Maricopa County Republican official troubled by pressure from own party
PHOENIX – Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman knows politics can be a cutthroat business, but he never imagined that his own Republican party would be holding the blade against his neck.
“I’m not used to this,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday. “I’ve been a Republican since my first vote for President Reagan in the ‘80s, and I’m not used to having people on my own team shoving bayonets in me.”
On Friday, the Arizona Republic published text messages and voicemails obtained through public information requests that showed Hickman and other supervisors being pressured by fellow Republicans to act on behalf of Trump to prevent Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Hickman was chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which is controlled 4-1 by Republicans, during the November 2020 general election. He was reelected but no longer serves as chair on the powerful board, which governs a region that includes Phoenix and 60% of Arizona’s voters.
The newly released messages show that Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona GOP, tried to convince Republicans on the board to question the election results. At one point, she texted Hickman, “We need you to stop the counting.”
In addition to Ward’s contact, Hickman said he thinks that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, called all of the Republican supervisors, all while the county was engaged in multiple lawsuits related to the election.
“It was a little bit troubling, and I tried to tell anybody that I could to get to these people and say, ‘Look, my board, and definitely myself as chairman, I’m not going to have ex parte communications with anybody outside of this litigation process.’” he said.
“So yeah, there was a lot of lot going on.”
On Nov. 13, when it had become clear that Democrat Joe Biden would win Arizona’s 11 electoral votes, Ward told Hickman to expect a call from Trump.
Hickman said Tuesday he received two calls from the White House switchboard that he didn’t answer, on New Year’s Eve and Jan. 3.
In between those calls, and just few days before Congress was set to certify Biden’s victory, news broke that Trump had gotten Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on the phone and urged the Republican “to find 11,780 votes” – the number that would swing a tight Georgia race in favor of the incumbent.
Hickman said he would have loved to speak to the sitting president, but not in that situation.
“I listened to that and read the transcript and it’s just not somewhere I wanted to be,” Hickman said, referring to the Georgia call. “I didn’t want to walk into that space.
“There were too many people having communications outside of our board’s presence, and our county attorney, and I felt if there’s a need that I would have to tape this to cover myself, I’m not going to do that. So I just didn’t take the call.”
Hickman and the board continued to defend the vote count in Maricopa County and have maintained the outcome was not affected by fraud or irregularities. Multiple lawsuits pushing unproven allegations have been thrown out of court.
And even though the board authorized two independent audits, going beyond what was required under state law, that found no problems with the election, Republican leaders of the state Senate took the county to court to win access to voting equipment and the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in November.
The Senate hired Cyber Ninjas and other contractors to conduct what’s become a divisive audit starting in April, and the results are expected in late July or early August. Maricopa County officials have questioned the auditors’ competence, methods and intentions.
“Politics is a tough game across the aisle, but I’m not I’m not used to this kind of thing from people on my side of the aisle — none of my colleagues are,” Hickman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.