The consulting firm hired by the GOP-led Arizona Senate to conduct an audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County claims a document about security plans never should have been released by the Maricopa County Superior Court.
Florida-based Cyber Ninjas filed on Friday for an emergency status conference with county Judge Daniel Martin, claiming the court knew there was an agreement between the defendants and the plaintiffs, Democrats who filed the lawsuit in an effort to stop the audit over concerns about adherence to state election laws and regulations, not to release the exhibit, which included a description of preparations for a possible attack by Antifa.
The filing was tweeted out by Nicole Valdes, a reporter with ABC 15 Arizona.
"Although the court had knowledge since 11:02am that the parties agreed that Exhibit D9 should be sealed… the Court released Exhibit D9 to the public." pic.twitter.com/9CNvImK9Qw
— Nicole Valdes (@NicoleValdesTV) May 1, 2021
Attorneys for the Senate and Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO, Doug Logan, has been subject to scrutiny over his promotion of voter fraud allegations and “Stop the Steal” posts on social media, argued that state election regulations don’t apply to the Legislature and the audit and asked the court to keep the audit’s methods under seal as trade secrets.
But Cyber Ninjas released three documents on Thursday one day after Martin denied its request to keep them sealed after a prior judge who later recused himself ordered the firm and the Arizona Senate to follow state law on ballot secrecy and voter privacy. Martin offered one day for an appeal, but the firm released the documents due, in part, to calls by the media for more transparency.
Cyber Ninjas withheld one document, Exhibit D9, which reportedly contained “sensitive security information” and was placed under an “attorneys eyes only” designation, said attorney Dan Barr. The document was subsequently released Thursday evening and detailed a threat assessment scenario about antifa attempting to foil the audit process.
Antifa is shorthand for “anti-fascist” and commonly refers to leftist agitators who steer protest causes into violent actions and arson. No such disruptions have occurred during the recount.
The plan also laid out specific positions for security personnel at the audit site, including a private security company to monitor the interior of the building for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while ballots are present.
The audit started on April 23, and the state Senate has possession of Veterans Memorial Coliseum through May 14. The review, which includes 2.1 million ballots cast, a forensic audit of the voting machines, and follow-up interviews with voters, has been subject to intense scrutiny for other multiple issues, including media access and questions raised about who is funding the effort on top of the $150,000 being doled out by the state Senate
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who has been heavily critical of the audit, released a statement on Friday that said initial reports from an observer from her office “indicate that my concerns about the reliability of this so-called audit are valid.”
Independent, nationally recognized election equipment and audit experts offered to help the Senate develop valid audit procedures and observe the process. Those offers went without reply. 1/ pic.twitter.com/yESdA6YGFe
— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) April 30, 2021
Also on Friday, the Maricopa County Elections Department announced its staff was responding to a request by the Arizona Senate’s audit liaison, who would be former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, to pick up election equipment it delivered last week in compliance with a subpoena.
The Senate’s audit liaison has requested @maricopacounty pick up election equipment we delivered last week to comply with the Senate’s subpoena. Our staff is onsite today to inventory the equipment, prepare it for secure & safe transport & deliver it back to @MaricopaVote pic.twitter.com/h5Ft1wW7uT
— Maricopa County Elections Department (@MaricopaVote) April 30, 2021
A Twitter account claiming to be the official one for the audit later tweeted: “Big News!! Today we returned half of the voting machines to the County after capturing all data. We are now moving to phase 2 and beginning the forensic analysis. The audit continues!”
Big News!! Today we returned half of the voting machines to the County after capturing all data. We are now moving to phase 2 and beginning the forensic analysis. The audit continues!
— Maricopa Arizona Audit (@ArizonaAudit) May 1, 2021
Former President Donald Trump has celebrated the audit, releasing multiple tweemails, and on Tuesday insisted it will show Arizona was a “scam election” state.
The audit will not change the results of the presidential election, as officials in the state have already certified President Joe Biden’s victory, but Arizona Senate President Karen Fann insisted in a radio interview that the audit is meant to restore trust in the system and influence potential changes to the law.
Democrats argue that the results from two previous audits, conducted for the GOP-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, showed no irregularities in the county’s 2020 election, calling it a “dangerous fishing expedition” that could do damage to the sanctity of the secret ballot.