Republican Arizona election official says Trump allegations 'unhinged'
Phoenix – The Republican who now leads the Arizona county elections department targeted by a GOP audit of the 2020 election results is slamming former President Donald Trump and others in his party for their continued falsehoods about how the election was run.
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer on Saturday called a Trump statement accusing the county of deleting an elections database “unhinged” and called on other Republicans to stop the unfounded accusations.
“We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country,” Richer tweeted.
Richer became recorder in January after defeating the Democratic incumbent.
The former president’s statement came as Republican Senate President Karen Fann has demanded the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors come to the Senate to answer questions raised by the private auditors she has hired. The Senate took possession of 2.1 million ballots and election equipment last month for what was supposed to be a three-week hand recount of the presidential race won by Democratic President Joe Biden.
Instead, the auditors have moved as a snail’s pace and had to shut down Thursday after counting about 500,000 ballots. They plan to resume counting in a week, after high school graduation ceremonies planned for the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, which they rented for the recount.
Trump’s statement said, in part, that “the entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED! This is illegal and the Arizona State Senate, who is leading the Forensic Audit, is up in arms.”
Richer and the board say that statement is just plain wrong. In recent days, both he and the board have begun aggressively pushing back at what they see as continuing falsehoods from Republicans who question Trump’s loss.
“Enough with the defamation. Enough with the unfounded allegations,” Richer tweeted Thursday. “I came to this office to competently, fairly, and lawfully administer the duties of the office. Not to be accused by own party of shredding ballots and deleting files for an election I didn’t run. Enough.”
The board, led by Republican Chairman Jack Sellers, have been aggressively using Twitter in recent days to push back, firing off a series of messages slamming the private company doing the audit. The board plans to hold a public hearing Monday to further to refute lies and lay out facts about these issues.”
“I know you all have grown weary of lies and half-truths six months after 2020 General Elections,” Sellers said Friday in announcing Monday’s meeting.
Fann sent Sellers a letter on Wednesday requesting that county officials publicly answer questions at the Senate on Tuesday, but she stopped short of her threat to issue subpoenas.
Fann repeated the Senate’s demand for access to administrative passwords for vote-counting machines and internet routers. County officials say they have turned over all the passwords they have and have refused to give up the routers, saying it would compromise sensitive data, including classified law enforcement information held by the sheriff’s office.
Fann proposed allowing its contractor to view data from the routers at county facilities under supervision of the sheriff’s office. “The Senate has no interest in viewing or taking possession of any information that is unrelated to the administration of the 2020 general election,” she wrote.
The county says the passwords the Senate is seeking are maintained by Dominion Voting Systems Inc., which makes the vote-counting machines and leases them to the county. The company said in a statement Thursday that it cooperates with auditors certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and did so for two prior audits of 2020 results in Maricopa County, but won’t work with Cyber Ninjas.
Fann has hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm, to oversee an unprecedented, partisan review of the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county. They are conducting a hand recount of all 2.1 million ballots and looking into baseless conspiracy theories suggesting there were problems with the election, which have grown popular with supporters of Trump.
Associated Press reporter Jonathan J. Cooper contributed.