Fann demands county answer audit questions, supervisors say new allegations are lies

By: - May 13, 2021 8:29 pm

The floor of Veterans Memorial Coliseum during the Arizona Senate’s audit of the 2020 general election in Maricopa County. Photo by Courtney Pedroza | Washington Post/pool

Senate President Karen Fann  is demanding that Maricopa County send officials to a special meeting Tuesday to answer lawmakers’ questions about issues related to the ongoing election audit she ordered, and the chairman of the board of supervisors responded by calling a special public meeting to rebut the audit team’s claims that he called “lies” and “dangerous.” 

Fann, R-Prescott, sent the letter Wednesday to Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers, a fellow Republican, and said the meeting was needed to resolve “serious issues” that auditors claim to have encountered over the course of their work. One of those issues is a new battle between the county board and the Senate over the possession of computer routers. 

The Senate has been threatening to issue new subpoenas to Maricopa County over the routers which they say are needed to check if voting machines were connected to the internet. The county contends that handing over the routers will jeopardize personal information, including law enforcement information, with Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone calling it “mind-numbingly reckless and irresponsible.”  

In her letter, Fann suggests that a subcontractor of the Florida-based firm conducting the audit, Cyber Ninjas, review virtual images of the routers while in the presence of the sheriff’s office.

Fann also wants the supervisors to answer questions about allegations her audit team made. The audit’s official Twitter account accused county election officials of deleting “a directory full of election databases” from 2020 before turning over equipment to the audit team, claiming, “This is spoliation of evidence!” 

The audit’s Twitter account also claimed there were other issues, such as discrepancies between official counts and the numbers of ballots in the boxes turned over by the county. 

The Board of Supervisors went into an emergency meeting in executive session Thursday evening to discuss the letter. Afterward, Sellers issued a statement saying that it would hold a public meeting Monday to “refute lies and lay out facts about these issues.” 

“After reviewing the letter with County election and IT experts, I can say the allegations are false and ill-informed,” Sellers said. “Moreover, the claim that our employees deleted election files and destroyed evidence is outrageous, completely baseless and beneath the dignity of the Arizona Senate. I demand an immediate retraction of any public statements made to the news media and spread via Twitter.”

Sellers also blasted Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based cybersecurity firm Fann hired to lead the audit team, saying her contractors aren’t auditors and aren’t certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

“It’s clearer by the day: the people hired by the Senate are in way over their heads.  This is not funny; this is dangerous,” Sellers said.

Fann and the supervisors have been feuding since December, when she issued subpoenas for ballots, tabulation machines and other election materials so she could conduct an audit of the election. Lawmakers and others who had been promoting false claims that the 2020 election was rigged against former President Donald Trump had been demanding such an audit. The supervisors challenged the subpoenas in court, losing their case in February when a judge ordered them to turn over the materials to the Senate. 

The audit, which has been plagued by missteps and damaging revelations about the audit and the people leading it, has been underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix since late April.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.