxes are located. deposit. Other fact checkers have also carried out an independent analysis of the complaints and found them to be faulty.

D’Souza has a history of making controversial films.

His first film, “2016: Obama’s America,” made more money at the box office than any political documentary since “Fahrenheit 9/11.” earning him the nickname the “conservative Michael Moore”.

Several of D’Souza’s films have focused on his political enemiesas well as mentioning his condemnation for campaign finance fraud. Trump pardoned D’Souza for this crime.

“2000 Mules” has gained a fervent following among Arizona Republicans and within the broader right-wing ecosystem.

“Have you ever seen #2000Mules? Oro Valley Republican and Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem posted on Twitter.

Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake hosted a screening of the film earlier this month with voter fraud promoter and pillow salesman Mike Lindell, charge up to $2,000 to participate. Paul Gosar, Republican Congressman from Prescott, Senator Sonny Borrelli, Representative Leo Biasucci, Finchem and former State Senator David Farnsworth was also present.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced in 2020 that two Yuma County women had been charged under the Ballot Harvesting Act. D’Souza promoted these lawsuits on social networks in an attempt to back up his film’s claims, but spread false information about these cases in the process. He claimed the case was “exploded by the FBI”, but was investigated by local law enforcement and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.