Arizona Senate Must Produce Audit Records

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

The Arizona State Senate must produce public records related to the Maricopa County forensic audit per a ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday. The court supported previous lower court decisions to produce records requested in a May lawsuit brought by American Oversight, as reported by UncoverDC.

However, the AZ Senate has yet to receive the passwords, hardware keys, and routers now ordered to be produced by Maricopa County as requested by Arizona's Attorney General, Mark Brnovich. The penalty for not handing over the materials could cost the county $700 million in state-shared tax revenue. Brnovich gave Maricopa County 30 days—the 27th of September—to comply.

On August 22, Judge Kemp granted an extension to allow the court to consider the stay pleadings from the Senate with a deadline of Aug. 31 for all Amicus Briefs and a court conference on the matter on Sept. 14.

Tuesday, Judge Kemp dissolved the petition for stay and ordered all records be released.  Senate President Karen Fann sent a letter Tuesday requesting records from the audit team, Cyber Ninjas.

Senate President Karen Fann has argued that the records should not be released because they are the property of private contractors. On August 2, Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp ordered to deliver all materials related to the audit. Per the order, he requested:

"All documents and communications related to the planning and execution of the audit, all policies and procedures being used by the agents of the Senate Defendants and all records disclosing specifically who is paying for and financing this legislative activity as well as precisely how much is being paid are subject to the PRL."

The Arizona Mirror reported the following statement from Fann, who is now deciding the best course of action for making the records available:

“What concerns me more is the fact that this ruling could open up a whole new precedent of two private companies having to divulge private communications to anyone that asks under a (public records) request,” Fann said, echoing concerns that her attorneys made in court that a ruling in American Oversight’s favor could require private companies that do business with the government to turn over confidential information.

Fann has already released many documents related to the audit, including emails and text messages from the Senate liaisons and senators to the audit team. Some have been newly added as of Wednesday.

One of the American Oversight website documents contains a PDF with 4,308 pages of emails, correspondence, and documents related to the audit, the election, and other Arizona affairs.

These pages include discussion of election legislation, correspondence from the state Republican Caucus, The Arizona Legislative Report, news clippings, many issues of the Blue Wave Newsletter (a newsletter from the Senate Democrats), and hundreds of issues of the Yellow Sheet Report whose "about section" states:

"Our reporters are embedded inside the halls and backrooms of government to bring subscribers behind-the-scenes scoops and unparalleled access to what policymakers are saying, along with detailed political analysis and breaking news stories. Besides our beloved 'News, Notes and Gossip' section, each daily edition includes full reprints of relevant documents, press releases and a roundup of local and national news our readers need to know."

Local Arizonans know it as a gossip column for the Arizona Capitol. Here is Tuesday's edition.

Yellow Sheet/Sept. 14

So far, there are 11 FOIA requests, all requesting the same information, on the American Oversight website related to the lawsuit. A Sept. 3 statement on the website says:

"American Oversight has published nearly 75,000 of the more than 80,000 pages released on Tuesday by the Arizona Senate in response to our lawsuit for records from the partisan 'audit' of Maricopa County’s election results."

The website also published privileged record logs received on Aug. 31 related to the audit. The logs allegedly contain emails between senate liaisons Ken Bennett and Randy Pullen, and Shiva Ayyadurai, as well as other emails between legislators and the auditors.

An American Oversight news release from its Executive Director Austin Evers on Kemp's order states the following:

“Arizona law does not allow public servants to outsource democracy and shroud their conduct in secrecy. The Arizona Senate’s legal maneuvering to conceal these records from the public matches the outrageousness of their so-called audit. That ends today. Arizonans can look forward to much-needed transparency, even if it may reveal gross attacks on democracy itself.”

The state senate is now reviewing the Arizona audit report. On her Telegram channel this week, Arizona Senator Wendy Rogers reassured her followers that the audit report is on its way, acknowledging the frustration of many Americans over the delay.

Telegram/Wendy Rogers/Sept. 14

OAN's Christina Bobb interviewed Arizona Senator Sonny Borelli on Sept. 11. He commented on Liz Harris' independently-run canvass and the upcoming senate report:

"There are up to four separate volumes of this report," said Borelli. "So we need to make sure it is accurate, 100 percent bullet-proof so that nothing gets challenged. And there are some other things we are waiting on from the county. They have complied a little bit but, for the most part, they have not complied. For example, we still need the passwords, the hardware tokens and the routers."

Borelli said the report will be out "sometime this month" because he knows "everyone is getting impatient." He added that "everything will be made public in a Senate Judiciary hearing and when the senate panel is hearing it, it will be for the very first time. This report will still be inconclusive" because there are "things from the machines" and "stuff hangin' out in the county that the county is not responding with."

A story published by American Oversight the day before the court order entitled "From Voter Fraud Myths to Election Audits: The Evolution of the Big Lie" is a pretty strong indicator of the organization's position on the audit. A statement from the article reads:

"Trump and his supporters turned up their efforts to undermine confidence in the results, with a particular focus on the states where Biden would score his closest wins: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennslyvania, Wisconsin, and Nevada."

The website hosts many stories on the audits and investigations of the 2020 election.

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