Mayes releases Arizona election investigation findings that Brnovich withheld
Feb 22, 2023, 1:49 PM
PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes on Wednesday released documents compiled during her predecessor’s investigation of the 2020 election, triggering a flood of criticism aimed at Mark Brnovich.
“The results of this exhaustive and extensive investigation show what we have suspected for over two years – the 2020 election in Arizona was conducted fairly and accurately by elections officials,” Mayes, a Democrat, said in a press release.
“The 10,000-plus hours spent diligently investigating every conspiracy theory under the sun distracted this office from its core mission of protecting the people of Arizona from real crime and fraud.”
Officials from both parties ripped Brnovich for keeping the complete findings under wraps while he was attorney general and running for Senate last year, even after he lost the Republican primary in August.
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman said he was “absolutely disgusted” that Brnovich wasn’t more forthright about what his investigators found.
NEW: Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman speaks out about the concealed Final AG Report on the 2020 Election. "This was a gross misuse of his elected office and an appalling waste of taxpayer dollars"
Full statement: https://t.co/fbQ7H2Y5F2
— Maricopa County (@maricopacounty) February 22, 2023
“He and his leadership team concealed a report that proved the November 2020 election was conducted fairly, lawfully and accurately,” Hickman, a Republican, said in a statement.
“Not only did he ignore his own investigators in issuing a different, ‘interim report,’ he falsely suggested wrongdoing by Maricopa County, never correcting the record and blatantly never sharing the team’s final report with the public.”
Secretary of State Adrian Fontes was Maricopa County’s recorder during the 2020 election, which saw Democrat Joe Biden defeat Republican incumbent Donald Trump in Arizona and its largest county.
“I am astounded that the result of this costly investigation, which thoroughly debunked these claims, was kept from the taxpayers who paid the bill,” Fontes, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Election workers throughout the state and the nation are facing threats coming from these unfounded allegations of fraud and they deserve an apology — especially coming from an official who swore to protect them.
“Whether or not I was right all along, vindication is not sweet when it comes at such a cost.”
Trump and many of his loyalist continue to claim he only lost because of voter fraud despite repeated debunking and failed legal challenges. Meanwhile, many Republican candidates in Arizona and nationwide have made election conspiracy theories a centerpiece of their campaigns.
The most prominent election deniers fared poorly in the 2022 general elections, including Arizona’s Kari Lake and Mark Finchem.
Mayes released three 2022 documents on Wednesday: a previously unreleased interim findings summary from March, an April draft interim report with edits and suggestions that weren’t previously released, and a previously unreleased investigative summary from September.
They shoot down a litany of election conspiracy greatest hits, including false claims of bamboo ballots, large numbers of dead voters and tabulation machines being hooked up to the internet.
The investigative summary, which is dated Sept. 19, mentions “high-profile matters” brought to the AG’s Office by “Cyber Ninjas Incorporated, True the Vote, Verity Vote and elected officials.”
“In each instance and in each matter, the aforementioned parties did not provide any evidence to support their allegations,” the summary says.
Cyber Ninjas (CNI) is the firm hired by Arizona Senate Republican leaders to conduct the ballyhooed “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 election.
While the hand recount portion of the review corroborated Biden’s victory, CNI’s final report included a host of concerns about election integrity in Maricopa County. Brnovich’s office looked into the concerns and found nothing, according to the September investigative summary.
“Our comprehensive review of CNI’s audit showed they did not provide any evidence to support their allegations of widespread fraud or ballot manipulation,” the summary says.
The document also says officials who publicly claimed to have evidence of voter fraud, including then-state Rep. Finchem, didn’t repeat their allegations when they were subject to laws about making false reports to law enforcement.
Agents said they talked to Finchem about his public claims of a source reporting more than 30,000 fraudulent votes in Pima County.
“During that meeting, Mr. Finchem did not repeat those allegations, specifically stating he did not have any evidence of fraud and he did not wish to take up our time,” the September summary says.
Finchem went on win the Republican nomination for secretary of state before losing handily to Fontes in the general election.