Released in December 2023, the movie “State of Denial" recycles election fraud theories from “2000 Mules” that have already been disproven.
On top of the many independent investigations that debunked the film, one of the film’s own experts slipped up and admitted to the falsehoods in court.
What is “State of Denial” About?
The movie centers on the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election in which Kari Lake, a news anchor and former Democrat, ran as the Republican candidate for governor against Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Though Hobbs won the election by a margin of 17,000 votes, Lake was angry and made allegations of election fraud, which the film unsuccessfully attempts to substantiate.
“State of Denial”: Review the Claims
1. Election Machine Malfunctions Claim
The film alleges that issues with voting machines in Maricopa County on election day were part of a deliberate effort to prevent votes from being cast. In reality, the issue with the machines was due to their printer settings not leaving dark enough ‘timing marks’ on its ballots. The printer settings were fixed and the issue was quickly resolved.
Following the incident, Maricopa County supervisor Bill Gates (no relation), a lifelong Republican, thoroughly reviewed the incident and confirmed that all votes had been properly counted. Gates’ findings were later reviewed and confirmed by an independent investigation, led by former Arizona supreme court justice Ruth McGregor.
2. Wrong-sized Ballots Claim
Another member of Lake’s team who testified in the film was Clay Parikh, a cybersecurity expert who claimed ballots had been printed in the wrong size and would therefore be unable to be counted. According to Parikh, 19-inch ballot images were printed on 20-inch paper, which he claims would cause the ballot-reading machines to be unable to count them. The film shows footage of Parikh in court making this argument, however, it cuts out a significant portion of Parikh’s testimony, where after counter-examination, he admits that the misprint ballots would still have been counted properly.
3. No Chain of Custody Claim
The film also parrots Lake’s claims that mail-in ballots were improperly handled by Runbeck election services, allowing false ballots to be added into the chain of command. This echoes the message of Dinesh D’Souza’s film 2000 Mules, which alleges voter fraud in the 2020 election. D’Souza’s theory has been thoroughly discredited. Lake was a proponent of these theories prior to her own election, and essentially copied Trump’s claims in an attempt to overturn the results of her election. In the film, Lake’s team repeatedly states that over 300,000 mail-in ballots did not have a chain of command. This was reviewed and dismissed by a judge in December 2022, due to the fact that every ballot was proven to have had a unique barcode and chain of custody. Whether by trial, audit, or the admission of her own experts, all of Lake’s claims laid forth in “State of Denial” were debunked long before the film’s release.
Who Wrote “State of Denial”?
“State of Denial” was written by a four person team - Matt Thayer, Scott Anders, Kevin Moncla, and Kurt Olsen. Thayer is also the film’s director and served as an Executive Producer with Olsen. Olsen was a member of Lake’s legal team, who currently faces disbarment due to his conduct during Lake’s multiple failed trials. Kevin Moncla is currently under investigation by the FBI due to emails he sent to the Georgia State Election board complaining about 2020 election results, and was convicted of spying on his houseguests in the bathroom in 2006. Little information is available on Scott Anders.
The film features two of Lake’s attorneys: Bryan Blehm and the aforementioned Kurt Olsen. Blehm, a divorce attorney with no political background, admits in the film that he was only selected for the case due to other lawyers’ unwillingness to work with Lake. Like Olsen, Behm is currently facing disbarment due to their conduct during the multiple failed trials.
The film also boasts several ‘experts’ - Clay Parikh, who admitted in court that his claims of misprinted ballots would not have affected ballots being counted, Shelby Busch, whose repeated claim throughout the film that mail-in ballots had no chain of command has been disproven in court, and Kurt Olsen, Lake’s lawyer who wrote and funded the movie. Just as Olsen lacks any substantial history of working in political law, so too does his movie lack any substantial evidence that has not already been thoroughly discredited.
“State of Denial” is only available to watch on its own website. The “State of Denial” website is copyrighted by Build Back Trust Again, or BBTA. No information about BBTA can be found, and a click on its web link simply redirects you to the “State of Denial” website. The address of incorporation for BBTA is 800 N. King Street in Wilmington, Delaware. None of the film’s creators live or work in Delaware.