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Phoenix, AZ, July 15, 2021 – The Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County today rejected an attempt by the Arizona Senate to dismiss American Oversight’s public records lawsuit seeking the release of documents related to the “audit” of ballots cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 presidential election.
In a seven-page ruling dismissing the motion, Judge Michael Kemp wrote: “It is difficult to conceive of a case with a more compelling public interest demanding public disclosure and public scrutiny.”
American Oversight had submitted requests under Arizona’s public records law seeking the release of key documents from the audit. When the Senate failed to comply with the requests, the group filed suit on May 19. The Senate had argued that it should not have to release records held by Cyber Ninjas, the contractor conducting the “audit,” and had asked the court to dismiss the case.
In the ruling, Judge Kemp wrote that the court “completely rejects Senate Defendants’ argument” that records held by Cyber Ninjas are exempt from Arizona’s public records law.
“Starting now, the Arizona Senate is going to have to face real, public accountability,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “For months, the public has been asked to trust the word of senators about the sham audit of the 2020 election. Arizona law does not allow the Senate to outsource democracy and shroud it in secrecy. This ruling makes clear that the Senate must immediately begin releasing records to the public.”
The court also rejected a separate motion by the Senate that had sought to consolidate American Oversight’s lawsuit with another public records lawsuit brought by the Arizona Republic. That lawsuit will proceed separately.
American Oversight’s lawsuit seeks the release of key documents related to the Arizona Senate’s “audit” of ballots cast in Maricopa County, including:
- Communications between former Secretary of State Ken Bennett and any party engaged in planning or executing the audit.
- Contracts between the Senate, Cyber Ninjas, and third-party vendors.
- Records reflecting the audit’s budget and any external funding it may have received.
- Plans detailing the audit’s operations, including security measures, chains of custody, organization charts, and investigation techniques.
- Plans and training materials for direct voter contact.
American Oversight previously obtained emails from the Arizona Senate, released in response to separate public records requests, that show state Senate President Karen Fann boasting of having the support of former President Donald Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani. In one late December 2020 email, Fann wrote that she had received a “personal call from President Trump thanking us for pushing to prove any fraud.”
Through this litigation, and the watchdog’s broader investigation, American Oversight will continue to pursue oversight of the “audit” and other partisan efforts aimed at pushing false narratives about election fraud. Follow the investigation of the audit here.
American Oversight is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit ethics watchdog that uses public records requests backed by litigation to expose official misconduct, threats to democracy, and abuses of power at all levels of government. Documents obtained by American Oversight have supported investigative work by journalists, congressional committees, and independent watchdogs, and have been featured in hundreds of news reports across the country. Follow us at @weareoversight and learn more at http://www.americanoversight.org.