Mayes’ Document Dump Could End Speculation About 2020 General Election

February 23, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

On Wednesday, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes sidelined Governor Katie Hobbs from the headlines with the release of investigative documents related to the 2020 election – a process started by former Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Mayes unveiled three sets of documents: the March 8, 2022 Previously Unreleased Interim Findings Summary, the April 1, 2022 Draft of Interim Report with edits and suggestions made by AAGO agents, and the September 19, 2022 Previously Unreleased Investigative Summary. The Washington Post claimed the exclusive story just after 11am EST.

In a statement that accompanied the release of the documents, Attorney General Mayes said, “The results of this exhaustive and extensive investigation show what we have suspect for over two years – the 2020 election in Arizona was conducted fairly and accurately by elections officials. The ten thousand plus hours spent diligently investigating every conspiracy theory under the sun distracted this office from its core mission of protecting the people of Arizona from real crime and fraud.”

When asked by AZ Free News about the information revealed by his successor, Brnovich provided the following response: “I am proud of the work our office did with the election integrity unit that was created by the Arizona Legislature. While subjected to severe criticism from all sides of the political spectrum during the course of our investigations, we did our due diligence to run all complaints to ground. Where we were able to debunk rumors and conspiracies, we did so. Nevertheless, we also identified areas we believe the legislature and county officials should address to ensure confidence in future elections.”

The document dump from Mayes could close the book on a long chapter in Arizona political history – though questions and varying perspectives remain from thousands of citizens about the state of elections in the Grand Canyon State. The saga began with the Arizona Senate’s audit of the 2020 Maricopa County General Election, which lasted several months. On September 24, 2021, Attorney General Brnovich acknowledged that he was in receipt of the Arizona Senate’s draft report regarding the 2020 Election Audit in Maricopa County, stating, “I will take all necessary actions that are supported by the evidence and where I have legal authority.”

From the end of the November 2020 General Election to the transmission of the draft report to the Attorney General’s Office and through the end of his term in office – Brnovich could not please most Republicans or Democrats on the inflamed issue of election integrity – despite his 2021 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case Brnovich v. DNC. Former President Donald Trump took repeated aims at Brnovich in attempts to find issues, fraud, or wrongdoing with the 2020 General Election in Maricopa County. Even with immense pressure from countless concerned citizens, elected officials, and candidates for office, though, Brnovich did not take any legal action in response to the Cyber Ninja’s findings contained in the audit report.

Brnovich did, however, deliver an interim report to former-Senate President Karen Fann on April 6, 2022, focusing on what his “office can presently share and the current status” of the

review. In the letter to President Fann, Attorney General Brnovich wrote that the office had “reached the conclusion that the 2020 election in Maricopa County revealed serious vulnerabilities that must be addressed.” Those issues (or vulnerabilities) included “document preservation and production,” “early voting signature verification,” “early ballot drop boxes,” and the “use of private grant monies.”

The interim report also contained several recommendations for the state legislature and an accounting of previous or ongoing actions from Brnovich’s team to “defend election integrity” in Arizona.

The investigation into the Senate’s audit findings was separate from the higher-than-usual number of investigations that the Attorney General’s Election Integrity Unit (EIU) undertook into the 2020 election cycle. According to a document on “prosecutions related to voting or elections since 2010,” approximately half of the listed cases appear to be from 2020.

The Attorney General’s Office, under Brnovich’s direction, had already started to publish findings of its investigation in the months leading up to the transfer of power to Mayes. On August 1, 2022, Brnovich sent another letter to President Fann, alerting legislators that his office had “concluded our criminal investigation related to deceased voter allegations,” finding that “only one of the 282 individuals on the list was deceased at the time of the (2020) election.”

Legislative Democrats took the disclosure of investigative documents to counter their Republican colleagues’ attempts to enhance election integrity protections for future elections. The Arizona Senate Democrats Caucus tweeted, “Maybe we should stop hearing all those #BIGLIE bills in the #AZSenateElections committee now?”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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