Court Orders Arizona Senate and Cyber Ninjas to Immediately Turn Over ‘Audit’ Records

In a ruling released on Friday, the Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County ordered the Arizona Senate and contractor Cyber Ninjas to immediately release to American Oversight documents related to the Senate’s partisan “audit” of 2020 presidential election ballots cast in Maricopa County.

This is the first time that the court has directly ordered Cyber Ninjas, the lead contractor responsible for the election review, to release documents in response to American Oversight’s public records lawsuit. 

“The court has confirmed that public officials can’t avoid accountability by outsourcing questionable activities to private contractors,” said Heather Sawyer, Executive Director of American Oversight “Despite the year-long effort by the Arizona Senate and the Cyber Ninjas to shield their partisan election ‘audit’ from scrutiny, the public will soon have transparency and accountability for this dangerous effort to undermine confidence in Arizona’s election results.”

Previous court orders have put the responsibility of producing documents on the Senate alone, instructing the Senate to obtain copies of any records held by Cyber Ninjas. The Senate has repeatedly argued in court that it has been unable to compel Cyber Ninjas to comply with requests for documents, although the firm has begun turning over batches of records within the past several months. 

The ruling by Judge Bradley Astrowsky orders the Senate and Cyber Ninjas to comply with Arizona’s public records law and “immediately provide [American Oversight] with access to (or copies of) any and all documents with a substantial nexus to the audit activities, including all public records” identified in American Oversight’s second amended complaint, filed in December of last year. However, the order specifically excludes the roughly 1,000 documents that the Senate has claimed should be withheld from the public under a claim of legislative privilege. The status of those documents is currently pending before the Arizona Supreme Court. 

This latest ruling came nearly a year after an Arizona court first found that documents held by the Senate’s contractor Cyber Ninjas qualified as public records and were subject to release under Arizona law. 

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