Arizona Republicans have been leading an effort to audit the results of November’s presidential election — but they suffered a setback in court this week.
According to reports, a judge ruled against a motion brought by the state Senate that hoped to keep records related to the ongoing audit private.
“So that the public may monitor”
Left-leaning watchdog group American Oversight filed a lawsuit with the intention of forcing the GOP lawmakers to release such records to the public.
In response, the Arizona Senate filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the argument that the requested documentation was not subject to the state’s public record laws since they belong to a private company, Florida-based Cyber Ninjas.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp disagreed with that argument, however, and ruled against the motion on Thursday.
In his decision, Kemp wrote: “The court completely rejects Senate defendants’ argument that since (Cyber Ninjas) and the subvendors are not ‘public bodies’ they are exempt from the (public records law). The core purpose of the public records law is to allow public access to official records and other government information so that the public may monitor the performance of government officials and their employees.”
Accordingly, the judge ruled that “any and all” records with a “substantial nexus” to the election audit must be made public.
Critics take aim at auditors’ methods
The Maricopa County audit has faced widespread criticism in recent months, including claims that Cyber Ninjas is a partisan group in line with former President Donald Trump’s claims that voter fraud and irregularities were a major factor in the election.
President Joe Biden won Arizona by about 10,000 votes, thanks in large part to a 45,000-vote advantage in the state’s largest county.
Amid questions by Trump and others regarding the election’s legitimacy, supporters of the audit hope that it will settle the controversy once and for all. American Oversight, on the other hand, wants to expose all the inner workings of the election review, possibly with the goal of undermining its conclusions.
Critics of the audit specifically want to know how it is being funded. The Arizona Senate revealed that it funded $150,000 of the total cost and additional funding is said to have come from private donors.
It is still unclear when the audit will be completed, with Cyber Ninjas recently announcing that it needs more time to finalize its report.