Arizona Republicans Who Fought 2020 Election Certification Silent on New State AG Report

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Several Republican state legislators in Arizona who signed a resolution urging Congress not to accept the state’s electoral votes for Joe Biden in 2020 remained silent this week after an investigation by the state attorney general debunked claims that 282 dead Arizona voters cast a ballot in 2020.

Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich responded to the state senate’s request for a criminal investigation into the alleged dead voter fraud on Monday, telling senate president Karen Fann in a letter that just one dead voter was found in his office’s investigation, which included hundreds of hours of research by the AG’s Election Integrity Unit.

While it was not clear who that single dead voter was, the AG’s office prosecuted a woman who admitted to voting with her dead mother’s ballot in 2020, according to the Arizona Republic.

“All other persons listed as deceased were found to be current voters,” he wrote.

Brnovich wrote that his office supported the Senate’s ballot review but that “allegations of widespread deceased voters from the Senate audit and other complaints received by the EIU are insufficient and not corroborated.”

National Review reached out to sixteen legislators who signed a joint resolution in December 2020 asking Congress to either accept the 11 “alternate” electoral votes for former president Donald Trump or “to have all electoral votes nullified completely until a full forensic audit can be conducted.” Only one — state Representative John Fillmore — responded to a request for comment

Those who did not respond to a request for comment include state representatives Kevin Payne, Leo Biasiucci, David Cook, Travis Grantham, Walter Blackman, Jacqueline Parker, Beverly Pingerelli, Joseph Chaplik, Jake Hoffman, Judy Burges and Mark Finchem. Finchem won the GOP nomination for Arizona secretary of state in Tuesday’s primary election.

Several members of the state senate did not respond either, including senators Kelly Townsend, Sonny Borrelli, Warren Petersen, and Wendy Rogers.

Fillmore, who says he still believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump but that he has stopped pressing the issue as not to start a Civil War, said: “We never said that dead people voted in the election and you know, in 2020, there were so many [allegations] and a lot of it was frivolous. The contentions and the ‘dead people are voting’ and ‘people that voted 37 times’ and things of that nature and we were never saying that.”

He accused Brnovich of investigating some of the more absurd claims to further his own political interests; Brnovich was running for U.S. Senate in Arizona but was defeated by venture capitalist Blake Masters in the Republican primary on Tuesday.

Investigators with the AG’s office looked into 6,634 complaints about dead voters in 2020, including reports from the state senate’s contractor, the Cyber Ninjas.

“Our agents investigated all individuals that Cyber Ninjas reported as dead and many were very surprised to learn they were allegedly deceased,” the state attorney general said.

The Florida-based Cyber Ninjas issued a report more than ten months ago after carrying out a  review of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County, Ariz. In April, Brnovich said an initial review of the contractor’s report found “serious vulnerabilities” in the election’s procedures, but no crimes. 

Another report submitted to Brnovich’s office did not separate alleged dead voters from dead registrants.

“Once again, these claims were thoroughly investigated and resulted in only a handful of potential cases,” the letter said. “Some were so absurd the names and birthdates didn’t even match the deceased, and others included dates of death after the election.”

Fann, who gave the list of suspected dead voters to the AG’s office as part of the state senate’s review of ballots from the 2020 presidential and U.S. Senate races, thanked the AG’s office for its investigation in a statement to the Arizona Republic.

The senate president said the results answer some of the “grave concerns” voters and lawmakers had about election fraud.

“They asked us to do the hard work of fact finding, and we are delivering the facts,” Fann wrote. “This step of the AG’s investigation is critical to restoring the diminished confidence our constituents expressed following the last election.”

Fillmore said the Senate audit was a “farce and a joke” and that the arrest of Guillermina Fuentes, who is accused of illegally collecting early ballots in the 2020 primary election, is proof that there was widespread voter fraud and “mules” in the election, similar to the debunked theories in Dinesh D’Souza’s 2000 Mules

Fuentes, the former mayor of San Luis, Ariz., pleaded guilty in June as part of an agreement with state prosecutors to drop forgery and conspiracy charges against her, the Arizona Republic reported. Investigators with the state attorney general’s office said Fuentes, a well-known Democratic operative in the area, ran a sophisticated operation in which she convinced voters to let her gather and sometimes fill out their ballots. 

Prosecutors ultimately dropped three felony counts, unable to prove that she filled out one voter’s ballot and forged signatures on some of the four ballots she illegally returned for people who were not family members.

However, investigators said there is no reason to believe Fuentes’s ballot harvesting was part of a widespread effort.

Fillmore argued that to pursue Fuentes and not nonprofits who he claims are paying “mules” to conduct “ballot trafficking,” is akin to investigating a small-time drug dealer rather than a drug cartel.

“So when Mr. Brnovich goes, ‘Oh, well, I proved that there was no dead people voting, that would be the equivalent of saying, ‘Well, I proved that no people came from outer space and voted.”

He said he was concerned the Senate did not immediately have an audit and that the audit that ultimately occurred was “more of an embarrassment than an audit.”

State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who did not sign on to the 2020 resolution regarding the state’s electoral votes but has said deceased voters are being sent ballots, told National Review that the Senate audit and Brnovich’s investigation were both wasted opportunities.

“Well, personally, I think that Karen Fann has just missed an opportunity to do something legitimate when it comes to elections,” she said. “She’s off chasing rainbows and unicorns. She mismanaged the audit. She had Cyber Ninjas — a discredited company — lead a very, very, very important audit review and she had the AG spend months and months and months using hundreds of hours of resources to ultimately come up with nothing.”

Ugenti-Rita, who ran for Arizona secretary of state but was defeated by Finchem in Tuesday’s primary, accused Brnovich of mishandling the situation as well, by failing to complete a timely investigation and waiting until the day before the election to release his report. 

“There are places that need significant improvement and are ripe for exploitation,” she said. “There are and we need to focus our attention on them. But what has happened is you’ve got a bunch of grifters who have exploited this issue for their own self-promotion.”

Asked if she was concerned that people were voting on behalf of dead voters and if it was worthwhile to investigate that, Ugenti-Rita said: “It absolutely does happen. I’ve seen it firsthand, ballots being sent to people who are deceased. It’s absolutely legitimate.”

However, asked if she believes the AG’s report was accurate she replied, “I don’t see why they wouldn’t be.”

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