Arizona GOP, Kelli Ward face another suit over state party election

Mar 31, 2021, 11:30 AM

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)...

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX – Republicans seeking a new state party election have filed a second lawsuit against the Arizona GOP and Chairwoman Kelli Ward, their attorney said Tuesday.

Attorney Tim La Sota, who represents Sandra Dowling and William Beard, said enough state party committee members have signed petitions to call a revote in April.

The court filing asked for an injunction to keep Ward from blocking the meeting.

“We’re demanding that a special meeting be called for the purpose of doing the election that occurred in January in an actual compliant manner, with basic standards of election procedure,” La Sota told KTAR News. 92.3 FM.

Ward said in a Facebook video that the request for the special meeting had failed to match requirements established by the party’s bylaws.

“This effort by a disgruntled few to hurt our party is over. Now that we’ve had a chance to review the signatures, we can officially announce that they haven’t met at least one of the basic requirements needed to call a special meeting,” Ward said.

“There will be no special meeting taking place on April 24,” she said, describing the attempt as “rogue” and “reckless and irresponsible.”

The chairwoman said the special meeting required 20% or more of the membership that represented at least nine counties and the group didn’t reach the condition.

La Sota disagrees.

“In this case, far more than 20% did agree to that,” he said. “They signed a petition to that effect.”

Ward said in the video many of the state committeemen had alerted party headquarters that their names had been used without permission and that any signatures from them were fraudulent.

A previous suit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court seeks an order requiring an audit of the Jan. 23 state party elections, citing concerns about ballot security and overall confusion. Dowling, one of La Sota’s clients, was initially declared a winner of one of the at-large executive committee posts. It was later announced that she actually had lost.

“The party has indicated they’re going to fight, as they’ve fought everything tooth and nail,” La Sota said.

“It’s funny: They’re out there complaining about other elections that have been held, but when people point out the irregularities that occurred with their election, all of a sudden they throw up procedural roadblocks, they turn to obstructionism,” he said.

Ward has vigorously questioned President Joe Biden’s November victory in Arizona and mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to have it overturned.

She narrowly won a second term as state party chair in a runoff during the January election that is now being challenged.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona GOP, Kelli Ward face another suit over state party election