The Arizona Supreme Court earlier this week left in place rulings from two lower courts ordering the state Senate — and the company it hired — to release all records concerning its widely derided audit of 2.1 million Maricopa County votes. The presidential election ballots have already been certified multiple times by actual election officials.
Records regarding a very public concern commissioned by the state Senate cannot dodge public records law simply because they’re held by a private company, the courts ruled in suit for access to records by good government group American Oversight and The Arizona Republic.
“Arizona law does not allow public servants to outsource democracy and shroud their conduct in secrecy,” Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said after the decision.
But now Cyber Ninjas is blatantly defying the order, placing the state Senate in legal trouble.
The state Senate’s attorney has informed the company that its refusal to turn over the court-ordered records jeopardizes the Senate’s ability to comply with the Court of Appeals order. The interests of the Senate and Cyber Ninjas have now “diverged,” attorney Kory Langhofer warned Cyber Ninjas attorney Jack Wilenchik, the Arizona Mirror reported.
“The Senate will not support or advance any legal claim, defense, or position espoused by CNI [Cyber Ninjas] that has the effect of limiting or delaying CNI’s compliance with the Senate’s Sept. 14 request,” Langhofer informed Wilenchik in a letter.
The Ninjas are refusing to turn over staffing records, internal communications, and communications with its subcontractors. To do so would not be “practical, workable, fair or legal,” and would create an “unsettling precedent” for other contractors who work for the government, Wilenchik insisted in an email Friday to Langhofer.
In a voluntary show of “goodwill,” however, it will provide “financial statements” concerning the audit, communications with the Senate (which the Senate already has), and updated policies and procedures used by subcontractors, noted Wilenchik.
Late last month, on a court-ordered deadline, the Senate released tens of thousands of records already in its possession, with many of them revealing the extremely partisan nature of the operation. Records revealed that the operation has been bankrolled by groups headed by former President Donald Trump’s ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn (nearly $1 million), conspiracy lawyer Sidney Powell ($550,000) and two correspondents from One American News Network ($605,000) — who gushed about the audit operation while paying for it.
The Ninjas company has vowed to finally release a report of its ballot findings next Friday after several missed deadlines. It was initially supposed to report in mid-May.
The “audit” triggered suspicion right from the start. The head of the company predicted months before it even began that “hundreds of thousand of votes” would inevitably be found for Trump. Ballots have even been examined for traces of bamboo in a bizarre bid to prove the Chinese hacked the votes. And truckloads of voter data were spirited away to a cabin in the Montana woods, 1,300 miles from where those votes were cast.
The Arizona vote was certified nearly nine months ago by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey after several official recounts failed to find any irregularities. Biden beat Trump by 10,457 votes in the state, edging out Trump by more than 2 percentage points ― about 45,000 votes ― in Maricopa County.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.