- Te official acting as liaison between the Arizona audit and lawmakers, resigned Wednesday.
- Ken Bennett complained he’d been denied access to data, but later reversed his decision to quit.
- The audit has been beset by accusations that it is being conducted in a shambolic way.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A Republican official serving as a liaison between the Arizona state senate and the private contractor conducting a election recount on its behalf resigned on Wednesday, but changed his mind soon after.
Ken Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state, told a conservative radio host Wednesday that Cyber Ninjas, the contractor conducting the review, had denied him access to the venue where the recount was taking place.
The audit is going over votes from Marciopa County, which Joe Biden won in the 2020 presidential election, wresting Arizona from Donald Trump and contributing to his election victory.
Bennett was barred from the site last Friday after sharing part of the auditors’ vote tally with independent election experts, reported the Arizona Republic.
The outlet said it correlated with the vote recorded by election officials in the county last November, appearing to disprove the claims of mass election fraud pushed Donald Trump and his allies.
hose claims have also been rejected several other ways, including by the court system.
Two independent audits conducted last year in Maricopa Coiunty found the vote tally was accurate.
-Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) July 28, 2021
“I’ve always tried to act as a man of integrity and honesty and I’m sure I don’t accomplish that all the time, but I cannot put a rubber stamp on a product I am being locked out of its development,” Bennett told radio host James Harris Wednesday.
“I’m going to step down today. I’ll issue a statement later for the press later this morning.”
But when contacted by NBC News on later, Bennett said that after talking with Senate President Karen Fann, also a Republican, he had decided not to resign after all.
“It will include me continuing as Senate Liaison,” he said in the message. He did not provide the outlet with a reason for changing his mind.
Fann in a statement Thursday quoted Bennett apologizing for publicizing data from the audit.
She shared a statement attributed to him, which said: “I shared some box counts of how many ballots were in each box, and that got leaked to the press and I apologized to Senate President Fann. I had promised that information would not be leaked to the press, but it indirectly got done, so that’s how I got barred from the audit.”
The audit has been beset by delays and controversy since it was launched in April by the Republican-controlled state senate.
Maricopa County election officials and observers from the office of the Arizona secretary of state have decried the audit as shambolic, and seemingly based on trying to prove partisan conspiracy theories about mass fraud in last year’s election.
An Republican state senator who had originally backed the audit on Thursday withdrew her support, also expressing concerns about the transparency of the process.
Former President Donald Trump has seized on the audit as part of his bid to delegitimize President Joe Biden’s election win last year, calling on legislatures in other states where he lost to conduct similar audits.
The process of examining ballots in the audit has been concluded, Cyber Ninjas said this week, and contractors are now drawing up a report based on their findings.