What the Senate election audit lacks in transparency, it makes up for in QAnon conspiracy theories.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports the Auditors hide donors:

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From the Arizona Senate to the cybersecurity company overseeing the audit of nearly 2.1 million ballots from the November election, everyone involved has said one way or another that they want and hope to be transparent about the process, but to date, there is little evidence to support those claims.

While media outlets across the state had to fight and threaten legal action to receive limited access to the Madhouse on McDowell – dubbed so decades ago for raucous Phoenix Suns games – unanswered, important questions still hang in the air.

TRANSPARENCY

Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, the Senate liaison for the audit, hasn’t disclosed any private contributors helping to fund the audit. The Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the firm overseeing the process, agreed on a $150,000 contract that will come from taxpayers, but it is known that there is a lot of money pouring in from outside sources, including One America News Network, which pushes the far-right agenda.

Bennett has stated his intention for transparency on the private funding, but has yet to accomplish that.

Bennett said April 27 he will try to have the money go through the state Senate so it can be tracked as a public record. Currently, the private money is going directly to Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO Doug Logan has repeatedly refused to disclose any information.

“I am going to fight with every ounce of breath I have to make sure that all of that money goes through the Arizona Senate, and is publicly disclosed,” Bennett said.

BFD. No one is listening to this assclown, anyway.

If any money does go to the Senate, it would go through the Legislative Council, not directly to senators.

However, according to Legislative Council, the body that would actually accept any “gifts” the Senate receives, no one has asked about the possibility of setting up a mechanism to receive these donations.

Mike Braun, Legislative Council executive director, said Arizona Capitol Times reporters were the only ones who have even broached the topic to him.

“Nobody’s ever talked to us about setting it up or doing it, or what the requirements would be,” Braun said.

Bennett declined to say whether former President Trump was sending money to back the audit, but he said MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has not donated money.

But another wingnut CEO from Overstock.com with his own “dark money” 501(c)(4) nonprofit has.

While simultaneously claiming the money would become public, Bennett plugged the Trump-friendly One America New Network-backed 501(c)(4) organizations fundraising for the audit, directing people to its website to donate during the brief press conference.  

Christina Bobb, a host with the conspiracy peddling One America News Network, which has repeatedly spread false information about the election in Arizona, raised at least $150,000 for the audit through her nonprofit group.

He said the source of those nonprofits’ funding will “get disclosed [a lie] when all the 501(c)(4) contributors get disclosed.” That might be a while, considering 501(c)(4) organizations are “dark money” nonprofits that aren’t required to disclose donors

Bennett also urged people to visit a website if they wanted to give money to the audit. The site – also a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization – is hoping to raise $2.8 million. The nonprofit, The America Project, is run by former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, who has close ties to Trump, Lindell and others in that inner circle.  

None of this private fundraising from the conspiratorial MAGAverse is necessary or desirable, because the Arizona Senate has the money to pay for this farcical sham “fraudit” it ordered itself. And remember, Arizona Republican legislators and Governor Ducey just approved a new law barring third parties from providing financial help for election assistance in Arizona, but apparently not for their own conspiratorial “Stop The Steal” sham “fraudit,” because these grifters want to maintain the grifting of their MAGA/QAnon marks.

The Arizona Mirror reports, The Senate is sitting on millions of dollars as it outsources election audit funding to pro-Trump groups:

Private groups are raising outside money to help the Arizona Senate pay for its election audit, and it turns out there’s an entity with several million dollars to spare that they could turn to — the Arizona Senate.

Senate President Karen Fann’s contract with Florida-based cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas to oversee and conduct the audit is for $150,000, a figure that she says she knew at the time would be insufficient to cover the costs. Since then, private fundraising efforts have cropped up to cover the difference, including by people and organizations that have been vocal promoters of bogus election fraud conspiracy theories claiming that the election in Arizona was rigged against former President Donald Trump.

Fann, a Prescott Republican, has praised those groups, telling KTAR radio host Mike Broomhead, “The price is going up right now. Thank God we have grassroots people that are stepping up and saying, ‘Yeah, we’re going to pay for this, we don’t expect Arizona to pay for all of this because it’s important.’”

What Fann didn’t mention during that April 27 interview is that the Senate could easily afford to provide the rest of the funding itself.

The Senate received more than $13.2 million for its operating budget in fiscal year 2021. Unlike most state agencies, the Senate is also one of the few entities in state government that gets to keep the money it doesn’t spend. And there’s always money left over.

At the start of the current fiscal year, which began in July 2020, Fann carried over more than $4 million from the previous fiscal year. That figure was far higher than in most years. In fiscal year 2020, the Senate carried over nearly $1.7 million from the prior year. In fiscal year 2019, the number was about $1.6 million. And in fiscal year 2018, it was $1.6 million.

Between its lump sum operating budget and its carryover from 2020, the Senate had about $17.3 million at the start of the fiscal year. So far, it has spent about $9.2 million, according to Senate spokesman Mike Philipsen.

That means Fann has about $8.1 million for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30. That includes nearly $3.5 million that’s still unspent from the fiscal year 2020 carryover, a sum that included leftover money from the preceding three fiscal years.

Nonetheless, Fann only spent $150,000 on her contract with Cyber Ninjas, a figure that election administration experts immediately speculated wouldn’t be enough to cover the significant scope of work, and which Fann acknowledges she knew wouldn’t cover the full costs.

Fann said the Senate had so much money left over from fiscal year 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because of Covid we did not give any raises for almost two years or major repairs. We didn’t think (it was) appropriate with so many people out of work,” she told the Arizona Mirror via text message.

Fann wouldn’t say whether she and Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan had an agreement when they signed the contract that the unfunded portion of the audit would be paid for through private contributions.

* * *

Ken Bennett, Arizona’s former secretary of state who is serving as a spokesman and liaison for the audit, told reporters Tuesday that he believes it’s “going to take way more than” $150,000 to complete the audit. Asked why Fann and Cyber Ninjas didn’t simply sign a contract for the actual cost of the audit, he said, “Because probably they didn’t want to spend more of the taxpayers’ money than they had to.”

They should not be spending one red cent of taxpayer money on this purely partisan snipe hunt to “prove” their conspiratorial “Stop The Steal” fantasy. Does anyone believe that these head cases will not claim to have found something after all the time and money invested in this sham “fraudit”? Of course they will. This is the template for maintaining the Big Lie into future elections. It is now a core tenant of GQP election strategy, partly paid for with your tax dollars by these grifters.

Just how much the audit will cost or how much is being raised is unknown. Wood wrote on Telegram that “costs exceed $1.5M but have been covered by private Patriot donors.”

“Patriots” my ass, theyare seditious insurrectionists.

If the Senate were paying the full bill for the audit, those expenditures would be public records. For example, in 2010, then-Gov. Jan Brewer created a fund to help pay for legal defense of a controversial illegal immigration law she signed after supporters from around the country began sending money to the governor’s office. The Brewer administration released the names of all contributors and the amount of money they each gave in response to public records records.

Cyber Ninjas has refused to disclose who else is funding the audit and whether it has contracts or agreements with any of those other funders. The Senate does not have those records, either.

Fann said she wants that information to be made available to the public. She said she’s told Cyber Ninjas that she’ll be asking for information about total costs and who provided the funding. However, she couldn’t say whether Cyber Ninjas would agree. The company’s contract with Fann doesn’t mention outside funding or mandate that it disclose that information.

Senate President Karen Fann should be facing a recall for this crime against democracy.

Newspaper editorials should be demanding that all 16 Republican Senators resign from office in disgrace immediately.




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