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Former top prosecutors: GOP Cochise supervisors should face charges for failing to certify the election

By: - November 29, 2022 5:09 pm

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Former Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard and Republican Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley are asking state and county prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into Republican Cochise County supervisors who have refused to certify the election results. 

In a letter to Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre, Goddard and Romley said that supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd need to be held accountable for wantonly ignoring state law.

“Their votes against certification resulted in the three-member Board failing to perform its legal duty to certify the election,” the letter says. “As the former Attorney General of Arizona and the former County Attorney of Maricopa County, we take no pleasure in making this prosecution recommendation, but we believe deeply that the rule of law dictates that public officials be held accountable when they refuse to comply with their legal obligations—all the more so where those officials’ actions threaten to undo the proper administration and integrity of elections, disenfranchise thousands of voters, and potentially even alter the results of some races.” 

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The county refused to certify its election results under the false belief that its tabulators had not been properly certified, despite the fact that state and federal officials have provided evidence to the county that the machines have indeed been certified. The third supervisor, Democrat Ann English, voted to proceed with the election canvass.

Now the county is facing a lawsuit from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for its failure to certify the results, which it is required to do so under state law. 

As Goddard and Romley see it, Crosby and Judd are now in possible violation of three Arizona criminal laws. 

“Supervisors Crosby and Judd had knowledge of this legal duty but willfully refused to comply, citing discredited and demonstrably false conspiracy theories in support of their refusal,” the letter says, noting that the duo likely violated a state law requiring officials to perform election duties and committed a class 6 felony. 

Goddard and Romley said the two Republicans also appear to be in violation laws that carry class 3 and class 2 misdemeanors. 

“I think there are clear legal violations,” Goddar told the Arizona Mirror. The former AG said he had never seen anything like what is happening in Cochise during his tenure as the state’s top prosecutor. 

“If you have valid, sensible charges that the election had an issue, you can come in and raise that — but not this way,” Goddard said. “You’ve got other options that don’t involve a violation of their oath of office.” 

Goddard said the two supervisors are violating the laws they’ve sworn to uphold, a point firmly made in the letter sent to the AG. If prosecutors turn a blind eye, this won’t be the last time elected officials flout the law, Goddard and Romley wrote. 

“​​Failing to hold Supervisors Crosby and Judd accountable for their violations of law could embolden other public officials to abandon their legal duties in future elections,” the letter says. “Accordingly, we respectfully urge that your offices use your authority to investigate and, if the evidence warrants, to prosecute Supervisors Crosby and Judd for any violations of law. The preservation of free and fair elections in our state depends on it.” 

Judd, who has espoused the QAnon conspiracy theory and was present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did Crosby. 

Goddard said that this letter is a message to public officials in the state who may try to do something similar. 

“We’re not trying to appeal to voters in this one, it is aimed directly at public officials both in Cochise County and across the state who may not do on a whim what they are required to do,” Goddard said.

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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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