You may recall that back in late May, Republicans in the Arizona legislature inserted into the state budget $530,000 for a “voter fraud unit” in the Attorney General’s office. AZ House approves pissing away public funds on GOP ‘voter fraud’ fraud:
According to the office of Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, the public perception of pervasive voter fraud [among partisan Republicans] is a problem that it can help fix. That’s one of the reasons it proposed the unit and started discussing the idea with legislators, said spokesperson Ryan Anderson.
“We’re not starting from the premise that there is fraud,” said Anderson. “We’re saying, if there is fraud, let’s devote the resources to look at it, expose it, and prosecute as proper. If there’s not fraud … let’s look into the allegations and shoot down allegations if the proof is just not there.”
The “voter fraud unit,” which the Attorney General’s Office wanted to call an “elections integrity unit,” would be housed in the office’s criminal division. The office would hire four people to run it: a senior attorney, a support staffer, a sworn officer, and a senior auditor.
The unit would develop a complaint process where people could report “credible allegations” of fraud in any election in Arizona, from the local to the state level. It would publish its findings annually, Anderson said. During the off-season, staff would work on non-voter-fraud cases.
He disputed the notion that the proposed unit is a half-million-dollar solution in search of a problem.
Yes, it is. All the credible research says so.
“I would argue, that even if the unit finds there is no fraud, that that is a worthwhile investment, because I think the public needs to have confidence in our institutions,” Anderson said. To date, the Attorney General’s Office has not found “any evidence or proof of widespread fraud,” he added.
So AG Brnovich tried to make it sound as if this waste of taxpayer money was benign, that the “elections integrity unit” would confirm that GOP “voter fraud” fears are a fraud.
AG Brnovich is not so benign. He is a partisan hack. Tierney Sneed reports at Talking Points Memo that GOP Voter Fraud Hawk Hired For Arizona AG’s New ‘Elections Integrity’ Unit:
Jennifer Wright — a former GOP mayoral candidate who once worked for the voter fraud alarmist group Verify the Vote — was hired as an assistant attorney general who will be focused on election integrity, KPNX, the NBC local news affiliate in Phoenix, reported Monday.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Mark Brnovich told TPM Wright approached the office about working for the unit, which will eventually employ four people total, after it was first announced. The spokesperson, Ryan Anderson, defended Wright’s credentials, including her legal experience work for the voter fraud group and her experience as candidate herself.
Wright ran unsuccessfully for Phoenix mayor in 2011, where she had the support of local Tea Party groups. Through the 2012 election cycle, she played a prominent role in a multi-state push by conservative activists to place volunteer poll watchers at voting sites. The effort was criticized by Democrats and voting rights groups for allegedly targeting minority districts in its poll monitoring and trying to intimidate voters of color.
Wright, who co-chaired Verify the Vote Arizona, denied that the group’s work amounted to voter suppression. She said that it was up to the local political parties to determine to which polling places the observers her group trained were assigned.
Verify the Vote was a partner of the more well-known Houston-based group, True the Vote, which sprung from the Tea Party organization King Street Patriots. In addition to its poll watcher campaign, True the Vote also advocates for restrictive election laws like voter ID. It was embroiled in controversy — and lawsuits — over its overhyped allegations of voter fraud and the aggressive tactics it used to police it.
Verify the Vote worked with True the Vote to try to recruit and train 5,000 volunteers to be poll monitors across Arizona for the 2012 election. In a 20-minute video promoting the effort, Wright claimed that 80 percent of poll watchers will have an uneventful election day but that “upwards [of] twenty percent are going to find issues that absent their presence, could have resulted in a fraudulent vote being cast.”
It’s unclear where she derived those numbers.
In the video, she called for volunteers to serve not only as poll observers but to also challenge voter registrations and review recently submitted registration forms.
“There are groups working to fraudulently register individuals who are not eligible to register to vote,” she claimed in the video.
While the Verify the Vote’s campaign prompted fears that the vigilantes would seek to intimidate Latino voters, the 2012 elections came and went without any reports of issues with the monitors in the state.
Wright said at the time that the presence of the poll observers prevented any problems from occurring; Voting rights attorneys said that the larger True the Vote campaign had fallen well short of its goal of 1 million volunteer poll watchers.
Anderson, the AG spokesperson, told TPM that the unit was being launched to help to maintain voter confidence after some — including President Trump — claimed mass voter fraud in recent elections. Anderson said those claims were “unfounded” and compared the unit’s work to the show “MythBusters” in that it could debunk allegations if the evidence to support them weren’t there. Though if there was credible evidence of voter fraud, the unit would investigate it and prosecute it, he said.
He said the attorney general’s office would handle referrals as it does now. Asked if the unit would be seek to review voter registrations, as Wright’s group once did, Anderson said it would review only the voter registration allegations referred to it.
I guess it didn’t hurt that 2011 Phoenix Mayoral Candidate Jennifer Wright Endorsed Arizona AG Candidate Mark Brnovich in 2012.
I don’t buy this “MythBusters” argument. You don’t hire a true believer in “voter fraud” aligned with some of the most notorious Tea Party voter suppression groups in America to disprove what she fervently believes. Especially when Wright actively sought out this position. She is a known troublemaker.
Wright is now in a position to make unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, as President Donald Trump and Republicans in Arizona and nationally did to stoke claims of deliberate election fraud in the state’s U.S. Senate race as Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema in 2018, Trump, Republicans call vote count into question amid tight McSally-Sinema race for Senate, to call into question the legitimacy of election results in 2020 in which Sen. Martha McSally and President Trump could both lose in the state.
This smacks of a premeditated plan to cause controversy over election results in 2020 to call into question the legitimacy of the results by placing someone so wholly unfit to serve as a “MythBuster” on the AG’s bogus “elections integrity unit.”
Wright’s hiring should be rescinded.