Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer questions election officials during a Jan. 5, 2022, hearing at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Maricopa County Elections Department officials were responding to claims about the 2020 General Election made by Senate contractors Cyber Ninjas, Cyfir, and EchoMail. Photo by Michael Chow | Arizona Republic/pool photo
In a scathing letter, Maricopa County officials laid into Attorney General Mark Brnovich for issuing a report last month that was “full of false innuendo and misrepresentations” about the 2020 election.
“When election integrity is challenged, we have the collective responsibility to investigate and report our conclusions thoroughly and honestly. We have. You have not,” county leaders wrote. “The 2020 election was fair and the results indisputable. Rather than being truthful about what your office has learned about the election, you have omitted pertinent information, misrepresented facts, and cited distorted data to seed doubt about the conduct of elections in Maricopa County.”
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The letter, which was signed by all five county supervisors and Recorder Stephen Richer, goes point by point to correct the record of all the claims Brnovich kept alive in his report last month.
County Chairman Bill Gates, Supervisor Thomas Galvin and Recorder Stephen Richer are all attorneys and took Brnovich’s false and misleading claims even more personally as such.
“Given the oaths you took as both a lawyer and elected official, we were shocked by your April 6th letter,” they wrote.
In subsequent comments, Richer said Brnovich was acting irresponsibly. When a chief law enforcement officer like Brnovich is trafficking in false claims about the 2020 election, it carries more weight than the average politician using it for “sport,” he said
The letter notes Brnovich contradicted himself when he went on Fox Business shortly after the election to dismiss fraud claims and explain that Donald Trump lost while other GOP candidates won because Republican voters split their tickets. That is a common occurrence in Arizona especially over the past two cycles which saw Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema get elected together in 2018.
The county officials also criticized Brnovich for omitting important details from his interim report, including “inaccurate allegation of deleted election files” that the state Senate’s partisan “auditors” claimed they found and that the county rebutted. They accused Brnovich of leaving that and similarly debunked claims out of the report because it would “undermine the intended political narrative.”
And Maricopa County once again pushed back on Brnovich’s claims of election officials failing to maintain a chain of custody for 100,000 ballots, saying his investigators did not spend much time looking into it.
“Your agents spent less than one hour reviewing the statements at the Election Department and had no follow up questions about the forms that went unanswered,” the letter states.
Additionally, Brnovich claimed the county didn’t fulfill records requests in a timely manner –– which the county has adamantly denied –– and now the county in response has requested a records log from the AG seeking how long it has taken them to fill public records requests in the past two years.
During the accompanying open meeting where the supervisors voted unanimously to approve sending Brnovich the letter, each of the five supervisors and Richer took turns laying into Brnovich, who is seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate this year.
Galvin called Brnovich a “rogue attorney general.”
“If anyone cares about election integrity, it’s the five of us on this board and Recorder Richer,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we have a rogue attorney general who has crossed the line,”
Steve Gallardo, the lone Democrat on the board of supervisors, compared Brnovich to former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who was eventually disbarred after unethical behavior in office which included attacks on the supervisors at the time.
“He should be held accountable. He is an officer of the court. He should be held accountable by the State Bar. He should be held accountable by the voters of Arizona,” Gallardo said.
Brnovich has run afoul of the Bar’s ethics rules already: Earlier this year he agreed to a diversion plan for suing his clients, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and the Arizona Board of Regents. There is no indication the supervisors or Richer intend to file a complaint of their own.
Gallardo also called on Brnovich to resign and predicted that Brnovich is likely to lose in the August primary. He joins Democratic attorney general candidate Kris Mayes in calling on Brnovich to leave his office this week.
The county also noted in its letter that Brnovich’s office hasn’t ever issued an interim report for an investigation prior to this one. Issuing last month’s report to “score cheap political points” is below his office, they claimed.
“You spread misinformation and seed doubt, which has led to renewed threats and harassment of County election staff. Today, we call on you to correct the record. For the health of our democracy. For the safety and wellbeing of our public servants. For the sake of your conscience and the oath of office you swore,” they wrote.
They ended the letter questioning whether he would choose to help build public confidence for the elections coming up this year or “continue to undermine it.”
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