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Maricopa County asks audit to keep documents for possible legal action

(AP Photo/Matt York, Pool)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County on Friday sent a litigation hold and preservation notice to Senate President Karen Fann asking that contractors and others associated with the the election audit preserve documents and evidence for possible legal action.

The four-page notice, sent by Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel, comes in the same week the county has fought back against a claim from the audit’s Twitter account that election databases were deleted and evidence spoiled.

“It is clear the Arizona Senate and its contractors do not intend to retract false allegations defaming the County and its employees,” Maricopa County Chairman Jack Sellers said in a statement.

“For that reason, Maricopa County is formally requesting Senate President Fann, Senator Petersen, Senate liaison Ken Bennett and contractors involved in the ‘audit’ preserve documents and evidence as they may be subject to future legal claims.”

Maricopa County sent a 14-page letter and supporting documentation to Fann on Monday that included a rebuttal to the claim, saying the auditors couldn’t find the data because they didn’t know where to look.

The county followed up with a tweet Tuesday reaffirming the rebuttal.

“Your tweet, which relies on the ‘modified date’ shown in the screenshot as evidence of wrongdoing, is demonstrably false; the only thing it does demonstrate is your auditors’ incompetence,” the letter said.

“Their stunning lack of a basic understanding for how their software works is egregious and only made worse by the false tweet sent defaming the hardworking employees of Maricopa County.”

Ben Cotton, founder of a computer forensics firm working on the audit, told Fann and Petersen at a special meeting Tuesday that he recovered the files that were supposedly deleted.

The claim of deleted databases was amplified by former President Donald Trump and his supporters, who believe conspiracy theories about election irregularities.

The audit’s official Twitter account, which has about 60,000 followers, tweeted the allegation May 12 and it received more than 12,000 retweets.

It was the account’s pinned tweet until Tuesday.

The audit started April 23 and went on hiatus this week because of previously scheduled graduation ceremonies at the Coliseum, where the counting will resume Monday under a lease that runs through the end of June.

When the break began Friday, only about 500,000 of the ballots had been hand counted.

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