PHOENIX (CBS 5/3TV) - It was the news Trump supporters had been waiting for. Auditors had found evidence that Maricopa County elections officials had deleted election files.
The claim made national headlines and elicited a statement from former President Donald Trump. "The entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED," wrote the former president.
The problem is, the claim was incorrect. The man who initially made the statement admitted he had been able to recover the database in question. County officials said this was evidence the auditors did not know what they were doing.
That man at the center of that claim, Ben Cotton, found himself at the center of a political tempest. But a look at his professional history shows he's been there before.
Cotton is the founder of a digital security firm called "CyFIR, LLC." It's based in Virginia. According to descriptions found online, the company helps businesses defend against hackers, and recover from malicious online attacks.
In 2015, Cotton claimed to be the first to detect one of the largest data breaches in the in federal government history. Hackers had accessed the records of more than 4 million federal government employees.
Federal investigators did not dispute that Cotton and his hack-detecting technology identified the breach. But they concluded that government investigators already were already aware of the hack, and were monitoring it.
Cotton became a hero to Republicans in Congress as they accused the Obama Administration of being lax on internet security.
SEC documents show Cotton filed paperwork to raise financing for his company in 2018. The documents indicate the company, CyFIR, had no revenue at the time and that Cotton was hoping to raise $10 million.
Last week, during a meeting with the president of the Arizona State Senate, Cotton walked back his claim that election files had been deleted from the Maricopa County computer system. "Subsequently, I have recovered all of those deleted files and I have access to that data," said Cotton.
In April, Cotton submitted an affidavit in court in Michigan, that indicated he had found vulnerabilities in election computers there. A judge dismissed that case.
CyFIR officials did not respond to requests for comment on this story.