The Arizona Senate filed a motion to dismiss a public records lawsuit relating to an independent full audit of ballots cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 election which was, however, rejected by a judge.
The watchdog group American Oversight filed the lawsuit and sought the records of communications between Senate officials and external vendors carrying on the audit, including a Florida-based cybersecurity firm called Cyber Ninjas, a private company employed by the Arizona Senate to supervise the audit of Arizona’s most populous county. It also sought the documents relating to the total cost of the audit, donors’ information, and its operations.
Judge Michael Kemp of the Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County, when presented with the argument by the defendant’s lawyer completely rejected it, writing in his seven-page ruling (pdf), “It is difficult to conceive that of a case with a more compelling public interest demanding public disclosure and public scrutiny,”.
“Nothing in the statute absolves Senate defendants’ responsibilities to keep and maintain records for authorities supported by public monies by merely retaining a third-party contractor who in turns hires sub-vendors,” Kemp added.
Kemp held that records on who is funding the audit should be released to the public. He also posited that the bulk of $150,000 the Arizona Senate is paying to the Cyber Ninjas for the job “appears to be far short of paying the full cost.’’
“The public does not know who is financing the remaining costs,’’ he wrote.
Kemp affirmed that the information relating to the audit information is covered under the state’s public records law, for Arizona Senate President Karen Fann has said that the audit is a public function.
However, Fann previously stated that the remaining costs of the audit are covered by some donors and contributions voluntarily.