ARIZONA NEWS

Watchdog group sues for Arizona Senate election audit records

May 20, 2021, 9:00 AM
Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors...
Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, Thursday, May 6, 2021 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The audit, ordered by the Arizona Senate, has the U.S. Department of Justice saying it is concerned about ballot security and potential voter intimidation arising from the unprecedented private recount of the 2020 presidential election results. (AP Photo/Matt York, Pool)
(AP Photo/Matt York, Pool)

PHOENIX — A government watchdog group is suing the Arizona Senate seeking access to records related to the Senate Republicans’ audit of 2020 election results in Maricopa County.

Washington-based American Oversight filed the suit in Maricopa County Superior Court on Tuesday. It says the Senate is violating Arizona’s public records law by failing to turn over audit records.

The watchdog group says it’s seeking a variety of records including communications of Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett and the audit’s budget and funders.

Attorney Roopali Desai says in a statement that the Senate can’t get around public records laws by hiring a private firm to perform government functions.

A Senate GOP spokesman did not immediately comment.

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An audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County requested by Arizona Senate Republicans is underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. (Getty Images/Courtney Pedroza) An audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County requested by Arizona Senate Republicans is underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. (Getty Images/Courtney Pedroza) An audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County requested by Arizona Senate Republicans is underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. (Getty Images/Courtney Pedroza) An audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County requested by Arizona Senate Republicans is underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. (Getty Images/Courtney Pedroza) An audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County requested by Arizona Senate Republicans is underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, April 28, 2021. (Pool Photo/Mark Henle) Dozens of volunteers at Phoenix's Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 28, 2021, count some of the 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County's 2020 general election.  (KTAR News Photo/Peter Samore) Ordered by Arizona Senate Republicans, ballot scanning equipment is set up by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based consultancy, overseeing an audit at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) An audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County requested by Arizona Senate Republicans is underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 27, 2021. (Pool Photo/Mark Henle) An audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County requested by Arizona Senate Republicans is underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, April 27, 2021. (Pool Photo/Mark Henle) Ken Bennett, the former Republican Arizona Secretary of State, walks the floor of the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum during setup of a 2020 election audit called for by the Arizona Republican lead Senate on Thursday in Phoenix on April 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) An audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County requested by Arizona Senate Republicans is underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. (Pool Photo/Mark Henle) Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, left, a Florida-based consultancy, and former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, right, talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Some of the 2.1 million ballots cast during the 2020 election, are brought in for recounting at a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Some of the 2.1 million ballots cast during the 2020 election, are brought in for recounting at a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Screenshot/AZAudit.org) (Maricopa County Elections Department Screenshot) Some of the 2.1 million ballots cast during the 2020 election, ready for recounting at a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, left, a Florida-based consultancy, talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as a Cyber Ninjas IT technician demonstrates a ballot scan during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) FILE - In this Wednesday, April 21, 2021 file photo, officials unload election equipment into the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds in Phoenix. Maricopa County officials began delivering equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden on Wednesday and will move 2.1 million ballots to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Matt York) Officials wait to unload election equipment into the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Phoenix. Maricopa County officials began delivering equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden on Wednesday and will move 2.1 million ballots to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Matt York) Officials unlock a truck prior to unloading election equipment into the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Phoenix. Maricopa County officials began delivering equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden on Wednesday and will move 2.1 million ballots to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Matt York) (Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Elections Department) (Getty Images/Courtney Pedroza)

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Watchdog group sues for Arizona Senate election audit records