On Tuesday, June 22, the Arizona Senate released additional records in response to American Oversight’s request for external communications regarding the “audit.” Details about those records, which include communications of spokesman Randy Pullen, are available here.
On Monday, the Arizona Senate released additional records related to its partisan “audit” of votes cast in Maricopa County, revealing new details about the involvement of various outside companies as well as the role of Senate President Karen Fann in preparing for the operation.
As in previous productions released in response to American Oversight’s requests for records, the latest documents show Fann fielding emails from conspiracy theorists, including one email sent less than two weeks after the presidential election asking that Fann appoint new electors to overturn the state’s results. Fann forwarded the email to legislative staff and wrote, “Hmmmm.”
The elector-replacement scheme was similarly floated in a Nov. 12 letter to Fann, also included in the documents, from members of the Oklahoma State Senate, who wrote: “If a legislature were to decide that as a result of fraud, or some other reason that undermined the validity of the election, that the results will not be trusted, they would be obligated to appoint Electors that would represent the will of the people.” (The letter does not point to any evidence of such fraud.)
In another email from early March, former Arizona GOP chair Randy Pullen emailed Fann with a proposal explaining how the group Audit USA would conduct the ballot recount. The head of Audit USA, John Brakey, made news in early May after telling a journalist that they were looking for bamboo fibers thanks to a conspiracy theory about ballots having been smuggled from Asia. Pullen later became a spokesperson for the “audit.”
The records also contain a report prepared by a group called the Citizens’ Non-Partisan Grassroots Project. The document, dated March 1, 2021, indicates that it had canvassed more than 3,000 homes in Maricopa and Pima Counties “to verify the integrity of the voter rolls” and alleges that “52% of those canvassed addresses required an affidavit for an irregularity.” In early May, the Justice Department warned against such canvassing, which was proposed the Senate’s contract with the firm Cyber Ninjas, writing that it could violate federal law. Recently, the Arizona Republic reported that people impersonating election officials were knocking on doors in Yavapai County.
Much of the Senate’s sham process, from issues regarding how it’s being funded to the extent of certain groups’ involvement, has been shrouded in secrecy. Outside organizations have been raising money for the recount, with the operation’s official Twitter account even having solicited donations to those organizations.
The Twitter account drew attention in late April and early May for inflammatory tweets that apparently had been sent by volunteers before audit spokesman Ken Bennett was able to regain control of the account. The latest records include an April 29 email from a reporter with questions about the audit’s official website, on which is a handwritten note about the Twitter account that appears to have been written by Fann. “The Twitter account is not under authority of the AZ Senate,” she wrote. “I believe Ken [Bennett] originally set it up to give updates. But others are now involved.”
The newly released documents also contain service agreements with groups providing security for the operation, including Anderson Security Agency, Law Enforcement Specialists, and the armed volunteer organization the Arizona Rangers. The agreement for the Rangers indicates that the buyer is the Guardian Defense Fund, the same legal defense fund raising money to help three Arizona Republicans who were vocal supporters of the “stop the steal” movement and who were near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Previous records produced in response to American Oversight’s investigation of the partisan “audit” included emails in which Fann referenced contact with both former President Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the time Trump’s campaign was actively seeking to overturn the results of the election. We’ve also sued for records related to the role of cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas — you can follow our investigation here.
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