Here’s what Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs said about Brnovich investigation findings

Feb 23, 2023, 12:18 PM

From left, Katie Hobbs, Doug Ducey and Mark Brnovich sign the official certification for the Arizon...

From left, Katie Hobbs, Doug Ducey and Mark Brnovich sign the official certification for the Arizona general election canvass Dec. 5, 2022, in Phoenix. Hobbs, now governor, was secretary of state at the time. Ducey was governor and Brnovich attorney general. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs called revelations that former Attorney General Mark Brnovich withheld findings from his office’s election investigation “concerning, to say the least.”

“As the secretary of state over the last four years and being embroiled in the post-election drama that played out here in Arizona, it is concerning, to say the least, that an elected official would use their political position to further their political interests, cover up information [and] report information contrary to what the investigators found,” Hobbs, a Democrat, told reporters Thursday morning in Avondale.

Brnovich never released a full report on the findings of his office’s exhaustive investigation into election fraud claims. Brnovich was in the midst of an unsuccessful run for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination when much of what was revealed Wednesday was available to him.

New Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, released documents Wednesday from her predecessor’s investigation that, she said, “show what we have suspected for over two years – the 2020 election in Arizona was conducted fairly and accurately by elections officials.”

In an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show on Wednesday, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes said Brnovich should be disbarred.

“We’ve had people suffering death threats because of this,” the Democrat said. “We’ve had people leave their careers because of the harassment and intimidation that they suffered fueled by the lie, fueled by what Brnovich could have stopped.”

Hobbs wouldn’t weigh in on disbarment Thursday, although she previously filed a complaint with the Arizona State Bar over the way Brnovich represented state agencies and officials as part of his attorney general duties.

In February 2022, Brnovich reached an agreement with the state bar to resolve complaints alleging he violated ethical rules in representing Hobbs while she was secretary of state and the Arizona Board of Regents.

Brnovich and several lawyers working for him reportedly entered a diversion agreement, a process that allows lawyers to have complaints dismissed without sanctions after a period of time if they meet requirements such as training, mentoring, counseling or any other actions negotiated between the lawyers and the bar.

“It was an unprecedented move when we filed an ethics complaint against the attorney general, and this just provides more support for that action, that he was not acting in the best interest of Arizonans, but for his own best interest,” Hobbs said Thursday.

Among the documents released Wednesday was a March 2022 summary of investigative findings, which ruled out most of the fraud claims spread by allies and supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Yet a month later, Brnovich released an “interim report” that claimed his investigation “revealed serious vulnerabilities that must be addressed and raises questions about the 2020 election in Arizona.”

He released his April report despite pushback from his investigators who said some of its claims were refuted by their probe. At the time, Brnovich was facing fierce criticism from Trump, who claimed he wasn’t doing enough to prosecute election fraud.

Brnovich also did not release a September memo that systematically refuted a bevy of election conspiracies that have taken root on the right, including allegations of dead or duplicate voters, pre-marked ballots flown in from Asia, election servers connected to the internet and even manipulation by satellites controlled by the Italian military.

The memo describes an all-encompassing probe that became the top priority for the attorney general’s investigators, who spent more than 10,000 hours looking into 638 complaints. They opened 430 investigations and referred 22 cases for prosecution. President Joe Biden won Arizona by a little over 10,000 votes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Here’s what Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs said about Brnovich investigation findings