Senate President Karen Fann was confronted by reporter Kyung Lah from CNN in the Senate parking lot on Wednesday about the legitimacy of the ongoing forensic audit of the 2020 Election. The anchor for CNN introduced the spot, by saying "This audit 'air quotes' is being driven by the Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican." The reporter, Lah, questioned the legitimacy of the audit because the cameras monitoring the audit are "controlled by OANN" and isn't a "credible" news outlet. Many in mainstream media call allegations of election fraud in the 2020 election "The Big Lie," refusing to believe that Americans have a right to investigate it in any way.
Lah said that the audit was being conducted to "disprove conspiracies"—to which Fann answered, "If [we] have to yes, why wouldn't we. If somebody says something is out there, I would love to be able to say, 'That's not true, guys.'" Lah responded by questioning whether this audit was just "giving rise to these conspiracy theories."
When Fann enumerated several possible, problematic issues associated with the 2020 election such as chain of custody issues, dead people who may have voted, or ballots filled out by individuals other than the actual voter—Lah's reply was, "I can say that what the data shows us was that there was no widespread fraud...that the data has shown overwhelmingly that this was the most secure election in American history."
After a week's hiatus because of previously scheduled graduation ceremonies in the colosseum, to coin a phrase often used by Rep. Mark Finchem, who is now running for Secretary of State, "America's Audit" continues. Randy Pullen, a former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, has replaced Ken Bennett to handle media requests for the audit team. He told The Hill that, with the resumption of the audit, there "were more volunteers on Monday than on previous days."
Secretary of State Hobbs continues to raise contentious questions about the audit. Her latest concern is over the way the audit materials were stored during the week-long pause in the 100-degree heat.
“Where the ballots were being stored, it was not a facility that was suitable for storage because everything was exposed to heat and also humidity because of the method of cooling in the building,” Hobbs said in an interview Monday, as auditors resumed their process. “Any time you’re doing any process like this, the idea of having to start and stop, that interruption, we were already concerned that there were a lot of procedures that were changing and errors that were happening, and I think this increases the chance for those errors.”
Reportedly, on May 25, Hobbs was "'stripped' of her ability to defend election lawsuits by the state’s Republican-led House Appropriations Committee and transferred to Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) through the end of the 2023 fiscal year—a move that Democrats in the state have called "highly political." The Appropriations Committee also took away Hobbs’ oversight of the Capitol Museum because she flew a Gay Pride flag from the balcony of the Capitol, according to reporting by ABC15.
Per reporting by the Hill, “The reason we had them in the trailers was because they had really good air conditioning in there,” Pullen said. “It’s water-cooled air conditioning, so that puts a little more humidity in the air than normal. But it wasn’t a lot of humidity, we were checking it.”
There is also a new ballot counting team. Apparently, the contract for Wake Technology Solutions Inc. expired on May 14, and StratTech Solutions of Scottsdale are now leading the recount. According to AP news, StratTech has been working on the audit "since the beginning," information that had not been previously disclosed. The word on Telegram's Arizona Informer Chat, a pretty reliable on the ground source for all things audit, is that StratTech "has more capacity to process more ballots." Many in the media are pushing a theory that the change in vendor was not planned by saying they "dropped out."
Arizona Informer Channel/Telegram
Christina Bobb of OAN has helped create a 501(c)(4) called Voices and Votes to raise money to fund the audit. According to reporting by 12News in Arizona, she raised $150,000 in April and said she wants to raise another $150,000. The Arizona local news station also reported taxpayers are paying the lead firm, CyberNinjas, $150,000 to conduct the audit. The rental of the colosseum is about $1000 a day.
Former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne has also set out to raise money with his Fund the Audit website. His website posts a fundraising goal of $2.8 million for the Maricopa audit alone. He also created a website called the America Project that will, in part, fund audits in other states and whose mission is "to spark a new American Renaissance."
The America Project/Patrick Byrne
On May 21, a letter was sent by Maricopa County Allister Adel to Fann demanding preservation of "all documents related to your 'audit', including any and all communications between you and any other member of the Senate or their staffs, and also any communications between you and your agents, including, but not limited to, Ken Bennett, Cyber Ninjas, CyFir, Wake TSI, and those firms’ various owners, officers, employees, agents, subcontractors, or volunteers that they utilized in the conduct or furtherance of the 'audit' you and they are conducting."
A statement by Maricopa Board of Supervisors Chair Jack Sellers was released the same day.
Arizona State Senator Sonny Borelli stated in an interview in mid-May on Hub Radio Phoenix that if there is malfeasance found due to the lack of cooperation by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BoS) because of their alleged withholding of routers related to the audit or any other court-ordered cooperation, no one on the BoS will be arrested. He explained that the Senate "has very limited authority" to hold them accountable. Borelli also stated that the "results of this audit will be made public."
In other Arizona election integrity news, two Republicans, Michelle Udall of Mesa and Joel John of Buckeye, joined all 29 Democrats in defeating SB1713 Wednesday, a bill that "would have required absentee ballots to list a voter's birthday, plus either the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, a state-issued identification number or a voter registration number." Some are saying "the only purpose of the bill is to make it harder for eligible voters to vote."