On Friday, the Arizona Senate released to American Oversight more than 500 pages of records related to the sham “audit” of ballots cast in Maricopa County. The records include the emails of Senate President Karen Fann, and were released in response to American Oversight’s public records requests regarding the partisan operation.
Fann’s emails indicate frequent contact with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and even a “personal call” from former President Donald Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election, as Trump and his lawyers were working to overturn the results.
On Dec. 2, 2020, days after Giuliani had held an unofficial “hearing” in Phoenix regarding unsubstantiated allegations of large-scale voter fraud, Fann wrote to a constituent that she had “spoken with Mayor Giuliani at least 6 times in the past two weeks.”
Later that month, in response to a message from another constituent, Fann wrote: “I have been in numerous conversations with Rudy [Giuliani] over the past weeks trying to get this done. I have the full support of him and a personal call from President Trump thanking us for pushing to prove any fraud.”
Fann’s emails also show the early involvement of Christina Bobb, a reporter for the right-wing One America News network who has been raising money for the operation through a website called Voices and Votes. On Dec. 4, Bobb emailed Fann affidavits she said Giuliani had asked her to send; Fann replied that she had forwarded them to Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers and their respective chiefs of staff. In an email from late April, Fann referred a constituent to Voices and Votes.
Another figure who appears in the emails is Jovan Pulitzer, a voter-fraud conspiracy theorist. His role in the audit is less clear, but news reports indicated that the auditors were using unproven technology he developed to hunt for “counterfeit” ballots and that he has espoused wild claims that fraudulent ballots made of bamboo had been shipped from China.
On Jan. 25, 2021, Pulitzer emailed Fann after a call to share information about ballot preservation. “All that my team does is high-speed scan in all ballots in their native state … and allow machines to inspect without bias and produce a report.”
Throughout March, a number of constituents emailed Fann to request that Pulitzer be involved in the operation. In response to one email on March 14, Fann wrote: “There are a lot of details that must be perfect. As they say in sports, you don’t make your game plan public until game day. Patience a little longer please.”
Other constituents asked whether they could assist the process (with one offering to donate pepper spray to the Arizona Rangers) or voiced impatience with the Arizona Senate’s Republican majority. On April 10, one constituent wrote: “We will make sure none of you are ever re-elected again unless you prove there was fraud.”
Fann responded by blaming the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for “delay tactics,” saying that their “efforts have been sabotaged every step of the way but we are not giving up!”
“The more we learn, the more it becomes clear that this is not an audit, it’s a sham partisan crusade carried out by some of the most cynical actors our democracy has ever known,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “With each new email, the paper trail confirms that the true goal of this process is to perpetuate Donald Trump’s big lie of a stolen election and to undermine faith in our democracy.”
On May 19, American Oversight sued the Arizona Senate for failing to produce records related to its contract with the cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas. Other requests for records, including for the related emails of Senate President Karen Fann, led to the release on May 25 of 54 pages of emails documenting Fann’s extensive involvement in the preparations for the operation.
American Oversight’s investigation aims to provide the public with urgently needed transparency and to determine the full extent of the damage to our democracy and election security caused by this effort to undermine a free and fair election.
Part of Investigation: