Court orders Arizona State Senate to release records related to controversial election audit
PHOENIX - According to a ruling made by a judge in Maricopa County, the Arizona State Senate must immediately release records relating to the ongoing Arizona election audit.
The ruling was made as a result of a lawsuit involving the left-leaning group American Oversight, which is suing for the records.
"We’re seeking documents relating to the financing of the audit, the methodology of the audit, and communications between the senate, auditors, and their subcontractors," said Austin Ever with American Oversight. "It’s a look under the hood. It’s an audit of the audit."
Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp rejected the argument that the documents held by Cyber Ninjas, the firm running the controversial audit, aren’t public records.
American Oversight wants the documents by the end of August.
"We think ‘promptly’ should be informed by the court's finding that these documents are of high public importance and need to be disclosed in order to meet tbe Senate’s basic legal obligations, so we think the month of August is a perfectly good time to define the word ‘promptly,’" said Evers.
The attorney for the Arizona State Senate has said an appeal will be filed.
Controversial audit marked by various controversies
The audit started back in April, and is conducted by Cyber Ninjas. Reports by the Associated Press described the firm as ‘untested’ and 'little-known," with a CEO who had tweeted support for conspiracy theories claiming Republican Donald Trump, and not Democrat Joe Biden, had won Maricopa County and Arizona.
Related: Experts or ‘grifters’? Little-known firm runs Arizona's controversial election audit
Doug Logan, 42, in December had tweeted and retweeted references to the conspiracy theory that voting machines were hacked to switch votes from Trump. "The parallels between the statistical analysis of Venezuela and this year’s election are astonishing," Logan tweeted, with a #StoptheSteal hashtag that referenced the pro-Trump movement seeking to overturn the election.
At one point, auditors were checking for bamboo fibers to test a theory that tens of thousands of fake ballots were shipped from Asia. A onetime treasure hunter who claims to have invented a new method to automatically spot ballot fraud says his technology is being used in the review.
Fann says the audit is only meant to see whether improvements are needed to state election laws, but the audit has long been associated with the so-called "Stop The Steal" movement, and Trump has predicted it will uncover evidence to support his discredited theories of fraud.
Meanwhile, the AP has reported that Pro-Trump groups have raised more than $5.7 million for the audit, which is much more than the $150,000 contributed by the State Senate.
Related: Trump supporters raise $5.7M for Arizona election audit
Logan, according to the AP, ended months of silence about who was paying for it and how much it cost. Among those leading the fundraising groups are Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor; Sydney Powell, his attorney who filed a number of baseless lawsuits challenging election results; Patrick Byrne, a former chief executive of Overstock.com; and correspondents from the pro-Trump One America News Network.
Senate Majority Whip wants Attorney General to investigate Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
Meanwhile, Arizona Senate Majority Whip Sonny Borrelli is asking the state's Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, to act.
Borrelli wants Brnovich to investigate the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, who refused to comply with a subpoena request on Aug. 2.
Related: Maricopa County Board of Supervisors rejects subpoenas issued by Arizona State Senate in scathing letter
The subpoenas, issued on July 26, came days after Trump spoke to thousands of supporters in downtown Phoenix, and demands that the county turn over the envelopes from all mail-in ballots or images of them, network routers and traffic logs, detailed voter registration records with change histories, and records related security breaches of election systems.
"On the passwords they've asked for, we told them before we don't have those passwords. We still don't have those passwords. It's kind of odd they asked for them because they gave us back those machines last week," said Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers also issued a scathing response to the subpoenas on Aug. 2.
"The Board has real work to do and little time to entertain this adventure in never-never land," read a portion of the letter. "There was no fraud, there wasn't an injection of ballots from Asia, nor was there a satellite that beamed votes into our election equipment."
The letter ended with a call by Sellers on the Senators to release their report, and "be prepared to defend any accusations of misdeeds in court."
"President [Karen] Fann has handled this process professionally and she has tried to be diplomatic while dealing with the attacks and insults from the Board. Enough is enough! The level of disrespect and contempt from the supervisors toward Senate leadership and Arizona voters is appalling," Borrelli's statement read, in part.
We have reached out to the Attorney's General Office for comment. Officials with the office say they have received Borrelli's request, and are in the process of reviewing it. Officials say they cannot comment further at this time.
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