Public Watchdogs Take Legal Action Against Sham Election Audit By Arizona Senate

American Oversight is a non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog that uses public records requests backed by litigation to expose official misconduct, threats to democracy, and abuses of power at all levels of government.

On Tuesday, American Oversight launched an investigation into the Arizona Senate’s partisan audit of the 2020 presidential election ballots cast in Maricopa County, filing 19 public records requests for key documents related to the audit, including contracts and communications with the cybersecurity company Cyber Ninjas.

The investigation follows Arizona Senate President Karen Fann’s announcement last week that the audit team would be led by Cyber Ninjas, whose founder, Doug Logan, has repeatedly circulated lies that the 2020 election was rigged and vocally supported the “Stop the Steal” movement. Moreover, Fann announced the audit would be conducted with no oversight by members of the Senate, and the statement of work signed by Cyber Ninjas indicates the companies plans to engage in direct contact with Arizona voters, the subject of a legal challenge from the group Protect Democracy. Correspondence between the State Senate and Maricopa County suggest that the firm has little background in Arizona law or Arizona election administration.

“This audit fits into the months-long effort to undermine faith in our elections and provide bogus evidence to justify new restrictions on voting,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “The Arizona Senate’s actions are of a piece with Donald Trump’s ill-fated commission on voter fraud. The public urgently needs transparency to determine if the audit has any chance of returning legitimate results, or whether it is a partisan waste of taxpayer money to bolster the Big Lie about the 2020 election.”

There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud or other election issues that could have affected the outcome of the election in Maricopa County or elsewhere. Tests and audits released by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors showed that the ballots cast in the 2020 election had been tabulated accurately and that there were no irregularities with the election equipment or software. Concerns have been raised that the audit could result in voter intimidation.

After the 2020 election, Senate President Karen Fann and then-Arizona Sen. Eddie Farnsworth issued subpoenas to Maricopa County for the 2.1 million ballots as well as election machines and other materials. Those subpoenas were re-upped in January by Fann and state Sen. Warren Petersen, who replaced Farnsworth as chair of the Judiciary Committee. In late February, a judge ruled that the county must turn over the ballots. leading to confusion when the Senate did not have a placelined up to safely store them.

American Oversight has filed public records requests for the related communications of Fann, Petersen, Farnsworth, and state Rep. Mark Finchem — including communications with former President Trump’s attorneys, Maricopa elections officials, and external parties like Cyber Ninjas. The watchdog also requested copies of any contracts with Cyber Ninjas or other companies hired to provide services relevant to the audit.

American Oversight has been investigating efforts in Arizona and across the country to undermine the 2020 election and cast doubt on the democratic process. We previously uncovered copies of the phony electoral certificates sent to Congress by Trump supporters in Arizona and six other states as part of the attempt to overturn the election results. Separately, American Oversight has obtained records shedding light on efforts by the Trump White House to pressure officials in Georgia to reverse that state’s election results.

Another nonprofit organization, Protect Democracy, is threatening to sue the Arizona Senate because the planned audit activities could violate the Voting Rights Act, KKK Act and more.

Voting Rights Groups Could Sue over AZ Audit

April 6, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Multiple voting rights lawyers and advocacy groups have signed a letter outlining their intention to sue if the unfounded Republican-led audit of Maricopa County’s election results goes forward with their planned intimidation tactics. After multiple audits in Arizona found no evidence of fraud, and both Republicans and Democrats in the state agreed the election results were fair and accurate, Republican legislators in the state senate pushed for yet another audit as they continue to propagate Trump’s Big Lie. Senate Republicans selected four private firms to complete the audit—one of which is owned and operated by a well-known conspiracy theorist that believes the election was stolen from Donald Trump and that Dominion voting machines were involved in a conspiracy to change the results.

Tuesday’s letter, signed by Protect Democracy and three law firms, is addressed to the four firms chosen for the audit and warns them of the potential illegality of their planned audit activities. The conspiracy theorist company Cyber Ninjas, Inc. plans to knock on doors in Maricopa County to interrogate voters about their voting history; such behavior could constitute voter intimidation and harassment, which violates the Voting Rights Act and the Klu Klux Klan Act. The law firms join Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in expressing their concern over the planned audit—Hobbs wrote a letter to the state senate last week asking them to revise their plan in order to protect voters and democratic elections in Arizona.

Read Protect Democracy’s full letter here.




6 thoughts on “Public Watchdogs Take Legal Action Against Sham Election Audit By Arizona Senate”

  1. What do you have in your files that verify your story. Please publish them so we all can see.

    • Or, John F Jr, since you folks seem to be accusing people of crimes, show your work.

      Where is your evidence of voter fraud? The 2020 Losers lawyers couldn’t find any and lost in court 60 times, and they’re in trouble for wasting the courts time. Some will probably get disbarred.

      It’s illegal to falsely accuse someone of a crime, which you folks are doing, and that makes you criminals.

    • My “files”? WTF are you even talking about? This post includes the press releases from both organizations, including a link to the FOIA requests sent to the Arizona Senate. Do you not know what a FOIA request is? The information requested is in the possession of the persons to whom the FOIA requests were sent. That ain’t me bro.

  2. What are you afraid of? Fraud exposed by the audit?
    Bring it on….you will be exonerated, right?

    • Since you are trolling this blog, it is clear that you did not bother to read this post. Cyber Ninjas has NO expertise as an election auditor, but its idiot owner did advance some of the Krazy Kraken Lady’s unfounded “stop the steal” conspiracy theories, which is why conspiracy theorist Sen. Karen Fann hired this crackpot. Cyber Ninjas has NO credibility with anyone but Trump cult followers. No reasonable person with half a brain will accept whatever piece of shit report this hack produces.

      As Jim Small said at the Arizona Mirror, “Editor’s Thought Bubble: The #StopTheSteal audit was always going to be this way”, https://www.azmirror.com/blog/editors-thought-bubble-the-stopthesteal-audit-was-always-going-to-be-this-way/

      “What will happen is a repeat of what this whole exercise in election conspiracies has been about: They will inevitably find something that is perfectly normal in election procedures, and then either misunderstand or misrepresent it so that it backs up the story they’ve told themselves about how Trump didn’t really lose. It will be done purely in bad faith and it will serve to undermine elections in Arizona and nationwide, hastening our nation’s fall into authoritarianism.”

  3. The Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller writes, “Farcical Maricopa election audit just a sideshow to Trump circus”, https://tucson.com/news/local/tim-stellers-opinion-farcical-maricopa-election-audit-just-a-sideshow-to-trump-circus/article_d9bbc83b-1c38-57ee-b5ed-54936b3a4078.html#tracking-source=home-top-story-1

    (Excerpt)

    In truth, the Arizona Senate Republicans’ so-called audit of the presidential election in Maricopa County is dead on arrival. In an effort to appease the GOP conspiracy caucus, Senate President Karen Fann and her sidekick, Sen. Warren Petersen, have chosen a team that has no credibility with anyone but conservative election conspiracists.

    For the rest of the state’s population, this audit is just a final sideshow of the Trump circus, best ignored or jeered at, but certainly not believed.

    First consider the fact that Logan’s firm is neither auditors nor election specialists, though they have been hired to conduct an election audit. They are a “cybersecurity company,” as Logan noted in his letter, that specializes in “threat modeling.”

    So not only is [Cyber Ninja] biased, it doesn’t have relevant experience to audit an election, unless you are the sort of person who thinks Hugo Chavez manipulated our election machines from the grave.

    Logan is biased, but at least he had the honesty to indirectly admit it.

    This matters not just in Phoenix, but all over the state. Imagine legislators unhappy with election outcomes in Graham County or Navajo County — the state could bully those small counties much more easily than it can Maricopa County.

    Fortunately, Sens. Fann and Petersen, who is also an election conspiracist, are facing massive pushback from the Republican majority of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The Phoenix press and others are also pointing out the many elephants in the room.

    Take this worrisome paragraph from Cyber Ninjas’ “statement of work,” submitted to the state Senate: “The Registration and Votes Cast Team has worked together with a number of individuals to perform nonpartisan canvassing within Arizona related to the 2020 General election in order to statistically identify voter registrations that did not make sense, and then knock on doors to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address. This brought forth a number of significant anomalies suggesting significant problems in the voter rolls.”

    So this cybersecurity company, before even receiving the Arizona contract, was door-knocking in the Phoenix area asking voters about their registration and votes. What the heck?

    A team of three Arizona law firms, calling themselves Protect Democracy, sent Cyber Ninjas a cease-and-desist letter Tuesday telling them and their subcontractors to stop, or else.

    “These tactics — no matter their intent — constitute illegal voter intimidation and might expose your companies to both civil and criminal penalties,” the letter said.

    When Cyber Ninjas sent a four-page list of questions to Maricopa County, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican, told them politely to stuff it. He noted that Maricopa County has performed election audits that were bipartisan and transparent, and that the county authorized two other forensic examinations of its machines. Everything came out clean.

    “Many of your auditors’ questions can be answered by reviewing the Election Procedures Manual, the early vote and election day plans, as well as the power points from the hearing that occurred last year before the Senate Judiciary Committee. We suggest the Cyber Ninjas begin by reviewing those items, watching the hearing, and reviewing the Arizona statutes governing elections.”

    Cyber Ninjas’ questions “show a complete lack of familiarity with the system,” said former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes. “They show an abject lack of preparation.”

    We might be able to avoid future clown shows if we treat this sideshow for what it is — a farce that embarrasses Arizona.

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