Republican Mark Brnovich, the Attorney General of Arizona, sent a letter to Maricopa County officials, warning them to comply with an election audit subpoena issued by the state senate. Failure to do so will result in the county losing out on state funds. The subpoena was issued by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann and Senator Warren Petersen on July 26.
The subpoena asked Maricopa County to hand over data regarding breach of voter registration servers, records of registered voters, all ballot envelopes, routers, network logs, and usernames and passwords to access ballot tabulation devices, etc. as these materials were deemed necessary for the ongoing audit of the 2020 elections. The subpoena also required the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (MCBOS) to appear for a hearing at the Arizona State Capitol on Aug. 2.
However, Maricopa officials rejected the subpoena. In a letter to the Arizona Senate, Chairman of the MCBOS Jack Sellers said that the board has “little time to entertain this adventure in never-never land” and insisted that there was no fraud in the election. He asked the senate to release the report of the ongoing Maricopa County election audit and to be prepared to defend “accusations of misdeeds” in court.
“If you haven’t figured out that the election in Maricopa County was free, fair, and accurate yet, I’m not sure you ever will. The reason you haven’t finished your ‘audit’ is because you hired people who have no experience and little understanding of how professional elections are run,” Sellers wrote in the letter.
MCBOS not only failed to submit the requested items but declined to explain why it was defying the legislative subpoena. Subsequently, Senator Sonny Borelli filed a complaint, requesting the Attorney General to investigate Maricopa County officials. “The supervisors are acting as if they are above the law and it is an insult to the citizens of our state,” Borelli said in a statement.
Subsequently, Brnovich took up the complaint. In the press release dated Aug. 26, Brnovich accused MCBOS of violating state laws by not complying with the legislative subpoena. He warned MCBOS that if it fails to resolve the violation in 30 days, he will notify the Arizona Treasurer to withhold state revenue from the county until the board complies.
Brnovich pointed out that the Maricopa County Superior Court had previously affirmed the Senate’s right to issue legislative subpoenas related to election reform.
The AG is referring to an incident late last year when Maricopa County’s board had refused to comply with a previous set of subpoenas issued by the Senate. Board supervisors had accused the subpoenas of being an overreach of state authority. However, the court struck down the argument in February, stating that the senate-issued subpoenas were “legal and enforceable.”
Brnovich’s Aug. 26 press release stated that “the Arizona Audit of the 2020 election is still underway. At this time, the AGO (Attorney General’s Office) has not received any official report related to the Senate’s audit, but stands ready to review the official findings and any information submitted after a final report is completed by the Senate.”
Senate President Fann had earlier said that the non-compliance of county officials “breeds distrust” and delays the results of the election audit.
“Maricopa County’s slow-walk of the Senate public records request into a possible breach of the voter registration server is frustrating, and we will try to be patient and give the County more time to comply, as they requested,” Fann had said in a statement.
A draft report of the audit findings was expected to be delivered on Aug. 23 to Republicans in the state Senate. However, Fann announced that the chief executive of the firm conducting the audit as well as members of the team had contracted COVID-19 and was “quite sick.”
Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team are “quite sick,” and the full draft of their report will not be delivered on Monday as expected, Fann said in a statement. “In addition to the illnesses, it wasn’t until August 19 that the Senate received the images of the ballot envelopes from Maricopa County and are hoping to have those analyzed as soon as possible to incorporate those results in the final report,” Fann said.
With the delivery of the full report delayed, it will only be made public after it is checked for “accuracy, clarity, and proof of documentation of findings.” According to Fann, Arizona Senate Republicans will receive a “portion of the draft report from the election audit analysis team” on Monday.
Officials associated with the audit had predicted a report would be vetted and completed before the end of the summer. Fann outlined next steps but did not provide a timeline.
The significance of the audit
According to Reuters, Biden flipped Arizona by a margin of just over 10,000 votes out of more than 3.3 million casts statewide, with a final total of 1,672,143 votes to Trump’s 1,661,686. Maricopa County contains the capital city Phoenix and approximately 62 percent of Arizona’s population.
The Maricopa County audit, which began in April, has reviewed around 2.1 million ballots but requested high-definition images of ballots that were only obtained less than two weeks ago on August 19. Findings are expected by many to highlight issues of voting irregularities and election fraud, yet the media has widely reported that Fann, a Republican, had previously stated that the intention of the election audit was not to overturn the results of the 2020 race but to strengthen election integrity. However, a significant amount of discourse from Fann, including on recorded video feed, suggests that this statement does not summarize the main thrust of her feelings regarding the audit. She has said, “The more questions we ask, the more they keep trying to side-step,” and she describes receiving death threats and an envelope containing white powder in the mail while she says somewhat cautiously that democrats have done everything they could to “sabotage” the audit. She feels media reports and statements from Arizona democrats have characterized the situation in ways that offer an intentional misrepresentation of what has transpired in the Arizona 2020 election and of what is occurring with the audit. “It’s interesting over the months that this has transpired how the stories have changed…As this drags on there is just more and more contradiction coming out of this from them.” She clarified recent media statements by explaining how she feels that a well-conducted audit may catch liars in a trap.