Letters Outline Objections To DOJ Comments About Senate Audit

By Terri Jo Neff

Four members of the U.S. Congress -including two from Arizona- sent a letter this week to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) criticizing one of its deputies for “unnecessarily” weighing in on the Arizona State Senate’s ongoing audit of Maricopa County’s election process.

Representatives Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, both Republicans from Arizona, and Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) call a May 5 letter from DOJ attorney Pamela Karlan to Senate President Karen Fann “an attempt at intimidation, with the goal of convoluting this important audit.”

Fann is one of two state senators who signed a subpoena in January which led to Maricopa County officials being required to turn over election department records, hundreds of voting machines, and the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast by Maricopa County voters in the 2020 General Election. Karlan’s letter suggested either the Senate or the auditors may be in noncompliance with federal law, and that the elections records and the ballots “are at risk of damage or loss.”

According to Biggs, Gaetz, Gosar, and Taylor Greene, many of Karlan’s comments were previously expressed by what the four representatives call “three left-leaning organizations,” suggesting the DOJ is “more concerns with your political fellow-travelers than election integrity.”  The May 17 letter signed by the four representatives also told Karlan they are “confident in the integrity” of the ongoing audit which is set to run through the end of June.

“In a constitutional republic, the most important thing you can do is make sure the integrity of our election system is protected, free, transparent, and open,” their letter states.

That letter to Fann is not the first received by the senate president in connection to Karlan’s concerns about the audit. On May 7, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) sent a letter to Fann urging her to push back on Karlan’s concerns, which PILF President J. Christian Adams and PILF Litigation Counsel Maureen Riordan characterize as threats.

Adams and Riordan told Fann that Karlan “is doing the bidding of, and acting as a surrogate for, the Democratic Party, not as an objective law enforcement official and representative of the U.S. Department of Justice.”  They added that Karlan “is engaging in a partisan abuse of power well outside the traditions of the Department as well as the delegation of power under federal statutes and the controlling legal authority governing those statutes.”

PIFL, a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm, urged the Senate President to resist responding to Karlan’s “inappropriate and unjustified letter” and offered to share additional insights into the DOJ’s alleged politically motivated effort if Fann is interested. As of press time Fann had not replied to the PIFL letter, according to the group’s spokesperson.