Arizona Sen. Karen Fann at audit hearing: ‘This is not about Trump’
PHOENIX – Arizona Senate President Karen Fann has said it before and she said it again during Thursday’s highly anticipated update on the status of the ongoing audit of last year’s general election in metro Phoenix:
“The important thing that we wanted to make sure that everybody knew, which we told you, as well, at the beginning, is this is not about Trump. This is not about overturning the election. This has never been about anything other than election integrity,” the Prescott Republican said early on during a hearing that went on for more than two hours.
The hearing was livestreamed and open to the public, although Fann and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen were the only lawmakers involved.
They queried and received updates and answers from three key audit figures: Senate liaison Ken Bennett, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and CyFIR founder Ben Cotton.
Despite Fann’s stated purpose, many of Donald Trump’s supporters were anticipating a blockbuster report that would somehow eventually lead to the former president’s reinstatement.
What they got was a lot of technical descriptions about election and audit procedures, a smattering of allegations of potential issues and discrepancies, and concerns about Maricopa County’s refusal to turn over certain requested items.
The county, which says requested router data would compromise the security of multiple agencies, including the sheriff’s office, responded to some of the accusations on Twitter in real time.
The audit officials said they couldn’t provide a complete report about audit findings unless Maricopa County provides more information.
Fann said she would take additional legal action to acquire the desired material if necessary.
“I just want to state that at no time have we ever implied or inferred that there is any intentional misdoings here in any way whatsoever, and in fact we certainly hope not,” Fann said near the conclusion of the hearing.
“But we do need to have this information and answer these questions so that we can make sure that the voters of Arizona have solid answers as to how our election system works, the check-and-balances, to know that they have a safe and secure ballot.”
After the hearing, Maricopa County Board Chairman Jack Sellers issued a statement saying, “It’s clear the people hired by Arizona Senate leadership to supposedly bring integrity to our elections are instead just bringing incompetence.”
Senate Republicans authorized the audit after winning a court battle with the GOP-led Maricopa County Board of Supervisors over access to equipment and approximately 2.1 million ballots from the November 2020 election.
Cyber Ninjas was chosen as lead contractor despite having no previous experience with election audits.
Fann’s selection of the Florida-based firm’s $150,000 bid quickly drew scrutiny over Logan’s deleted Twitter account, which had activity supporting unfounded election conspiracy theories.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which consists of four Republicans and one Democrat, previously authorized two audits by independent contractors who are certified by the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.
Those audits found no problems, but state Senate Republicans subpoenaed the county for access to the election materials at the urging of Trump supporters who refused to accept President Joe Biden’s narrow victory Maricopa County and statewide.
The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee sent Logan a letter Wednesday requesting documentation about Cyber Ninjas’ role in the audit, how it’s being funded, and any possible connections between his Florida-based company former President Donald Trump or his surrogates.
Also Wednesday, Maricopa County committed nearly $3 million to replace election equipment that officials say can’t be reused after it was in the hands of uncertified auditors.
It’s possible that the county will attempt to get the Senate, which signed an indemnification contract, to cover the cost.
That was a topic during Thursday’s meeting, with the senators and the auditors all agreeing there was no reason the machines couldn’t be recertified for use.