Two meetings conducted this week — one by the Arizona Senate and the other by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors — offered a perfect contrast to the players involved in overseeing the state audit of November’s election and those seeking to end it.
Contrary to the barrage of negative coverage, the senators who commissioned the audit and representatives of the companies conducting it came off as very reasonable in their approach and objective of election integrity.
However, the board of supervisors — particularly its chairman, Jack Sellers — gave the impression of people bordering on unhinged, and certainly highly defensive.
At a Monday meeting of the board, Sellers launched into a series of invectives, which culminated in a declaration that neither he, nor the board, nor county election officials would be attending a meeting requested in a May 12 letter by Senate President Karen Fann to answer some questions the audit had raised to date.
Further, the board and other county officials called for the “sham” audit to end immediately.
Fann’s letter to the board was written in a very respectful tone and requested a May 18 meeting to discuss issues including ballot chain of custody documentation, an election database file the auditors said had been deleted and discrepancies in the number of ballots in boxes versus the number that accompanying paperwork said should be there.
Breaking Update: Maricopa County deleted a directory full of election databases from the 2020 election cycle days before the election equipment was delivered to the audit. This is spoliation of evidence! pic.twitter.com/mY0fmmFXAm
— Maricopa Arizona Audit (@ArizonaAudit) May 13, 2021
The county prepared a letter addressing questions raised in the Senate president’s correspondence.
Of course, the point of the meeting Fann requested was to have a back-and-forth to ensure all questions get answered, including those that may not have been in the letter or came to light based on the responses given.
Sellers made clear that was not going to happen.
“This board is done explaining anything to these people who are playing investigator with our constituents’ ballots and equipment, paid for with real people’s tax dollars,” he said at Monday’s board meeting. “It’s time to be done with this craziness and get on with our county’s critical business.”
He accused Fann of seeking to legitimize “a grift disguised as an audit.”
Sellers reiterated his no cooperation pledge: “As chairman of this board, I just want to make it clear, I will not be responding to any more requests from this sham process. Finish what you’re calling an audit and be ready to defend your report in a court of law. We all look forward to it.”
The board’s letter was equally as condescending as the pronouncements made at the meeting often putting auditors and audit in quotation marks: “auditors.”
In complete contrast to the board, Fann, Arizona Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen and the auditors carried themselves in a very reasonable and professional manner at a Tuesday state Senate meeting at the Phoenix Capitol.
Fann opened the hearing — which included auditors Ben Cotton, founder of CyFIR LLC; Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas; and former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is the Senate’s audit liaison — lamenting that the board chose not to attend.
She recounted the road to the audit and why it has taken six months after the election to make it happen: short answer, the board of supervisors.
Fann said she had called the board shortly after November’s election and emphasized the importance of conducting an enhanced review of the results, given concerns expressed by many.
President Joe Biden won by 0.3 percent, approximately 10,500 votes, over former President Donald Trump. Maricopa County (which encompasses the Phoenix metropolitan area) had been the only one in the state to flip from red to blue from 2016 to 2020.
“Their comment to me was, ‘We can only do what the legislature authorizes,'” Fann said.
Additionally, the board raised concerns about ongoing election-related lawsuits and did not want to tamper with potential evidence in court proceedings.
However, when the lawsuits were complete and the Senate sought to initiate an audit in December, the board responded by going to court.
That month a judge affirmed the Senate had the authority to issue and enforce subpoenas related to election materials.
The board returned to court earlier this year in another attempt to block the audit.
Finally, in late February, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason ruled, definitively, the board must comply with the subpoenas.
But the resistance was not over. Last month, the board informed the Senate that it could not use the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center, where the ballots and voting machines are stored, to conduct the audit.
Instead, a location would have to be found offsite, greatly increasing the cost of the undertaking. Private funds have been raised to help offset the amount.
“I’m only saddened that it’s cost us more taxpayer monies because we never wanted the ballots and the equipment moved from MCTEC to begin with,” Fann stated at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We said, ‘Let us go there. Let us do this together,’” she added.
It’s $8000 to certify the machines not Millions. The Senate wanted to do the audit on site at Maricopa County. The county said no. Furthermore the county has been offerred access at the audit site. Audits make the machines more legitimate not less legitimate. #AzAudit
— Warren Petersen (@votewarren) May 21, 2021
“Every time we have asked them to ‘Please work with us on this,’ we’ve received nothing but push back to the point where they don’t even want to answer our simplest questions,” Fann said.
She regretted that the board had taken such a hostile posture throughout.
“This is not personal. It never should be personal,” the Senate president said. “I’m so disappointed and saddened that the board of supervisors yesterday, some of the hurtful comments that were made, which is sad. These guys have been my friends for — some of them — 20 years.”
“This is not personal,” she reiterated. “This is about our jobs as elected officials. It is our jobs that we have to answer to our constituents, to the voters, to the taxpayers.”
Fann’s remarks and demeanor emanated confidence in the unprecedented full forensic audit, as did the testimony of those contractors involved directly in it.
Not surprisingly, the establishment media, by and large, ignored the meeting — except to claim that the auditors, specifically Cotton, had backtracked regarding his assertion that election files had been deleted, which he did not.
2/2) I was able to recover the deleted databases through forensic data recovery processes. We are performing data continuity checks to ensure that the recovered databases are usable.
— Maricopa Arizona Audit (@ArizonaAudit) May 19, 2021
The board ended the week on another nasty note.
Friday afternoon, the Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel sent a threatening letter to Fann, once again putting audit in quotation marks and calling for all correspondence, documents, text messages, etc., related to the audit from those overseeing or conducting it be preserved for future litigation.
She further warned “significant sanctions against parties who fail to preserve evidence” could be levied.
All the resistance the audit has generated in the media and among certain elected officials seems proof positive it must be seen through until the end.
In this matter, Fann’s conduct has reflected the commitment to professionalism one would like to see from a public official, while the Maricopa County board has represented something far less.
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