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AT&T not conducting voting machine audit near Nashville explosion site

December 28, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: AT&T got a contract to do a forensic audit of Dominion Voting Systems machines and those machines were recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee — to the same AT&T building that was damaged in a Christmas morning explosion.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. AT&T did not have a contract to audit Dominion machines and was not holding Dominion machines in its Nashville building, both companies confirmed to The Associated Press. Authorities still don’t know the reason for the Christmas day bombing, but there’s no evidence it was election related.

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THE FACTS: As federal officials work to piece together a motive for the blast that rattled downtown Nashville on Christmas morning, social media users have invented their own far-fetched theories.

One theory shared thousands of times on Facebook over the weekend tries to connect the explosion to voting machines used in the Nov. 3 election.

“AT&T got a contract to do forensic audit on Dominion voting machines and those machines were being moved to Nashville this past week,” read one post. “So, the explosion ‘just happened’ to be at the AT&T location where they ‘just so happen’ to control the cooling system for the super computer and house the dominion voting machines and drives for forensic audit…”

“Wait, the bombing in Nashville was at the AT&T data center right after they got the contract to audit the Dominion voting machines?” read another post. “That’s an interesting coincidence.”

These claims are groundless. Spokespeople for AT&T and Dominion confirmed to the AP that AT&T had no contract to audit Dominion machines, and no Dominion machines were to be sent to Nashville.

Some of the posts attempted to further link AT&T to Dominion by claiming a former owner of the AT&T building was a board member of a firm that owns Dominion.

Cerberus Capital Management, the firm named in the posts, does not own Dominion, nor does it own the company that does own Dominion, Staple Street Capital.

“Dominion has no connection to AT&T, the building, Nashville, family members of the Bidens or the Clintons, and Staple Street is not owned by Cerberus,” said Tony Fratto, a partner at the PR firm Hamilton Place Strategies who emailed the AP on behalf of Dominion. “These are conspiracies manufactured out of whole cloth.”

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Dominion has been the target of a wide range of false posts since American voters chose Joe Biden as their next president, despite no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities in the 2020 election.

It’s true that an AT&T-owned building in Nashville was one of many buildings damaged in Friday’s bombing, causing widespread communications outages.

Federal officials have identified the man believed to be behind the bombing, and they are working to discern a motive.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536