The Maricopa County Recorder isn’t just dedicated to elections — he’s dedicated to commemorative literature. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer bought multiple copies, or “a box,” of a book satirizing the Arizona Senate’s 2020 election audit, “Goodnight Audit,” a parody of the classic children’s book, “Goodnight Moon.”
“Goodnight Audit” author Trevor Nelson, a parent activist and marketing manager, shared Richer’s post.
Nelson’s tweet from early last May served as inspiration for the cover art of the book. The post played on the name of Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott), pointing out a fan left on in the abandoned room.
The original inspiration for Nelson’s post came from Garrett Archer, ABC15 Data Analyst and former Arizona Secretary of State Senior Elections Analyst, who pointed out that the auditors left a fan running on site after they’d left for the day.
Several weeks later, Nelson launched a Twitter account to help fundraise for the parody book, @goodnightaudit. “Good Night Fan” was to be the book’s original title.
Cyber Ninjas will be a defendant in an ongoing case to access all records related to the Arizona Senate audit of the 2020 election, according to a court ruling last Wednesday. CEO Doug Logan was called to testify shortly after the ruling; his deposition is scheduled to take place January 5.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp asserted that Cyber Ninjas records were a matter of public record and characterized the company as an agent of the Arizona Senate. The plaintiff, American Oversight, had claimed that adequate relief wasn’t possible without adding Cyber Ninjas as a defendant because the company hadn’t turned over records requested.
“Cyber Ninjas possesses certain public records that the Senate Defendants are statutorily obligated to maintain and that the Senate Defendants have been ordered to produce in this matter. The Senate Defendants have made demand on Cyber Ninjas for those public records, but Cyber Ninjas has failed to provide them,” stated American Oversight. “In addition, Cyber Ninjas is properly joined because it is the custodian of certain public records, as was recently held in Cyber Ninjas, Inc. v. Hannah […] ‘Cyber Ninjas was properly joined as a necessary party in PNI’s special action because . . . as an agent of the Senate, it is alleged to be the sole custodian of records pertaining to the audit that are subject to disclosure under the PRL. In other words, joinder of Cyber Ninjas is necessary only because the Senate does not have the public records that are in Cyber Ninjas’ custody.’”
Logan requested to be added onto the case as an amicus party only, which Kemp denied.
American Oversight is an investigative and litigational organization that files open records requests. They first sued the Arizona Senate in May after not receiving their requested records on the election audit.
The latest court developments in American Oversight v. Karen came days after Cyber Ninjas presented additional findings on purported election integrity issues to Pima County. Cyber Ninjas was joined in their presentation by secretary of state candidate and State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley).
Finchem read aloud a letter claimed to be from an anonymous Democrat whistleblower. The unidentified individual alleged that fellow Democrats added 35,000 votes to President Joe Biden’s totals in Pima County. The allegation described a secret meeting with the Pima County Democratic Party to embed the votes across the county, detailing spreadsheet plans that would avoid any audit suspicion by keeping fraudulent votes in groups of 1,000 and total votes below the entire voting population.
The Pima County Democratic Party derided the claims as lies and part of a grifting scheme.
Election night reports that Biden won Pima County by nearly ten points: 58.6 to former President Donald Trump’s 39.9 percent.
The current secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, has the complete opposite perspective of Finchem. In addition to dismissing Cyber Ninja’s claims outright — usually calling their audit work a “#fraudit” on Twitter — Hobbs proposed a slew of progressive election reforms in a letter submitted to the state legislature last week.
Maricopa County officials admitted that they deleted election files from equipment after purportedly archiving them prior to fulfilling the Arizona Senate’s subpoena for that equipment. Chairman Jack Sellers and Vice Chairman Bill Gates made this admission during the House Oversight Committee hearing on the Cyber Ninjas-led audit on Thursday. The supervisors’ main defense for deleting the records had to do with freeing space for future election files – but Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) pointed out that files from prior elections were on the equipment obtained by the subpoena.
Biggs’ line of questioning prompted the admission from Gates and Sellers. He first asked the Arizona Senate’s liaison to the election audit, Ken Bennett, if it was standard practice to delete files off a server after an election. Bennett said he “hoped not.” Gates initially attempted to characterize the deletion as mere maintenance.
“I would say that it is appropriate to maintain files, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Gates. “The deleted files had been discussed. They were archived.”
When Biggs asked Gates to clarify if those “maintain[ed]” files were deleted off servers after the election, Sellers nodded and added that the files were “archived.” Biggs then asked whether the Arizona Senate was given the archives as part of the subpoena.
“When you released these servers and this information to the auditors to begin with, they didn’t have access to those archives at first – is that fair to say?” asked Biggs.
“They did not subpoena those, that’s correct,” responded Gates.
Gates’ response prompted laughter from Biggs.
“Okay, so – you didn’t feel obligated to turn [the archives] over then, to them?” asked Biggs.
“We responded to the subpoena,” repeated Gates.
At that point, Bennett stated that it was “laughable” that the county essentially created a loophole in the subpoena by archiving files from the materials explicitly subpoenaed.
“I find it frankly laughable to suggest that a county in response to a subpoena could say ‘We will delete files from the hard drives and materials that we give to the auditors because we have those files archived on data that we did not give to the auditors when the subpoena said give all those records to the election,’” responded Bennett.
Maricopa County’s Twitter account stated that deleting files that have been archived is a standard practice after all elections. Biggs asked Gates to confirm this. Neither Gates or Sellers said they could confirm immediately.
“I just know that because there is limited space on these servers, when you have to run that election, you have to make room for the additional election data,” said Sellers. “I do think it’s important [to note] that our recorder will be answering every question in a timely fashion.”
“That’s the same recorder that campaigned that [previous county recorder] Adrian Fontes was incompetent and called him a criminal, and he’s the guy that was running the 2020 election – and you actually hired someone to oversee Mr. Fontes. Because you guys didn’t trust Mr. Fontes as well – is that the same Stephen Richer?” asked Biggs.
Sellers said he disagreed with Biggs’ characterization.
The results of the Arizona Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results are expected to be released next Friday at 1 pm, according to State Senate Attorney Kory Langhofer. Audit results will include a hand count total of the ballots, a machine count total of ballots to compare the auditing company’s totals against the state’s, and complete analysis of mail-in ballot signatures.
State senators will be the first to lay their eyes on the audit findings prior to a public presentation. The auditing company, Cyber Ninjas, will privately present their findings to Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Peterson (R-Gilbert). Once the other senators have reviewed the report, the judiciary committee will convene formally in a meeting open to the public to discuss the report.
As of press time, neither Fann or the Arizona Republican Party have issued an official statement about this new date for the audit results.
Langhofer revealed the new release date during a hearing on Thursday before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp. The hearing was part of an ongoing lawsuit against the Senate, American Oversight v. Fann, et al., to obtain all communications and documents from Cyber Ninjas. Kemp also ordered Cyber Ninjas and the Senate to produce these records in another lawsuit, Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., v. Arizona State Senate.
Kemp originally ordered Cyber Ninjas to produce the requested records by August 31. However, Kemp granted them more time to turn over the thousands of records following their request.
Cyber Ninjas has faced several delays throughout this audit, which began in April. Most recently, progress halted after their entire team was reportedly infected by COVID-19. The company has also been waiting for Maricopa County election officials to comply with outstanding subpoenas for routers and passwords connected to the voting machines. If the county doesn’t comply by September 27, the state will withhold around $700 million in funding obtained from sales tax revenue.
Those missing items will not be part of this latest report.
Maricopa County argued that they didn’t have to comply with the Senate’s request because the legislative session ended in July. Attorney General Mark Brnovich disagreed. He determined that if the county didn’t comply by the deadline, they would lose out on their millions.
With just one week left before their deadline, the county’s board of supervisors decided to convene to discuss whether they will comply with the Senate’s subpoena. The meeting will take place on Friday.
On Monday, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich advised U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland that the Biden administration’s Department of Justice had no right to interfere with the audit of the Maricopa County 2020 General Election.
Brnovich accused Garland of giving in to the “hysterical” audit opposition.
“My office is not amused by the DOJ’s posturing and will not tolerate any effort to undermine or interfere with our State Senate’s audit to reassure Arizonans of the accuracy of our elections,” wrote Brnovich to Garland.
“My office looks for ways to work alongside the federal government to uphold our laws within the constraints of the 10th Amendment and the election provisions in Articles I and II.” Brnovich concluded, “As I have demonstrated several times, however, Arizona will not sit back and let the Biden administration abuse its authority, refused to uphold laws, or attempt to commandeer our state’s sovereignty.”
Garland has attacked the audit ordered by the Arizona State Senate. “Many of the justifications proffered in support of these post-election audits and restrictions on voting have relied on assertions of material vote fraud in the 2020 election that have been refuted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” Garland said last week.