Maricopa County BOS Appoints An Election Denier To Replace Election Denier Liz Harris

District 13 is represented by Democrat Jennifer Pawlik, and formerly election denier and QAnon conspiracy theorist Liz Harris.

Harris was expelled from the legislature for a political stunt she pulled, inviting her election denier friends to testify at an election hearing in which one of her friends impugned Republican office holders for being on the take for bribery, as well as elders of the Mormon church.

Julie Willoughby ran as a team with Liz Harris in 2022, and narrowly lost to Harris for the district’s second House seat. She also campaigned alongside failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and received her endorsement, as well as the backing of failed Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem.

This is whom the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed to replace Liz Harris? Isn’t this a bit like “six of one, half a dozen of another”? We traded one unqualified nut job for another unequaled nut job.

The Washington Post reports, Kari Lake-backed candidate replaces ousted election denier in Ariz. legislature:

Officials in Arizona’s largest county on Friday voted on a replacement for Liz Harris, a former state representative who peddled false and outlandish claims of election fraud and was expelled from her seat last month.

In a 4-1 vote, the GOP-led Maricopa County Board of Supervisors selected Julie Willoughby, a Republican nurse who campaigned alongside Harris during the 2022 GOP primary but later narrowly lost the general election, coming in third. (The top two vote-getters won seats to represent the district.) Willoughby was endorsed by Kari Lake, the Donald Trump-backed GOP gubernatorial candidate who still falsely claims she won her own contest.

Arizona House Republicans moved immediately to get Willoughby sworn in less than two hours after the vote. The county board, which helps administer elections, had no deadline to name a replacement — but the GOP’s slim majority in the House and ongoing budget negotiations added a measure of urgency.

“I’m very excited to get to work and honored that my district nominated me,” Willoughby said on the House floor shortly after being sworn in.

County supervisor Steve Gallardo (D) was the lone dissenting vote Friday. After praising the process, he alluded to Willoughby being aligned with Lake and Harris when it came to their beliefs on election integrity.

“The one thing I would love to see — and I have to see — is someone who is willing to have the political courage to stand up publicly and say that our elections are safe, secure and accurate,” Gallardo said. “And until that is done, I cannot in good faith support a candidate.”

State law required the board to pick a replacement for Harris from among a pool chosen by the local Republican Party. Local GOP precinct committee members sent three nominees to the board — one of whom was Harris, who continued to lobby to be appointed back to her “stolen” seat leading up to the vote.

A third nominee was Steven Steele, a Harris ally who said during a June 6, 2021 Facebook video hosted by Harris that he participated in a door-to-door canvassing operation after the 2020 election that drew the attention of the Justice Department. Steele nominated Harris as a contender to fill her old seat, GOP activists told The Washington Post, and a review of his Facebook account shows he has amplified misinformation about elections on social media.

On Wednesday, Maricopa County Vice Chair Jack Sellers (R) interviewed the three GOP nominees, asking them their positions on future transportation funding for the fast-growing metro Phoenix area, the region’s growing problem with homelessness and the integrity of the 2020 and 2022 elections.

Willoughby was most aligned with the board on those issues, according to a person familiar with the interviews who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the sessions publicly.

The candidates’ backgrounds were researched and included examinations of their social media posts to learn more about their views on elections and the board itself.

“I believe we have completed our due diligence,” said Sellers, a former city councilman in Chandler, Ariz., the sprawling Phoenix suburb that is included in the district Willoughby will now represent. “Even though we have differing opinions on these issues, the conversations were considered and cordial and I thank all three for taking the time to meet with me.”

Sellers said that, in his interview with Harris, she maintained that her removal from the Arizona House was “improper and unlawful.” He said he believed she had the right to pursue a remedy to that, but that the board also had to consider the weight of the votes of the House members who made a choice to expel her.

Harris, who had been serving her first term in the Arizona state House of Representatives after winning her seat in November, was ousted in a bipartisan vote on April 12 after the GOP-led House Ethics Committee found she had lied to her colleagues about her knowledge of the testimony that a witness intended to give at a hearing on election fraud that she had helped to organize.

It was only the fourth time in history that an Arizona state House member was expelled. Democrats, who supported the expulsion, accused Republicans of only pushing to expel Harris because she had gone after fellow Republicans, including Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma (R).

Harris, who works in real estate, has drawn a following online for her stolen-election theories and was recently elected to a leadership position within the Maricopa County Republicans. After the 2020 vote, she helped organize door-to-door canvassing efforts to ferret out fraud. That effort came as state Senate Republicans commissioned their own initiative to uncover alleged vote rigging [- the Arizona Senate’s sham “Fraudit” by the Nano Cyber Ninjas.]