Ohio County 'Shocked' After Mike Lindell Event Shares Its Computers' Data, Spurs FBI Probe

An Ohio county was "shocked" after screen shots from its computer system were shared at MyPillow founder Mike Lindell's cyber symposium in August to promote baseless claims of election fraud.

Lindell has been a key promoter of former President Donald Trump's unfounded conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was "rigged" or "stolen" in favor of President Joe Biden. Although Lindell and others continue to spread the misinformation, the "evidence" they have brought forward to support their theory has been consistently discredited and debunked.

During an August cyber symposium organized by Lindell, screen shots from a Lake County computer system not involved in conducting elections were shared as alleged "evidence" of election fraud, The Washington Post first reported on Friday.

Lake County official quickly began looking into the issue, confused by how and why the information was used in Lindell's event.

"We were shocked that sleepy little Lake County, where nobody had ever made a suggestion of election malfeasance, was suddenly being splashed around a cyber symposium," Lake County auditor Christopher Galloway told Cleveland.com.

Galloway said he quickly began working with county and state officials to see how the data had been accessed and shared.

Mike Lindell
Data from an Ohio county computer system was shared at My Pillow founder Mike Lindell's cyber symposium in August. In this photo, Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House on January 15 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Galloway pointed out that the screen shots and data shared at Lindell's symposium was "a lot of nothing." He explained that "it was some copier talking to a desktop saying 'I am still here waiting for you to send me a print job.'"

He told Cleveland.com that someone in the Lake County commissioners' offices appears to have plugged a laptop into an ethernet port on the day of Ohio's May 4 primaries to access and copy the bogus data for several hours.

State and county officials shared their findings with the FBI, which is reportedly investigating. However, they have confirmed that no significant data was compromised.

"We are thrilled that our infrastructure stayed strong," Ross McDonald, director of the Lake County Board of Elections, told the Post.

McDonald also explained to Cleveland.com that the Elections Board's data is "fully segmented from the county networks," asserting that there's no way someone could breach the elections system.

"Cybersecurity has taken a strong hold in Ohio's boards of elections," he said.

Galloway told Newsweek that "neither myself nor my IT staff have had any contact with Mr. Lindell or his associates," in a Saturday email.

A spokesperson for the secretary of state's office asserted that there was "no breech" of sensitive data when reached by Newsweek. The secretary of state's office told Cleveland.com that its findings were sent to the FBI and the state's attorney general for further investigation.

Lindell told the Post that the data was circulated at the symposium by a "rogue" attendee without his approval.

"It's concerning that somebody would—especially somebody in a government office, somebody who is an elected official, or somebody who's part of county government—would not realize all of those safeguards exist and would try to engage in some sort of a vigilante investigation," Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, told the Post. "The good news is that our system of cyber security in Ohio is among the best in the nation."

Although Lindell's efforts have not uncovered credible evidence of widespread election fraud, he continues to claim that he will file a challenge to the 2020 election results directly with the Supreme Court with the support of states' attorneys general. He has asserted that he believes the high court will rule 9-to-0 to throw out the presidential election results.

Despite the claims of Trump and Lindell, no evidence has been brought forward to substantiate their theories. On the contrary, more than 60 election challenge lawsuits have failed in state and federal courts. Even judges appointed by Trump and other Republicans have rejected the allegations. Meanwhile, audits and recounts across the country have consistently reaffirmed Biden's victory.

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who was widely viewed as one of Trump's most loyal Cabinet members, said in December that there was "no evidence" of widespread fraud that would change the election results.

Additionally, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security asserted that the 2020 election was the "most secure in American history" while it was still led by a Trump appointee last year.

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts