Arizona election report delayed; audit leaders have COVID-19
PHOENIX —The delivery of a report on the 2020 vote count to Arizona state Senate Republicans was delayed yet again Monday after the Donald Trump supporter hired to lead the effort and several others involved contracted COVID-19 “and are quite sick,” the Senate GOP leader said.
Republican Senate President Karen Fann said she still expects to receive a portion of the report Monday. She did not give a date for delivery of the full draft.
It’s the latest delay for the unprecedented partisan review, which has so far taken more than double the 60 days it was originally supposed to take.
The report was commissioned by Senate Republicans and funded mostly by Trump allies promoting his unsupported election fraud narrative. It will not immediately be made public. Rather, two senior Republican senators will review it along with their lawyers and advisers to decide whether the findings are supported by evidence.
Fann said anything lacking sufficient backing will be removed.
“We want to see their proof, their documentation, everything to make sure that the report that goes out is fully accurate,” he said.
Cyber Ninjas, the small cybersecurity consultant with no election experience that Fann hired to run the review, was originally supposed to deliver its findings in May but has pushed back the timeline several times.
Election experts have been highly critical of the review, which Fann launched late last year as Trump and his allies hunted unsuccessfully for reasons to block the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6.
Election experts say Cyber Ninjas and its subcontracts are biased and incompetent, and they’re using bizarre, ever-changing procedures that could not produce reliable results. Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan has spread false conspiracy theories about the election, and his review has been funded almost entirely by Trump allies active in the “stop the steal” movement.
“Real audits, legitimate audits are done under a time frame,” Jennifer Morrell, an expert in post-election auditing and a consultant to elections officials, said Monday. “There is a defined start time and stop time. They’re done publicly.”
None of that is the case for the Maricopa County review, Morrell said.
Fann released few details about the COVID-19 outbreak among the team leading her review but indicated the symptoms are not mild.
“The team expected to have the full draft ready for the Senate today, but unfortunately Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quite sick,” she said in a statement.
A spokesman for Logan did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
Fann said she will meet Wednesday to review the initial portions of the Cyber Ninjas report along with Republican Sen. Warren Petersen, the Judiciary Committee chairman; Ken Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state who was Fann’s liaison to the auditors before being locked out; and Randy Pullen, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman who also was a liaison. Four lawyers also will be involved, she said.
The team will meet again when the rest of the report is ready, she said, and the findings will be publicly presented to the Judiciary Committee, which includes Republicans and Democrats.
Meanwhile, Democratic members of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee again demanded Logan turn over a wide range of documents related to the audit. An attorney for Logan, Jack Wilenchick, sent 336 pages of documents, much of which had been publicly released. Most of the committee’s demands were overbroad or covered by attorney-client and legislative privilege, Wilenchik wrote on Aug. 9.
“If your company, which purports to be acting in a lawful manner pursuing the public interest, continues to obstruct the Committee’s investigation, the Committee will be forced to consider other steps to obtain compliance,” U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York and Jamie Raskin of Maryland wrote to Logan on Monday.