American Oversight has obtained additional records from the Arizona Senate’s partisan “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results that provide more details about the high cost of the security contractors hired to guard the operation — including indications that payments to those contractors were delayed.
While the Arizona Senate initially authorized $150,000 to conduct the widely discredited effort, the final cost of the “audit” quickly expanded to the millions. American Oversight’s investigation and litigation for records from the election review have shed light on the operation’s costs and contract agreements, including its nearly $9 million price tag and — as revealed this week in records previously held by lead contractor Cyber Ninjas — its early high-price subcontracts.
Among the review’s significant costs was the hiring of security contractors to work at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix as well as other locations where ballots were being counted and inspected by volunteers and “audit” employees. According to the additional records obtained by American Oversight, as of February 2022 — five months after Cyber Ninjas submitted its misleading and error-ridden final report — the Senate’s outstanding payments to security contractors totaled more than $370,000.
In mid-February, the Senate still owed $15,000 of the $20,000 it had agreed to contribute to the Arizona Rangers, an armed volunteer organization. On Feb, 16, Mike Droll, the head of the Rangers, sent “audit” spokesman Randy Pullen a photo of the original service agreement between the Senate and his group. The “voluntary” agreement shows that the Senate offered what Droll described in his email as “a potential $20,000 contribution.” He added, “To date, a $5000 contribution has been received […] and was greatly appreciated.” According to Droll’s email, the Rangers provided 5,764 hours of service to the Senate between April and August 2021.
The records also reveal that at the same time, the Senate appeared to owe more than $350,000 to Law Enforcement Specialists, a private armed security company that hires off-duty police officers. On Feb. 17, Pullen sent an email titled “Security Expenses” to Senate President Karen Fann. The attached document indicated that more than $240,000 had already been paid to the firm but that there was an outstanding balance of $357,254 for services between May and the end of July 2021. The invoice is billed to both the Senate and Guardian Defense Fund, a nonprofit founded by election denier and state Rep. Mark Finchem that fundraised and was often a conduit for “audit” costs (and for which Pullen has served as treasurer).
The same invoice also displays a charge of $245,238 paid in full to Law Enforcement Specialists by “Lamon” — presumably U.S. Senate candidate Jim Lamon. According to a September 2021 report in the Arizona Republic, Lamon paid for three security guards to work at the coliseum during the ballot count.
While the Arizona Senate initially authorized $150,000 for the “audit,” the cost to Cyber Ninjas had skyrocketed to nearly $9 million by September, according to documents we obtained. Private funds from Trump-allied nonprofits, as well as individual donations from Trump supporters, made up the largest portion of the funds. Still, taxpayers have ended up paying a whopping $4 million as a result of the “audit,” with most having gone to replacing Maricopa County’s voting machines, which were potentially compromised during the Senate’s review.
The records also contain a statement of work and requested payment for $75,000 from election denier and “audit” subcontractor Shiva Ayyadurai. On Sept. 30, 2021, Pullen sent the document to Fann and wrote, “Dr. Shiva’s SOW. Managed to get a small discount.” The attached document explains the agreed-upon services and costs from Ayyadurai’s company EchoMail. Previously, American Oversight had obtained Ayyadurai’s $50,000 contract with Cyber Ninjas, which terminated in August.
It’s been one year since American Oversight filed its lawsuit against the Senate seeking records related to the “audit.” While we have obtained thousands of documents, the Senate still refuses to release a large number of relevant records under an overly broad claim of legislative privilege. More information about our investigation into the “audit” of Maricopa County’s election results can be found here; all filings related to the lawsuit can be found here.
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