- Maricopa County leaders signaled that a lawsuit may be possible following the 2020 election audit.
- The county attorney requested that Senate leaders and audit vendors retain all documents and communications.
- The move comes after the audit’s Twitter falsely claimed election databases had been deleted.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s office sent Arizona Senate leaders and vendors of the GOP’s controversial “audit” of the 2020 election a “hold” letter Friday evening, instructing them to retain all documents and audit communications.
The request is the first official sign that Maricopa County leaders are considering post-audit legal action.
-Matt Galka Fox 10 (@MattGalkaFox10) May 21, 2021
The letter comes days after the audit’s Twitter account claimed election databases had been deleted and evidence spoiled. Though election officials later refuted the accusation, showing that the data had been found, former President Donald Trump jumped on the claim.
Maricopa County officials fired back against the baseless accusations in a Tuesday tweet and first raised the possibility of legal action in a Monday statement.
“It is clear the Arizona Senate and its contractors do not intend to retract false allegations defaming the County and its employees,” Maricopa County Chairman Jack Sellers told KTAR News.
“For that reason, Maricopa County is formally requesting Senate President Fann, Senator Petersen, Senate liaison Ken Bennett and contractors involved in the ‘audit’ preserve documents and evidence as they may be subject to future legal claims,” he said.
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel’s four-page Friday letter to Fann officially followed through on the county’s previous threat.
“Because of the wrongful accusations that the County destroyed evidence, the County or its elected officers may now be subject to, or have, legal claims,” Adel’s letter said. “Likewise, we have reason to believe this audit is not being done in accordance with Arizona law.”
According to KPNX reporter Brahm Resnik, senate audit liason Ken Bennett responsed to the letter, saying: “They’re not asking me to do anything that I wouldn’t have done anyway. Nothing to hide so nothing to hold.”
Neither Fann, nor Cyber Ninjas immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment.
The demand also comes just one day after Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said any voting machines that have come into the hands of people carrying out the Republican-led “audit” are no longer safe to be used in future elections.
In a Thursday letter to Maricopa County officials, Hobbs said she has “grave concerns regarding the security and integrity of these machines,” suggesting that the chain of custody had been “compromised.”
Earlier this year, the state’s GOP-controlled Senate chose Cyber Ninjas, a private firm, to carry out another count of ballots in Maricopa County, where President Joe Biden beat Trump by more than 45,000 votes.
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.
The audit kicked off on April 23 and went on hiatus this week due to previously scheduled graduation ceremonies at the stadium where the counting is being held. According to KTAR News, only about 500,000 of the 2.1 million ballots had been hand-counted as of Friday.