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Watchdog files contempt motion against Arizona Senate for not releasing audit records

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A watchdog group that successfully sued the Republican-led Arizona Senate for disclosure of election audit records is accusing Senate President Karen Fann of failing to comply in contempt of court.

American Oversight asked the Superior Court of Maricopa County on Thursday to enforce sanctions against Fann and force compliance with multiple orders requiring the release of communications and other financial records related to the Senate's audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, including records possessed by private audit contractor Cyber Ninjas and its subcontractors.

The group pointed to a Sept. 17 email written by Jack Wilenchik, an attorney representing Cyber Ninjas, saying his client is in the "'throes' of completing its work for the Senate." While it "intends to produce copies of its communications with the Senate and its officials," he said Cyber Ninjas "is unable to make that production at this moment in time because it needs to focus on completing its contractual duty of producing a written report."

ARIZONA SENATE PREVIEWS MARICOPA AUDIT REPORT PRESENTATION

American Oversight argued Fann and the Senate have an obligation to compel the release of the records but have failed to do so.

"And even crediting Cyber Ninjas’ fatuous assertion that its work on the audit is the cause of its inability to provide the public records, it would have been a simple matter for Defendants to instruct their agent to prioritize compliance with this Court’s orders over continued work on an audit that has no specific date requirement for completion and has dragged on for months. But Defendants elected to do none of those things, and are in contempt," the group's motion said.

The Washington Examiner reached out to Fann for comment.

Both American Oversight and the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic filed lawsuits for access under public records law.

A judge ordered the Senate to release records related to the audit in August, and an appeals court later upheld the ruling.

The Senate’s attorneys argued such documents, which included information about donors who funded the audit, are not subject to public disclosure rules because Cyber Ninjas, a private company, has them, as well as other subcontractors.

The Arizona Supreme Court on Sept. 14 rejected a final appeal by Fann and the Senate to overturn the ruling. The Arizona Senate asked Cyber Ninjas to publicize all records related to the controversial review that same day.

"There is no dispute that the audit is being conducted with public funds, and that Cyber Ninjas and its sub-vendors are agents of the Senate," the court wrote. "In this case the Senate has argued no exemption that, if properly recognized, would shield itself from the responsibility to inform the public of activities regarding the audit."

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The contempt motion was filed a day before auditors plan to deliver their findings to the state Senate months after the controversial review began.

Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, CyFIR founder Ben Cotton, and others are expected to show the results of the audit to Fann and Judiciary Chairman Warren Peterson at 1 p.m. local time on Friday. The presentation in the State Senate Chamber will be streamed live to the public.

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Tags: News, Arizona, 2020 Elections, State Courts, lawsuit

Original Author: Jeremy Beaman

Original Location: Watchdog files contempt motion against Arizona Senate for not releasing audit records

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