As we’ve written over the past few months, the sham ballot-counting process going on in Phoenix isn’t just the work of partisan actors in one single state; it’s the continuation of many months’ worth of lies and anti-democratic rhetoric.
Records obtained late last week by American Oversight provide yet more evidence that the origins of Arizona Senate’s bogus “audit” of ballots cast in Maricopa County was less about assuring voters of election security and more about serving the election-overturning goals of former President Trump’s allies.
On Friday, the state Senate released more than 500 pages of documents in response to American Oversight’s records requests, including emails from Senate President Karen Fann in which she mentioned frequent contact with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election, and even a “personal call” from Trump, who thanked her “for pushing to prove any fraud.”
You can read more here about what was in those records, which also show the early involvement of a right-wing reporter who has been raising money for the operation as well as emails with constituents requesting that Fann seek the help of a well-known conspiracy theorist. And check out some of the coverage of the document release at the following news sites:
Like the voicemail obtained by the Arizona Republic last month in which Giuliani asked a Maricopa supervisor to help “get this thing fixed up,” or the recent New York Times report that Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pressured the Justice Department to investigate election conspiracy theories, the new records showcase the extent to which lies about voter fraud are but a flimsy veneer for brazen attempts to overturn a free and fair election.
They also underscore how the Arizona sham audit is part of the larger effort to undermine faith in democracy. Doubt was fomented months before ballots were even cast, thanks to the president’s preemptive lies and the creation of state ballot fraud “task forces” that primed voters to distrust election results. As we outlined on Friday, new voting restrictions are yet another way public officials are perpetuating the lies that got us here.
And of course, Arizona isn’t alone, with other state Republican lawmakers looking to conduct their own unnecessary recounts. Among them is Pennsylvania, where, as the Washington Post reported on Monday, state senators in late December lobbied officials in select Trump-leaning counties to allow a private company to “scrutinize the county’s ballots, for free — a move outside the official processes used for election challenges.” This week, lawmakers from Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, Virginia, and Alaska visited the Maricopa recount, as did a conspiracy theorist who is leading a recount in Atlanta’s Fulton County.
Here are some more headlines related to the Arizona spectacle and past election-overturning ploys:
How Voting Restrictions Perpetuate Lies About Fraud
Many conservative state officials who pushed back against Trump’s attempts to overturn election results have failed to speak out against new voting restrictions that embrace the same voter-fraud lies. Early findings from our investigation into the origins of recent voting-restriction bills suggest that many legislators, including in Texas and Iowa, relied on unsubstantiated allegations and fears, not evidence of actual fraud, as justifications for imposing new hurdles to voting.
Georgia County Election Board’s Opposition to Proposed Changes
Georgia’s new election law not only makes it harder to vote; it also wrests authority from local election officials. Other proposals similarly threaten the autonomy of various Georgia county election boards by changing their authority or composition. We recently published emails showing strong opposition to efforts to alter the Pickens County Board of Elections in Georgia.
Emails About Coronavirus-Spreading ICE Deportations
In March 2020, the Trump administration invoked Title 42, an obscure section of the U.S. health code, to turn away people arriving at the border — a move that exacerbated the spread of the coronavirus not only among people on deportation flights but also within other countries. American Oversight obtained communications from the State Department spanning March and April 2020 that show federal officials sharing information about deportations to Guatemala, including details about clear potential Covid-19 symptoms among migrants on the flights.
New audio of 2019 phone call reveals how Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate baseless Biden conspiracies (CNN)
Report: Park Police didn’t clear Lafayette Square protesters for Trump visit (Washington Post)
The secret IRS files: Trove of never-before-seen records reveal how the wealthiest avoid income tax (ProPublica)
Biden Justice Department seeks to defend Trump in suit over rape denial (Washington Post)
Border Protection helicopter team under investigation for rotor washing Line 3 protesters (Forum News Service)
Joe Manchin is opposing big parts of Biden’s agenda as the Koch network pressures him (CNBC)
Jan. 6 legal defense fund for 3 Arizona Republicans attracts donors to ‘fight back’ (Arizona Republic)
Days before Rep. Mike Nearman helped protesters breach Oregon Capitol, he coached constituents just how he’d help them do it (The Oregonian)
Mystery donor gives $100K-plus to DeSantis (Politico)
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