Arizona Secretary Of State Gets Stripped Of Her Duty After Criticizing Audit

Written by Carmine Sabia

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion




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After making herself a thorn in the side of those who are auditing the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County, Arizona, the secretary of state just got the hammer dropped on her.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who expressed “grave concerns” about the audit, was “stripped” of her ability to “defend election lawsuits” by Arizona’s House Appropriations Committee, which is led by Republicans, ABC 15 reported.

On Tuesday morning, the Arizona House Appropriations Committee stripped Secretary of State Katie Hobbs of her ability to defend election lawsuits. It gave the power exclusively to the Attorney General.

Later in the day, the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee passed the same changes. Now these proposed changes are part of the full budget proposal that will be voted on later this week.

“We are meddling with the constitution,” State Representative Randy Friese, (D) Tucson, said. Friese and other Democrats see the move as a response to Secretary of State Hobbs’ use of outside counsel to defend Arizona voters from lawsuits filed by the State Republican Party and others challenging Arizona’s election results. Hobbs also did not support a decision by the Attorney General to pursue a ballot harvesting case in federal court. Earlier this year Attorney General Mark Brnovich argued against the practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Republicans also removed Hobbs ability to oversee the Capital Museum because she angered them when she had a gay pride flag flying from the balcony in 2019.

On Thursday, Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sent a letter claiming the election machines that were audited by the Cyber Ninja team these past few weeks should never be used again.

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“This equipment was accessed by amateur, uncertified ‘auditors’ with zero transparency. I support election integrity, and therefore can’t support the continued usage of these machines,” she wrote.

Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward has had it with what she sees as the obstruction in the Maricopa County, Arizona election audit and now she is threatening action.

“There have to be consequences,” she said during an appearance on One America News. “There could be arrests of people who are refusing to comply.”

It’s the latest drama to encompass the audit of the 2.1 million ballots in the state’s largest county, which has featured false allegations votes were destroyed and conspiracy theories alleging the ballots were shredded and eaten by chickens, who were then killed to cover up the evidence.

Ward’s comments came after the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors for Maricopa County refused to attend a meeting Tuesday with GOP senators who had demanded the audit. The board called the audit was a ‘sham’ run by ‘grifters’ that cast doubts upon the democratic process. 

And it wasn’t the first time an arrest has been suggested.

In February, when the county was arguing against the audit in court, most Arizona Republican senators supported a resolution to hold the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt and arrest supervisors for failing to turn over access to voting records. The resolution failed to pass but showed the mindset of those elected officials who demanded the audit.

Her interview came on the same day that it was discovered that election data that was rumored to have been deleted was found.

The information that was alleged to have been deleted has been recovered, an auditor said.

At a hearing on Tuesday afternoon in the Senate, CyFIr founder Ben Cotton, a subcontractor on Senate President Karen Fann’s audit team, said that his team was able to recover data that the Senate’s election team had accused Maricopa County of deleting.

“I’ve been able to recover all of those deleted files, and I have access to that data,” he said at the hearing. “I have the information I need from the recovery efforts of the data.”

Maricopa County officials responded in a tweet after the hearing.

“Just want to underscore that AZ Senate’s @ArizonaAudit account accused Maricopa County of deleting files- which would be a crime- then a day after our technical letter explained they were just looking in the wrong place- all of a sudden ‘auditors’ have recovered the files,” it said.