Documents shed light on security at Arizona audit

By: - June 23, 2021 1:57 pm

An off-duty Gila County Sheriff’s Office deputy patrols the floor of the Arizona election audit at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Documents released by the Arizona Senate shed new light on agreements between the legislative chamber and the groups providing private security services to the audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results. 

Among the documents is a contract requiring the Senate to make a $20,000 “contribution” to the Arizona Rangers, a non-profit law enforcement support agency. Mike Droll, the State Commander for the Arizona Rangers, said he wasn’t sure if the Senate had paid the money and said it was the only agreement between the Rangers and the Senate he was aware of. 

The documents were obtained under Arizona public records law and published by American Oversight, a nonprofit government watchdog organization.

The Phoenix New Times reported that the Senate has only made one payment in relation to the audit, and it is not to the Arizona Rangers. 

“We are out there to donate our services and time to the community,” Droll said to the Arizona Mirror, adding that the agreement “wasn’t contingent on how many hours of service” the organization’s members provided.

The agreement between the Rangers and the Senate is signed by Droll and Senate President Karen Fann, and strikes out the word “compensation” and replaces it with the hand-written word “contribution.” 

The Arizona Rangers have been fundraising as well, Droll said, as many of the Rangers involved are driving from areas far away from the audit. The group has raised more than $180,000 on a GoFundMe page. 

Droll’s name also appears on another service agreement related to security, but Droll said he was unaware of what the document was when shown it by the Mirror

The agreement lists the buyer of security services as the “Guardian Defense Fund” which was created by Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley. The 501(c)(4) was first used by Finchem to fundraise for his lawsuit against Rep. Charlene Fernandez, a Yuma Democrat who he claims defamed him. 

“That has nothing to do with the Arizona Rangers,” Droll said, adding that his name is listed because the Rangers have been coordinating security on site at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

The agreement lists 4 “DPS Troopers for security” at the coliseum. 

“DPS troopers are working off-duty at the Coliseum and are being paid by a private contractor,” Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said to the Mirror. “That’s all the information I know. DPS is not involved with the security company that hired the troopers.”

Shortly before the audit began, Finchem appeared on former Trump aide Steve Bannon’s show from the floor of the audit to say that his fund was paying for “additional security” and said that DPS was not supplying any security services. 

The treasurer of Finchem’s fund is Randy Pullen, a spokesman for the audit and a one-time chairman of the Arizona Repbulican Party.

Two other security groups are providing security services to the audit, including one that hires off-duty police officers

Peoria-based Law Enforcement Specialists entered into an agreement with the Arizona Senate on April 26 to provide security for the audit. However, the documents released this week by the Senate do not say how much the company is being paid. 

Phoenix based Anderson Security Agency has also been supplying security for the audit with armed guards at the rate of $50 an hour. The agreement for two guards obtained via public records request is only for 7 days, and it is unclear if the contract was extended. 

Fann, Finchem, Anderson Security and Law Enforcement Specialists did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins 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. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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