By Terri Jo Neff
Twelve hours after announcing his plans to step down as the liaison for the Arizona Senate’s audit, Ken Bennett says he is back in the good graces of the audit team and will be provided full access so he can assist in review of any reports to the Senate.
Bennett told KFYI’s James T. Harris on Wednesday morning he had become “liaison in name only” and may not even be involved in the preparation of the final audit report into how Maricopa County handled the 2020 General Election because he was locked out of the audit premises by other team members at the directive of Senate President Karen Fann.
But by Wednesday evening, Bennett told colleagues that Fann had agreed to meet several demands to keep Bennett actively involved through the end of the audit. Details of the agreement are to be announced Thursday.
Bennett, a former Arizona Secretary of State, was chosen by Fann to act on her behalf with Cyber Ninjas, the company she contracted to conduct the audit. There have also been several subcontractors.
However, last week Fann became upset that Bennett released some unconfirmed audit data to an election expert, from whom it was released to the media. In addition to the lockout, Fann issued a statement Tuesday scolding Bennett for his actions even though he had publicly apologized several times.
Fann also noted in her statement that Bennett would continue his involvement in the audit which is now in the analysis phase leading up to preparation of final reports. Audit observers say those reports need to have Bennett’s blessing in order for the public to accept any of Cyber Ninjas’ findings.
Bennett, however, told Harris his continued involvement, particularly with any reports, was would not be feasible if he continued to be frozen out of the audit process. “I cannot put a rubber stamp on a product that I am being locked out of its development,” he said.
Fann and Bennett were reportedly finalizing the terms and conditions of Bennett’s continued participation with the audit on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan announced Wednesday that more than $5.7 million was donated toward the cost of the audit. The funds came from five groups, including one co-founded by OANN reporter Christina Bobb and another connected to Sidney Powell, who served earlier this year as one of former President Donald Trump’s attorneys.
According to Logan, $3.25 million was received from Florida-based The America Project. There was also nearly $977,000 from America’s Future, a non-profit organization chaired by Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, (USA Ret.), along with $605,000 from Bobb’s Voices and Votes.
Another $550,000 was received from Defending The Republic, whose board of directors include Powell, Flynn, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and others who support claims that former President Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election. And $280,000 is reported as coming from the combined Legal Defense Funds for the American Republic and the Election Integrity Funds for the American Republic.
Logan’s company was contracted earlier this year by Fann contracted for a total payment of $150,000. The contract did not preclude Cyber Ninjas or any of the subcontractors from seeking or accepting private funding toward the true cost of the audit, which has involved more than 1,500 workers and volunteers