Start your day with National Memo Newsletter
The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning
Republicans in the Arizona state Senate are officially off the hook for the $2.8 million needed to replace hundreds of voting machines ruined during the GOP-led, scandal-ridden "audit" of the 2020 election results in the state, the Arizona Republic reported.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in August to force GOP state senators — who had signed an agreement saying that they would be responsible for any costs incurred from their "forensic audit" of the state's 2020 election — to pay the millions for the machines.
The county had determined that the machines were no longer usable after audit workers compromised the tabulators and left them vulnerable to security risks.
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel informed the GOP senators in August:
The County incurred costs as a result of its election equipment being compromised while in the control of the Senate. Specifically, and as explained more fully below, the Senate allowed unqualified persons to handle, examine, and manipulate the County's election equipment in ways that compromised it and rendered it unfit to be used in future elections. As a result, the County has had to replace the subpoenaed election equipment at a cost to the County of $2,833,220.00. These costs are directly recoverable from the Senate pursuant to the Covenant of Indemnification.
But the Arizona Republic reports that Maricopa County reached a deal on Friday that would let the GOP lawmakers off the hook for the millions in damages. As part of the deal, Maricopa County will pay the costs of replacing the voting machines from its taxpayer-funded budget — despite the Senate's indemnification agreement that promised taxpayers wouldn't foot the bill for any costs stemming from the audit effort.
In return for dropping the costs, Arizona's Republican attorney general backed off his own threat to withhold $700 million in annual state funding to the county — or nearly half of its operating budget — because Maricopa County had not complied with one of numerous subpoena demands. Republicans in the Arizona Senate had subpoenaed routers from the county as part of their audit, but the county refused to turn them over, saying it could pose a security risk, according to the Arizona Republic's report.
Now, despite dropping its demand that the Senate pay for the ruined voting machines, Maricopa County will still have to answer questions about the routers, the Arizona Republic reported. But the Senate agreed to have the review done by former Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) rather than by Cyber Ninjas, the firm that conducted the audit and is run by an avid Donald Trump supporter who has promoted lies about election fraud.
Republican Senate President Karen Fann called the compromise a "HUGE win" for the Senate.
"Maricopa settlement gives us all the data needed to complete the review of the routers & splunk log to the most comprehensive election audit in history," Fann tweeted. "We got everything we need and more. Maricopa County goes home with its tail between its legs."
She told the Associated Press that the compromise was "a victory for election integrity and the Arizona taxpayer."
The GOP Senate has yet to release a report of its findings from the audit, which has been plagued by scandal and incompetence. Cyber Ninjas now says the report should be out Friday, blaming the delay on the fact that a number of its staff contracted serious cases of COVID-19.
Election experts said auditors did not follow proper procedure in counting the more than 2 million ballots it was reviewing and accused Cyber Ninjas and the GOP-led Senate of trying to back up Trump's voter fraud lies instead of accurately recounting the vote.
Even some GOP lawmakers in the state started to turn against the audit, saying it made Republicans look like "idiots." Polling also showed the audit is unpopular with voters and poses an electoral risk for the GOP in the 2022 midterm elections.
Prior to this audit, multiple previous recounts had found that there were no irregularities in the results and that President Joe Biden had won the state.
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who campaigned for Trump and for former Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), wrote a letter in August chastising his own party for the audit, saying, "I'm embarrassed listening to my party concoct the most outlandish theories (Chinese ballots!) to avoid accepting the reality: We lost the top two races in Arizona."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
- Maricopa GOP Official Scorches Party's 'Disgusting' Role In Arizona ... ›
- Tensions Flare Among Arizona Republicans Over Discredited ... ›
- Cyber Ninjas Whine As Arizona 'Audit' Is Proved Utterly Pointless ... ›
- New Poll: Arizona Voters Reject 2020 Election 'Audit' - National Memo ›
- Surprise! Trump Lost Arizona Because So Many GOP Voters ... ›
- Trumpist Official In Colorado Suspected Of Voting Machine ... ›
- Stop Calling The Arizona Recount Charade An 'Audit' - National Memo ›
- Insiders Say Arizona 'Audit' Team Knows The Data Proves Biden ... ›
- Arizona Audit Just Cost County Taxpayers An Extra $6 Million ... ›
In December 2019, when then-President Donald Trump was facing his first of two impeachments, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched the nonprofit Right Direction America to defend him. The 2022 campaign of far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a hardcore Trumpista, donated $100,000 to the nonprofit earlier this year during Trump's second impeachment — and journalist Roger Sollenberger, in an article published by the Daily Beast, stresses that the donation raises some questions.
"While that donation may not sound out of the ordinary, it stands out for a number of reasons," Sollenberger reports. "For one, the size of the donation is curious: It's double the amount of Gaetz's second-largest donation ever, and it's $22,000 more than the campaign's combined gifts to close ally Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). For another, the nonprofit appears to have done nothing now for more than a year. And even odder is the Gaetz campaign's own explanation — which experts say raises questions of legality."
According to Sollenberger, the Gaetz campaign's stated reason for donating to Right Direction America differs from the mission of Christie's nonprofit.
"Christie billed the group as a vehicle to drum up public support for Trump during his first impeachment trial in the Senate," Sollenberger explains. "But that's not why the Gaetz campaign says it donated to Right Direction America. A campaign spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the organization supports former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who two weeks prior to the Gaetz donation, had announced her 2022 campaign for governor of Arkansas."
Sollenberger notes that "there's no public record of RDA supporting Sanders for governor, and there isn't activity of any kind since August 2020."
"According to the Federal Election Commission's database, RDA has received money from no political group other than the Gaetz campaign," Sollenberger reports. "For someone who's so strongly backing Sanders that he would make a $100,000 donation to a group purportedly in support of her, there's strangely no record of any direct donations to the Sanders campaign from the Gaetz campaign, nor from the beleaguered congressman himself — unlike with DeSantis. The campaign did not reply when presented with that information."
Robert Maguire, director of research for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, discussed Right Direction America with the Beast and said that public information "does raise the question of how legit this nonprofit organization is."
Maguire told the Beast, "When you see a webpage like that, that has nothing — no press clips, no projects, no events, no contact information, no address, nothing to identify it as a group with an office where people go to work, or produce actual work — the first question is: What do they exist to do? How are they validating their nonprofit status?"
- The 9 Most Humiliating Moments of Chris Christie's Pro-Trump ... ›
- This $100,000 Donation by Matt Gaetz Raises All the Eyebrows ›
- Matt Gaetz: Trump Endorsed Campaign Versus Chris Christie, Nikki ... ›
- Chris Christie forms pro-Trump advocacy group Right Direction ... ›
- PAC Profile: RGA Right Direction • OpenSecrets ›