Politics Arizona Supreme Court delays release of election audit records
Arizona judge orders Cyber Ninjas to preserve all records in 2020 election audit
An Arizona judge on Wednesday ruled that Cyber Ninjas, the company leading the GOP-backed election audit in Arizona, must preserve all records from their process so they can be released to the public, the Arizona Republic reported.The order was made in a case brought forward by the Republic. There are currently two lawsuits seeking the release of these records, with another brought forward by the group American Oversight, which is suing the Arizona state Senate. Cyber Ninjas had argued that records connected to their audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County are not subject to Arizona's Public Records Law which would require them to be disclosed.
TheSupreme Court said Tuesday that contractors hired by the Republican-led state Senate to conduct the Maricopa County audit would not need to release records from their review by next week.
This is only a temporary delay, as Kathryn King, a justice on the state's high court, put a hold on a lower court ruling that ordered the documents released by Aug. 31 while the case is under consideration.
Left-leaning watchdog grouptook its records request to court and emerged victorious on when the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm leading the audit, was subject to the state's public records law because it was performing a core government function and had to produce the documents by the end of the month.
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Former Trump campaign official Jeff DeWit said he was not referring to the former president specifically.Documents released on August 31 under a court order include text messages from former Trump campaign official Jeff DeWit and Randy Pullen, a spokesperson for the audit.
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann argued the records should not be publicly released because they are maintained by private contractors so legislative immunity applies to the documents,her intention to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
"It is ordered extending the stay to enable the Court to fully consider the issues raised in the petition for review. However, this order does not relieve the Petitioners from continuing to review and produce documents Petitioners have already agreed to produce," King wrote on Tuesday.
A hearing isfor Sept. 14.
American Oversight's suit is not the only one leveled against the Arizona Senate. The Phoenix-based Arizona Republic newspaper sued the chamber and Cyber Ninjas on June 30 for access to a host of audit records under the same public records law.
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Following a legal battle against the county, the audit launched in. Arizona Senate Republicans have issued to Maricopa County for access to the ballots cast in the 2020 election, related documents, and other equipment, such as the voting machines used in the county.
Auditors are nowthe draft report for the state Senate to evaluate before a final product is released to the public.
However, the process hit a snag as Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and at least two other members of the audit team got "quite sick" after testing positive for COVID-19, and the entire draft report was not ready as expected at the start of the week, Fannon Monday.
"In addition to the illnesses, it wasn't until Thursday 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.
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The Senate legal team is poised to meet on Wednesday to review the draft report, Fann added.
The audit has been subject to intense criticism by mostly Republican county officials and others, including, who has cast the audit as " to cast doubt on election integrity.
Although former Presidentand his allies have championed the audit as a means to prove his allegations of widespread fraud in a state he lost in 2020, Fann has the audit is meant to "restore trust in the system and influence potential changes to the law."
The Washington Examiner contacted the Arizona Supreme Court and American Oversight but did not immediately receive a response.
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Arizona GOP State Senator Critical of Election Audit Fires Back After Receiving Threat .
"Due to misinformation & the unmet expectations of the public surrounding the audit, threats like this will unfortunately continue," Michelle Ugenti-Rita tweeted.Ugenti-Rita, who chairs the Arizona Senate Government Committee, withdrew her support from the audit, criticizing "the lack of competence" that "has deprived the voters of Arizona a comprehensive accounting of the 2020 election" in July. She is running for Arizona secretary of state.