Arizona’s top elections official Katie Hobbs announces run for governorship amid ongoing election audit

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In this Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs removes her face mask as she addresses the members of Arizona’s Electoral College prior to them casting their votes, in Phoenix.

  • Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, will run for governor in 2022, she announced Wednesday.
  • The top elections official in the state has gained national attention in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
  • Hobbs is an outspoken critic of the state’s ongoing Maricopa County election audit.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who rose to prominence defending the state’s election results following the 2020 vote, announced Wednesday that she’s launching a run for governor.

In an announcement video posted to Twitter, Hobbs trumpeted her role as a dependable leader, touting her past political successes and pledging to lead the state through recovery in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hobbs, a Democrat, first saw her national profile grow this fall during a series of cable news appearances amid Arizona’s ongoing vote count, which continued days beyond Election Day.

Then, this spring, Hobbs became an outspoken critic of the controversial election audit in Maricopa County, spearheaded by the state’s GOP-controlled Senate. The recount decision was made in spite of objections by the county’s Republican-controlled board of supervisors. The board said the election had already been audited more than once by credible firms.

Hobbs has frequently cited concerns over a lack of transparency and even taken legal action to ensure elections experts are on the ground during the process.

She’s criticized the contentious effort as a danger to democracy and has taken several steps to both stop and document the controversial recount. She’s sent sharply-worded letters to audit organizers about the recount; suggested the county replace its voting machines due to security concerns; and published a detailed summary of concerning witness statements from the recount.

“We did our jobs. They refuse to do theirs,” Hobbs said in her announcement video. “And there is a lot more work to be done. That is why I am running for governor.

Hobbs won the secretary of state position in a narrow victory in 2018 and her current term ends in January 2023. Arizona’s current governor, Republican Doug Ducey, is also term-limited and will be out in 2023.

Kimberly Yee, Arizona’s current state treasurer, and a Republican, has also announced a gubernatorial run, as has Kari Lake, a former anchor for the local Fox station.

Republicans in the politically-changing state’s legislature have responded to Hobbs’ relentless objections in kind. Last month, Republicans passed a measure to strip Hobbs of her election powers and transfer such duties to Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, but only through the end of 2023 – a seemingly deliberate attempt to punish Hobbs for her criticism.

Before serving as Secretary of State, Hobbs served as a member of Arizona’s Senate and House of Representatives.

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Observers of the Arizona audit say they were mocked over shirt color and witnessed software malfunctions, security violations, and personnel issues with the controversial GOP-led ballot count

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Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, Thursday, May 6, 2021 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The audit, ordered by the Arizona Senate, has the U.S. Department of Justice saying it is concerned about ballot security and potential voter intimidation arising from the unprecedented private recount of the 2020 presidential election results.

  • Observers of the ongoing Arizona election audit have alleged several security and equipment concerns.
  • Secretary of State Katie Hobbs shared a summary of incidents witnesses have noted in the past week.
  • Witnesses said they saw three non-residents rifling through thousands of ballots last week.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Observers of the ongoing audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Arizona have alleged several problematic incidents last week during the controversial recount.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs published a summary of “new and ongoing” incidents that were noted by observers during the audit beginning on May 24. Among the observations are security concerns, equipment concerns, communication concerns, and policy or press changes.

On Tuesday, she tweeted a link to the summary, saying: “Since the start of the Senate’s so-called audit, my office has had concerns over the lack of transparency and even took legal action to ensure we had election experts on the ground.”

Earlier this year, the state’s GOP-controlled Senate chose Cyber Ninjas, a private firm, to carry out another count of the 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County, where President Joe Biden beat Trump by more than 45,000 votes.

Since the start of the audit, Hobbes, who is a Democrat, has positioned herself as an outspoken critic of the recount, citing concerns over a lack of transparency and even taking legal action to ensure elections experts are on the ground during the process.

In the past week, those experts said they have reportedly witnessed security gates left open and unattended, confidential materials being left in the open, prohibited pens near the ballots multiple times, unauthorized cell phones on the counting floor, and confirmation that concealed firearms are allowed on the counting floor.

Observers noted Cyber Ninjas software malfunctions that forced the company to roll back an update in the middle of the day. Witnesses also allege Senate Liaison Ken Bennett confirmed that copies of the voting system data were sent to an unspecified lab in Montana, with no mention of what they intend to do with copies of the data or for how long they will keep the data.

Bennett did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

One observer alleges that Audit Co-chair Randy Pullen told one observer that the shirt he was required to wear on the floor “made him look like a transgender,” due to the pink color. Witnesses said audit organizers refer to them as “pinkies” or “pinkos,” implying that they are communists.

Pullen did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Throughout the week, witnesses said they noted “general confusion” among organizers and a lack of quality control practices in place meant to ensure data is entered correctly.

On May 29, witnesses said they saw at least three people who are not Maricopa County residents “rifling through” thousands of military and overseas ballots.

Cyber Ninjas has no previous election experience and is spearheaded by a Trump supporter who promoted false conspiracy claims last fall. The recount decision was made in spite of the county’s Republican-controlled board of supervisors objecting to it, saying the election had already been audited more than once by credible firms.

Cyber Ninjas did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Biden Secretary of State said the US is not looking to buy Greenland after Trump floated the possibility in 2019

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Antony Blinken speaks during his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of State before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed the US doesn’t want to buy Greenland.
  • Blinken’s confirmation came after Trump suggested purchasing the autonomous Danish territory in 2019.
  • Danish PM Mette Frederiksen called such discussions “absurd” at the time.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Thursday that the US is not pursuing the purchase of the Greenland after former President Donald Trump floated the possibility in 2019.

During a press conference in Greenland, Blinken said it was “correct” when a reporter asked if the US is not seeking to buy Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, and that his visit to the island was to strengthen diplomatic relations with “our Arctic partners, Greenland and Denmark.”

Foreign Minister Pele Broberg echoed the sentiment, saying Blinken’s visit is “not considered a real estate deal.”

“A real estate deal means land with nothing on it, nobody on it,” Broberg said. “Secretary Blinken has made it clear that he’s here for the people living in the Arctic, for the people living in Greenland.”

In 2019, Trump said he and one of his economic advisors had discussed the possibility of purchasing Greenland.

“Denmark essentially owns it. We’re very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world,” Trump said at the time. “So the concept came up and I said, ‘Certainly I’d be interested.'”

“Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that,” he continued, adding that the sale of the island is “essentially a large real estate deal.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at the time that it was an “absurd discussion,” saying that Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen “has made it clear that Greenland is not for sale, and the discussion stops there.”

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Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood is reportedly under investigation over whether he voted illegally in the November election

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Attorney Lin Wood, member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, speaks during a rally on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga.

  • Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood is reportedly under investigation over whether he voted illegally in 2020.
  • Wood pushed baseless claims of election fraud and had threatening posts removed from Parler.
  • In response to the investigation, Wood said he had been a resident of Georgia up until Monday.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Lin Wood, a conservative attorney and pro-Trump ally who litigated numerous failed attempts to overturn the 2020 election, is now under investigation by the state of Georgia over whether or not he was a legal voter in the very election he claimed was fraudulent, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Wood has been a frequent and vocal critic of the integrity of the 2020 election and sought to undermine President Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump, but not a single court of law found any of his claims to have merit. 

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has now launched an investigation to determine if Wood was actually a resident of Georgia and if he broke the law by casting his vote in the state, WSB-TV reported.

Officials from the office told the outlet that an email Wood sent to WSB-TV reporter Justin Gray prompted them to launch the investigation. In the email, Wood said he had moved to South Carolina and had been residing there for months.

“I have been domiciled in South Carolina for several months after purchasing property in the state in April,” the email said. “My decision to change my residency to South Carolina has nothing to do with the frivolous and politically-motivated actions of the State Bar of Georgia.”

The State Bar of Georgia said last month that it is investigating two complaints against the attorney and had requested that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Wood had previously posted a threat to former Vice President Mike Pence on Parler and has accused other officials of cheating Trump out of the presidency. Wood responded to the inquiry by refusing to take the requested mental health assessment and insisted he didn’t violate any professional code.

Following Wood’s email to Gray, state election officers are investigating whether his residence in South Carolina means he shouldn’t have been able to vote in Georgia.

“If a person removes to another state with the intention of making it such person’s residence, such person shall be considered to have lost such person’s residence in this state,” according to a section of Georgia code cited by investigators.

Insider reached out to Wood and the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office for comment on the investigation. 

In a response to the investigation, Wood sent Gray an email saying he had only changed his residency to South Carolina yesterday, on February 1.

“I have been a resident of the State of Georgia since 1955. I changed my residency to South Carolina yesterday,” Wood wrote. “This is pure harassment by the Georgia Secretary of State because I have revealed credible evidence of election fraud on the part of Brad Raffensperger.” 

Raffensperger is Georgia’s Secretary of State. In January, a conversation between Raffensperger and Trump was leaked, during which Trump urged the official to “find” 11,000 votes in order to deny Biden his victory.

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Senate confirms Antony Blinken as Biden’s secretary of state

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Antony Blinken speaks during his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of State before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as secretary of state with a 78-22 vote. 
  • Blinken is a veteran diplomat with a long working relationship with President Joe Biden. 
  • Blinken, along with Biden, has made repairing America’s alliances a top priority. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Senate voted 78-22 on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state, ushering in a new era of American diplomacy.

Though Blinken was confirmed in a bipartisan vote, he received the least support from Senate Republicans out of all President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees so far. With that said, Blinken still received more votes in favor of his confirmation than both secretaries of state under President Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson (56-43) and Mike Pompeo (57-42). The Senate has so far confirmed four of Biden’s Cabinet nominees

Blinken, who formerly served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, has a long history of working with Biden. When Biden was vice president, Blinken was his national security advisor. He also served as staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chairman. 

Biden’s decision to tap Blinken to be America’s top diplomat was applauded by members of the foreign policy community across the political spectrum.

“This is a good choice. Tony has the strong confidence of the president-elect and the knowledge and experience for the important work of rebuilding US diplomacy,” Matt Duss, a foreign policy advisor to the progressive Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, tweeted in November. 

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, in November said he was “delighted” to learn Biden had selected Blinken for the role. 

During his confirmation hearing, Blinken underscored the importance of American leadership in the world. Biden has made repairing US alliances a key competent of his foreign policy agenda as part of a broader effort to repair America’s global reputation post-Trump. 

“American leadership still matters. The reality is the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen: Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does, and then you have chaos,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

Blinken signaled that the Biden administration will focus heavily on countering Russia, Iran, and China on the global stage. He also said that the US will move to end support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, marking a major break from the policy of the Trump administration toward the kingdom. 

The incoming secretary of state is poised to take a drastically different approach to the job than his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, who frequently decried multilateralism and criticized international institutions like the United Nations. 

The Biden administration has already made big moves on the foreign policy front, with the president signing executive orders to return the US to the Paris climate accord and World Health Organization. Both Blinken and Biden have emphasized that tackling climate change will be a major priority in concert with rekindling key partnerships. 

“We can take on the existential threat posed by climate change. We can revitalize our core alliances, force multipliers of our influence around the world. Together, we are far better positioned to counter threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea, and to stand up for democracy and human rights,” Blinken said on January 19. “And in everything we do around the world, I believe that we can and we must ensure that our foreign policy is actually working to deliver for American working families, here at home.”

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