Top GOP senator: Shredded ballots will ‘evaporate’ if given to the AG

By: - March 11, 2021 8:59 am

Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, speaks in a 2017 Senate committee hearing. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flckr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A top-ranking Senate Republican told a Pinal County woman who claims to have found shredded 2020 ballots in a trash bin that she should turn them over to him and warned against trusting the Republican attorney general with the “smoking gun” evidence of election fraud.

Sen. Sonny Borrelli, the Senate majority whip, also speculated that “high-level people” want the Senate’s investigation into the election to go away, and that the only way to make that happen would be if he were killed.

Borrelli told Staci Burk and another, unnamed woman that she should provide the shredded ballots to him and to the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms.

“If they seize that stuff from you, that stuff could disappear,” Borrelli said of the Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office, which he said was uninterested in ferreting out election fraud. “If you turn it over to them, it’s going to evaporate.”

But Borrelli told the Arizona Mirror on Wednesday that he was merely exaggerating in an attempt to convince the woman to trust him.

Burk claims to have found shredded ballots from the 2020 general election in a Dumpster behind the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on Saturday. She provided a recording of the call to the Arizona Mirror on Tuesday.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and elections department spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson say the ballots Burk found were not cast in the 2020 general election. It’s unclear where the ballots came from. Surveillance camera footage of the Dumpster from Friday and Saturday, when Burk visited the building, doesn’t show who put the bag into the trash bin.

Borrelli told the Mirror that he spoke with Burk on Sunday after being bombarded with calls about her allegations. She was “all over the place” and made it clear that she didn’t trust the attorney general, whom she claimed had ignored other alleged evidence of election fraud she has, so Borrelli said he tried to convince her to hand over the ballots she said she found. Borrelli said he might have gone a little overboard and been a little overzealous, but if he’d told her she should trust the attorney general, she wouldn’t have provided the shredded ballots.

“If it’s evidence of a crime, it’s got to be turned over to law enforcement. So, I’m trying to convince this lady who doesn’t trust anybody, so I’m trying to use whatever communications skills I can to convince this lady to trust me to at least let me take a look at them, verify what she’s got is true and correct,” Borrelli told the Mirror.

He also said that if the attorney general investigated the shredded papers before the Senate and declared that there was no foul play, some people would say it was a conspiracy and a cover-up. He noted that some people are spreading conspiracy theories that a weekend fire at Hickman’s Family Farms in Arlington, which is owned by the family of Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman, was set to destroy fraudulent ballots, saying, “This is how crazy it is.”

The senator would not directly comment on what may happen if the attorney general got a hold of the alleged shredded ballots before the Senate examined them. But he told the Mirror, “Do I believe the attorney general is corrupt? No.” 

Borrelli said he’s the primary reason why the Senate has sought to investigate the 2020 election, describing himself as the “instigator” who prodded his colleagues to action. He added that it would be harder for his “high-level” enemies to silence him than Burk.

“If anything freaking happened to me in the Senate, if I got hurt, if I got killed, this whole thing would go away because there’s nobody in the Senate that would push,” he said. “They can try to silence you – you’re a private citizen. They can’t do anything to me. They can bully me all they want, but they know they can’t take me out… unless they whack me out or if I have a suicide.”

 

It is unclear exactly when the call took place. Burk claims to have found shredded ballots from the 2020 general election in a Dumpster behind the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on Saturday. Burk provided a recording of the call to the Arizona Mirror on Tuesday.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and elections department spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson say the ballots were not cast in the 2020 general election. It’s unclear where the ballots came from. Surveillance camera footage of the Dumpster from Friday and Saturday, when Burk visited the building, doesn’t show who put the bag into the trash bin.

The Senate, motivated by the baseless and thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory alleging President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump through widespread election fraud, is preparing for an audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County. It has subpoenaed all 2.1 million ballots cast in November, as well as tabulation machines and other materials. Senate President Karen Fann has not yet chosen an auditor, and the ballots and machines are still being held by county election officials.

He also referred to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, who fought the Senate in court for two months in a legal challenge to the subpoenas, as “corrupt bastards.”

“I want them in freaking jail,” Borrelli said of the supervisors.

Borrelli also had choice words about newly elected Republican officials in Maricopa County: “The Board of Supervisors are a bunch of corrupt cowards. So is (Maricopa County Recorder) Stephen Richer. I’m really disappointed in (Maricopa County Treasurer) John Allen. It’s amazing. It’s amazing, the level of feckless cowardice is unbelievable.”

 

Both Richer and Allen, a former legislator who served with Borrelli in the Arizona House of Representatives, were elected in November. Both are Republicans. State law tasks the county treasurer with securing voted ballots for 24 months after an election is canvassed.

Borrelli told the Mirror that if the supervisors committed crimes, they should be tried and imprisoned. He would not say whether he believed the supervisors had committed crimes.

When the other woman on the call asked if Borrelli could call Fann that night to work out an agreement for the Senate to take the ballots, Borrelli told her and Burk, “I don’t trust any of those people. The reason why we are where we are is because I’ve been a pain in the ass in the Senate and wasn’t going to let this go. Trust me, there are people who would fold like a lawn chair if I disappeared. They would rather this thing just die away.”

On a GoFundMe account that Burk set up to pay for legal costs related to a case she’s appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 election, Burk wrote that she’s been told she could be killed or arrested on false charges, and that senators and others had warned her not to turn over the ballots to law enforcement “or the wrong people” because they would be destroyed.

Borrelli eventually hung up on the women after Burk alleged that a failed, 15-15 vote in the Senate to hold the supervisors in contempt for defying the subpoenas was actually engineered in a secret meeting held by GOP senators.

Listen to the full conversation:

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”

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