Arizona Supreme Court denies state Senate's appeal to avoid releasing election audit records
The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an attempt by the state's Republican-led Senate to circumvent compliance with public filing requests for documents related to its review of the 2020 Maricopa County election.
The court declined to overturn lower court rulings confirming the Senate's responsibility under state law to provide requested records and order the handover of the documents to the left-wing surveillance group American Oversight. Tuesday's ruling also overturned an August 24 Supreme Court suspension suspending enforcement of the order that required the records to be released.
American Oversight sued the state Senate and Republican Senate President Karen Fann in May for access to communications and other records between the Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the prime contractor overseeing the controversial investigation.
ARIZONA ELECTIONS AUDIT TEAM PRESENTS DRAFT REPORT TO THE SENATE NEXT WEEK
Senate attorneys argued that such documents containing information about donors who funded the trial are not subject to disclosure requirements because Cyber Ninjas, a private company, has them, as well as other subcontractors.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp dismissed the Senate's arguments and ordered him on Aug. 3 to produce a record of his trial.
Fann said at the time that the Senate “has already met the legal requirements for [records] between the government and the companies we do business with,” adding, “We cannot produce documents that we cannot have ever owned. "
The Senate appealed against Kemp's decision.
A three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals later unanimously dismissed the Senate appeal and ordered the files to be released.
"It is undisputed that the audit is being conducted with public funds and that cyber ninjas and their negotiators are agents of the Senate," the court wrote. "In this case, the Senate has not enforced any exception that, if properly recognized, would shield itself from the obligation to inform the public about activities in connection with the examination."
Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, praised Tuesday's ruling and said Arizonans could look forward to much-needed transparency.
“The Arizona Senate's legal maneuvers to hide these records from the public match the enormity of their so-called scrutiny. That ends today, "Evers said in a statement.
The Washington Examiner asked Fann for comment.
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The court's order comes days after news that, after weeks of delays, the review team expects to submit a full draft report on its findings to the Senate this week.
State and local officials from both parties have been defending Maricopa County for months against allegations by former President Donald Trump and sympathetic Republicans that the election results were fraudulent. In August, Republican Maricopa overseer Jack Sellers called the review an "adventure in never-never-the-country," while Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs insisted it was a "political stunt."
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Tags: news, arizona, state legislatures, 2020 elections, state courts
Original Author: Jeremy Beaman
Original Location: The Arizona Supreme Court dismissed the state Senate appeal to avoid releasing election scrutiny papers
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