An Arizona newspaper has filed a lawsuit against the GOP led State Seante and contractor to try to obtain information about the audit of the 2020 election results in Maricopa County.
The Arizona Republic newspaper has now gone to court to demand records from the state Senate and one of its contractors to shed light on the audit of the 2002 election results.
The news organization on Wednesday filed a special action in Maricopa County Superior Court seeking financial records and communications about the audit from the Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the contractors hired to do the audit.
The Republic had earlier requested the information through the Arizona Public Records Law but was denied access, prompting the legal complaint. The real reason they are pursuing this as the audit isn’t 100% finished, is to throw a monkey wrench into the results, and cause problems as the state Senate works to dot the I’s and cross the T’s.
How the audit is being conducted, the businesses doing the work, where the money is coming from and what officials are saying to each other about it are for the most part not publicly known.
Documents related to the audit are public records because the audit is being conducted under the direction of the Senate, a public body, and the Senate is required to make available records that are in the custody or control of Cyber Ninjas, the complaint argues.
Cyber Ninjas “by virtue of its performing a core governmental function funded in part by state taxpayer dollars, was required to maintain these Public Records and make them available,” the complaint said. “Yet Cyber Ninjas has refused to do so.”
The Republic is seeking the records to provide the public with a better understanding of the unprecedented audit of the election, which involved the Senate issuing subpoenas to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and moving election equipment and about 2.1 million ballots to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum for inspection by private contractors. The audit has taken weeks and has yet to conclude.
“Arizona law entitles the public to know how this audit is being conducted and funded,” attorney David Bodney, who represents The Republic, said Wednesday after the action was filed in court. “And the Arizona public records law does not permit the Senate to play ‘hide the ball’ by delegating core responsibilities to a third party like Cyber Ninjas and concealing records of government activities and public expenditures in Cyber Ninjas’ files.”
Bodney questioned why the senators who ordered the audit would not want the documents for themselves, particularly those communications involving subcontractors to Cyber Ninjas, so they could understand the work being done in their name.
“The Senate asserts that it is not even required to ask Cyber Ninjas to share copies of its Arizona audit records with them, much less disclose them to the public,” Bodney said. “And Cyber Ninjas won’t produce copies of these public records, either. Their conduct leaves us no choice but to call upon the court to enforce the public records law.”
An attorney for the Senate did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. But in a similar case seeking public records from Cyber Ninjas, attorneys for the Senate have argued in a court filing that such records need not be provided in a public records request.
“Private corporations that serve as vendors to the state government are not ‘public bodies,’ ” the senators said in a motion to dismiss a case brought by a nonprofit group called American Oversight, which formed in 2017 to investigate potential fraud in the Trump administration. “It follows that any documents in their possession, custody or control are outside the scope of the Arizona Public Records Act.”
You can read more from our friends at AZ Central. Thanks to AZ Central for contributing to this article.