Arizona Supreme Court Effectively Upholds Rulings Determining Cyber Ninjas ‘Audit’ Records Are Public

On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court left in place rulings from two lower courts that had determined that records in the physical custody of the company Cyber Ninjas — the lead contractor in the state Senate’s sham election “audit” — are public records and must be released. 

American Oversight had filed suit in the spring under Arizona’s Public Records Law seeking the release of documents related to the “audit,” including records that were held by Cyber Ninjas. In early August, Judge Michael Kemp of the Maricopa County Superior Court ordered the Arizona Senate to release records related to the “audit.”

The Senate attempted to argue that records held by Cyber Ninjas should be exempt from disclosure, but both the trial court and appeals court ruled in American Oversight’s favor. After the state Court of Appeals denied the Senate’s request for relief, the Senate appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, which granted a temporary stay on Kemp’s order, but only on the records held in the physical custody of Cyber Ninjas. Tuesday’s decision in the Supreme Court dissolves that stay.

“Arizona law does not allow public servants to outsource democracy and shroud their conduct in secrecy,” said Austin Evers, American Oversight’s executive director. “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.”

Late last month, on the Superior Court-ordered deadline of Aug. 31, the Arizona Senate released tens of thousands of documents related to the election review, but has withheld roughly 3,000 records in their possession, including communications with Cyber Ninjas and external parties, claiming legislative privilege.

The records that were released reveal that “audit” officials had frequent communications with conspiracy theorists, prominent state and national Republicans, as well as election-denying activists and lawmakers in other states — providing further evidence that the operation was undertaken with partisan and anti-democratic intent.

After weeks of delay, the “audit” team is expected to provide the Senate with its purported findings later this week. In addition to the Senate’s fight to shield its partisan operation from public scrutiny, American Oversight’s investigations as well as public reporting have already demonstrated that any such “findings” are compromised — read more here.