Arizona Senate Not Holding Maricopa County in Contempt Due to Holdout Republican

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The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate isn’t voting to hold Maricopa County officials in contempt for refusing to fully comply with election audit subpoenas because of a single Republican senator.

Republicans lost a seat in the state Senate in the Nov. 3, 2020, election and hold a narrow 16–14 majority. That gives state Sen. Paul Boyer, a Republican, the power to stymie efforts to hold the county’s Board of Supervisors (BOS) in contempt.

“Senator Boyer agreed to proceed with [the] audit but when Maricopa BOS refused to cooperate, Boyer would not vote with us for the resolution of contempt which leaves us one vote short,” Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, wrote in a July 21 social media post.

Boyer, who didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time, responded directly to Fann.

“You told us in closed caucus the ‘audit’ would not cost taxpayers more than $150k, and you wouldn’t divulge who you were hiring. Had you told us it was an inexperienced, partisan firm, I wouldn’t have been the only one to object,” he said.

Fann tapped Florida-based Cyber Ninjas to lead the audit, along with subcontractors Wake Technology Services, CyFIR, and Digital Discovery.

Democrats and other critics have said that Cyber Ninjas isn’t qualified to perform such an audit because the firm lacks experience conducting audits and because its CEO, Doug Logan, shared and made posts on social media last year alleging election fraud had occurred in the Nov. 3, 2020, election. Proponents and Republicans have said the firm has created a transparent process for an unprecedented election review and that the subcontractors have ample experience.

On the issue of funding, taxpayers are only paying $150,000. Donations are funding the rest of the audit.

Senators voted in February on a measure to hold the BOS in contempt for failing to comply with subpoenas issued by the state Senate in late 2020.

Supervisors “have repeatedly and willfully delayed and obstructed a vital and duly authorized investigation by the Arizona Senate,” the resolution stated.

The measure would have enabled the Senate to send the sergeant-at-arms to arrest the supervisors.

The vote went along party lines, except for Boyer, who sided with Democrats. That made the vote 15–15.

“My vote is about patience,” Boyer said, noting that it would provide “a little bit more time for us to work together charitably and amicably as friends.”

The standoff between county and state officials ended later that month, when a judge ruled against the county, saying the subpoenas the Senate issued were valid.

County supervisors agreed to turn over nearly 2.1 million ballots, 385 tabulators, and other election-related materials, but have refused to send over router or router images and passwords to access the election machines at an administrative level.

Auditors want that information, as well as ballot envelope images and splunk logs, to try to clear up issues they’ve identified in their review. The county isn’t cooperating, however…..

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Continue reading this article, published July 22, 2021 at The Epoch Times.

Implications of the Arizona Audit- Part II

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The widening implications will likely depend on whether the results show there has been significant discrepancy or fraud, whether those results are credible and believable, and whether the press actually covers the story and public opinion shifts.

Once Republicans believe they have a solid case, then strategies will need to be developed to go into the political and legal unknown where there is a great political risk for this already badly divided country. There is little precedent for what to do and many will argue that it is better to “let sleeping dogs lie” until the next election. However, a better case can be made that the lying dogs who perpetrated election fraud should never be allowed to sleep.

Should legislators in various states simply fix the election procedures and processes? Should those that engaged in fraud be prosecuted?  What happens to those already in office? What happens to the legislation illegitimate leaders have passed?

The problem is there are obviously partisan reasons for either believing or not believing. You can expect partisan fury will attempt to overwhelm evidence and procedure.

Right now, we are at the point of a discrepancy, which is itself an important milestone. But if Maricopa County officials continue to block the investigation, it will be argued that it was not complete and credibility will be reduced. Ironically, at least in Arizona, it is Republicans that will determine whether this election integrity project has credibility.

As we have come this far that many believe the election was fraudulent, and we are at least at the point of a discrepancy, it is alarming the Board of Supervisors should continue to block a legitimate inquiry conducted by elected representatives. This story affects the whole state and the nation, and they are mere county officials, albeit elected as well.

For the sake of party unity if not the integrity of the democratic process, they should go along with this investigation, especially if they have done nothing wrong. If no wrongdoing occurred, they will be able to make their opponents look like idiots.

If they have done wrong, it is not worth destroying the electoral reputation of this great Republic just to save the political hides of county officials. We should remember their names for sure for the next election cycle, and see that they are all removed, hopefully in the primary stage of the election cycle.

But in the interim, maybe a bargain should be struck. Come clean and cooperate and no one gets prosecuted.

We need to break out of the conundrum formed by those that opposed the investigation in the first place. They will contend, no credible evidence has been developed, while all along blocking the path to develop the credible evidence.

It is similar to the “the courts have found no evidence of fraud”, when in most cases the courts refused to even hear the case as they claimed that plaintiffs had “no standing”.

Just for the sake of intellectual speculation, let’s assume that results do show “significant” fraud, that is fraud on a sufficient scale to alter the results of a close election.

Let’s further assume that results are considered supportable. That could be a hard sell since we have few examples of true audits rather than just recounts by the same officials that may have been conducting the fraud. There are few examples of outside parties actually not just counting the ballots, but verifying the ballots that are being counted. Thus, we don’t have a lot of precedents.

Arizona may be setting a new precedent.

A recount is not enough. Recounting fraudulent ballots simply cannot tell you which are fraudulent and those that are not. It might find if there are issues of mechanical counting errors or improper or inaccurate counting, but counting illegitimate ballots simply gives you a tally of illegitimate ballots mixed in with proper ballots.

Recounts can’t determine if voters were not citizens, or have moved, are deceased, or if the chain of custody was compromised, or if machines are internally or externally manipulated.

But assuming the conclusions of fraud are supportable, will the mainline press bury the story? Probably not, although they have buried other big stories that offend Democrats like Hunter Biden. Can they, in the end, truly bury this story?

So, let’s assume significant fraud is determined, the means and methods of determining said are supportable and accepted by the majority of voters. And we assume, the press can’t ultimately deep-six the story. It gets widespread coverage and more states copy Arizona and look into their elections as well and similar things are found.

Now, what happens? Republicans will be in the position of the “dog that caught the bus”, to wit, what do you do with it once you have it? One does not get the sense they have a plan that is thought through to its full logical implications.

Obviously, the people in office, are in office. In this case, given the Democrat party’s ability to unite and the Republican party’s ability to fragment, nothing is likely to happen until the next election cycle. I doubt Democrats will step down, even if it is determined they are illegitimate officeholders.

However, it would appear Democrats are putting out signs of desperation. Midterm elections don’t go well historically in any case, and in this particular case, with fraud, dementia, DOJ collusion, inflation, their created border crisis, the critical race theory they embrace, a crime way they caused, and illegitimacy issues dogging them; they act like they want to stuff the channel with as much radical legislation as possible. They must fear a short tenure.

Assuming this plays out, the Democrats will lose the House and Senate at the mid-term election, but maintain the Executive Branch and the fourth branch of government, the bureaucratic establishment.

Then what do the Republicans do especially if the courts continue to run from the issue?  Clearly, under the Constitution, state legislatures ultimately are in charge of election procedures and processes.

For those in office that benefited from election fraud, impeachment would be in order. But if mid-term elections are not decisive, we are stuck with a full Democrat presidential term and all the executive orders and legislation that got through in the first two years and executive orders in the final two years. The Democrats would surely be wounded, but they will have crammed through their desired radical legislation nonetheless.

Biden is already using Executive Orders at a faster pace than any previous President, as well.

Assuming in four years, Republicans have both the Executive and Legislative branches, then what?

We saw what happened when they had that situation with George Bush, and it was not impressive was it? So, Republican leaders need to develop a clear strategy if election fraud is determined.

Conservatives should not brook any talk of a military coup or this kind of nonsense. Our guide has to be the Constitution, but not necessarily tradition.

Democrats will have to be removed either by impeachment or preferably, elections. Hopefully, honest elections. That means election integrity is essential for constitutional remedies to work. Election integrity is not a threat to the republic, continued election fraud is.

That means at a minimum, the GOP must have the courage to pursue a course that ensures election integrity in as many states as politically possible.

The minimum effort would be the least disruptive I suppose, but what then do Republicans do if they come back into power?

My own preference would be to see that every piece of legislation and executive order be legally repealed going back to say…Grover Cleveland.

But seriously, we should want to repeal anything put in place by a government that was formed on the basis of fraud and deceit. It would indeed be undemocratic to let stand legislation that was put in place by individuals not properly elected. To honor laws written by illegitimate politicians is certainly a greater affront to democracy than questioning an election.

Then, some important people need to go to jail.

As far as the bureaucratic agencies, clean house. If that requires modifying civil service laws, then that will be necessary.

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Read The Arizona Election Audit and Its Implications – Part I here.

Hacking Attempts, Unaccounted Ballots Claimed By Maricopa County Auditors

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The auditors paid by Arizona Senate Republicans to review Maricopa County’s 2020 general election said Thursday they have found security flaws and want to dig further.

County officials, however, said the auditors’ announcements are the latest in a series of sham declarations meant to cast doubt on the results and spur a redo of the election.

A hearing in Phoenix on Thursday consisted of only Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, and Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, asking questions of Ken Bennett, former Arizona secretary of state and liaison for the Senate in audit; Doug Logan, CEO of auditing firm Cyber Ninjas; and Ben Cotton of digital security firm CyFIR.

The auditors didn’t announce any final numbers that would infer elections were stolen, but they highlighted security issues they had found in their weeks-long investigation of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots.

Cotton said the voting machines hadn’t received a security patch, something common with home and business cybersecurity, since 2019, when they were certified. The county responded to the claim by saying they “cannot update our systems through security patches. That is why we maintained an air gapped system. Installing security patches would be changing the system that was certified.”

Cotton told lawmakers one of the systems received 37,000 queries one day in February even though the system had eight registered users, inferring another entity attempting to access the system.

Logan said many ballots were printed in a manner that wasn’t lined up perfectly, potentially creating a situation where ink bleed could alter votes on the other side of the ballot.

“It can potentially cause an overvote. It can potentially cause you to vote for someone you didn’t intend to vote for,” Logan said, referring to a method called “kinematic artifact detection,” an untested method of authentication. “The bleed of one side’s bubble can go to the other side and get within the area where other votes are taking place.”

Logan said the issue might have been present on tens of thousands of ballots. However, the county maintains an offset will not affect votes.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in June she wouldn’t allow the voting machines turned over to auditors to be used in future elections, saying they broke the chain of custody. The county bought new machines, costing $2.8 million. Fann signed an agreement that the Senate would cover the cost of any equipment determined to be compromised.

Cotton, the audit’s digital specialist, refuted the claim that auditors had spoiled the machines.

“We did not do anything of the sort that would have interfered with any of the machine configurations or any of the tampering that the secretary of state has alleged,” he said.

Auditors requested a door-to-door canvass of voters, additional hardware they said the county was withholding, as well as other data they said would paint a clearer picture of the election.

Many supporters of former President Donald Trump have hoped the audit would cast enough doubt on the integrity of the 2020 election that it would set the wheels in motion to reinstall Trump or recall electors from key states that Trump lost, spurring a “redo” of the election.

“I have heard enough,” Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstafftweeted during the hearing. “With the tens of thousands of ballots mailed without being requested, the over ten thousand people who voted after registering after November 3rd, the failure of Maricopa to turn over the 40% machines, the passwords that Dominion still refuses to turn over, [and] tens of thousands of unauthorized queries demonstrating how insecure the election was, I call for the Biden electors to be recalled to Arizona [and] a new election must be conducted. Arizona’s electors must not be awarded fraudulently & we need to get this right.”

“Let’s be clear. This sham ‘audit’ was never actually about election integrity,” they said. “It’s always been about sowing doubt, confusion and conspiracy theories in an effort to pass more restrictions on voting rights because the GOP no longer believe in Democracy.”

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This article was published on July 15, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

Maricopa County Auditors Seek Ballot Envelope Images, Splunk Logs After Discovering Discrepancies

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Teams conducting a forensic audit in Arizona’s largest county said on July 15 that they want more items to complete their review, which has turned up several major discrepancies.

The auditors, led by Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, want ballot envelope images, router images, splunk logs, hard drives that contain information about the 2020 election in Maricopa County, and details on the county’s policies and procedures as they try to complete a review that started nearly three months ago.

That information could help clear up issues that have been identified.

Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, told senators at the Arizona State Capitol during a hearing that auditors can find no record of the county sending more than 74,000 mail-in ballots. Ben Cotton, CEO of CyFIR, a subcontractor working on the audit, said the analysis of the election management system and network uncovered “severe cybersecurity problems,” including that antivirus programs weren’t up to date.

The hearing came after Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, whose Republican caucus authorized the audit late last year, said the auditors’ ballot count produced a different number from the county’s count.

Logan said the discrepancies with mail-in ballot records should trigger a canvassing proposal that was put on hold under pressure from the Department of Justice.

“Based on the data we’re seeing, I highly recommend canvassing, because it is the one way to know for sure whether some of the data we’re seeing, if it’s real problems or whether it’s clerical errors of some sort,” he said.

The July 15 testimony, given in front of Fann and Sen. Warren Peterson, chairman of the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee, immediately triggered a push to conduct a new election in the state, where President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump by about 10,500 votes…..

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Continue reading this article at The Epoch Times.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital Fires Doctor Who Accused Israel Of ‘Cannibalism’

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In a social media post, Fidaa Wishah, a Palestinian-American pediatric radiologist, also warned the Jewish state, ‘your end is coming sooner than you think’.

A Palestinian-American pediatric radiologist has been fired from her position at Phoenix Children’s Hospital after her social media post accusing Israel of “cannibalism” was called out by an antisemitism watchdog.

On Monday, the Twitter account @StopAntisemites shared a screenshot of a May 26 Facebook post by Dr. Fidaa Wishah, in which Wishah wrote “We will expose the #massacre and #genocide you Zionists are proud of.”

“We will uncover your thirst to kill our Palestinian children… A state based on atrocity, inhumanity, racism and cannibalism never lasts long!” she wrote. “Hey #israel… your end is coming sooner than you think.”

The message was retweeted hundreds of times. Two days later, Phoenix Children’s replied to the tweet that Wishah had been fired.

“After a thorough review of the facts related to this matter, this individual is no longer providing care at Phoenix Children’s,” the hospital’s tweet said.

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Continue reading this article at The Times of Israel.

The Arizona Election Audit and Its Implications – Part I

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Many in the state of Arizona and, unquestionably, throughout the nation, are awaiting the results of the Arizona audit.

At this writing, we do not know the results of the audit. We will reserve judgement on that. We wish more would just wait to see evidence before commenting.

The spinmeisters have been at work for months though. Democrats, and some Republicans, argue that the audit was unnecessary, bogus, and born out of conspiracy theories.

Our own take is quite simple – the Democrats would not have mobilized an army of attorneys, launched the lawsuits they have, or activated their foot soldiers in the media to attack the audit if there was nothing there. If they were confident the election was clean, then why not let the Republicans have the rope to hang themselves? Why the constant drumbeat to discredit the investigation before the results are even known?

A few argue that it was alright to audit but that the Arizona Senate chose the wrong firm to do the audit. This firm did not have the “establishment” credentials they would like to see. We note that most of those stating that never called for an audit and never suggested any other firms.

But this is jumping the gun we think. The fact that the firm chosen does not have “large offices” and has been quite discrete about its processes is no indication of incompetence. In fact, if the election was indeed rigged by a combination of Democrat operatives, election machine executives, and Republican establishment RINOs, the audit would have to be done differently than normal.  It would require a firm truly outside of the leadership of both parties.

From volunteers we have spoken to, they appear to be running a tight ship, keeping video cameras continuously whirring throughout the long audit process, and asking participants to be quiet until results are known.

As to conspiracy theories, we are reflecting on the joke we heard a few weeks ago. The joke was that I must give up all my old conspiracy theories because so many of them have turned out to be true and we need to get some new ones.

If you had asked the average American even 20 years ago that we would get into an endless war in the Middle East started by terrorists funded by the Saudi government (our allies), that we would invade Iraq based on the idea of “weapons of mass destruction” that were never found, that Democrats would pay for Russian disinformation in order to accuse a sitting President of colluding with the same Russians, or that the law enforcement and intelligence agencies at the very top of our government would be part of the scheme, or that the U.S. government would help fund the Chinese work on a virus that escaped, or worse, was exported from laboratories that would infect the world, we would not have believed any of it.

Nor would we have believed that critical race theory would suddenly become the rage among American educators and transgenderism would infect our military.

We would not have believed that American social media companies would ban books, suppress free speech, and cooperate with the Communist Chinese in oppressing their citizens.

We would not have believed the Pfizer vaccine would conveniently appear two days after the election.

None of these important events could just occur spontaneously or randomly.

Strange things have been going on and to dismiss the possibility of election fraud simply because there have not been that many proven cases before, would be foolish. Perhaps there have been plenty of cases we never knew about because we never had any audits!

But seriously, we know that election fraud does take place and we give credit to those investigating if and to what degree it occurred in Arizona’s presidential and Senate 2020 election.

What are the broader implications?

Well, if nothing is found, then it likely harms the credibility of many supporters of Donald Trump.

If something substantive is found, then it certainly harms Democrats, and many Republicans, the news media, and late-night comedians. Locally, it would really hurt the Arizona Republic.

What would it mean for the Presidency, as an institution? Clearly, it would harm the President, already under a cloud of cognitive decline. But the Vice President too would appear to be just as illegitimate. Can the U.S. traverse the turbulent seas of state without a captain that can claim legitimacy along with some respect? Will our enemies and our internal divisions be strengthened in the void?

What will it mean for Governor Ducey, who was quick to certify the election, the leader of the Republican Party in this state, and who is at odds with his own party on this and many other issues?  Silence may be the correct position, but it hardly smacks of leadership.

What about leaders in the Arizona Legislature who have pushed for this audit, only to find their claims are not substantiated? These leaders took a considerable political risk and have endured the wrath of the Chamber of Commerce, establishment Republicans, and nonstop criticism from the media to complete this audit.

Regardless of the outcome, they have our respect. At least they did something!

What about some of our officials, like the Republicans on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors or Stephen Richer, the new Maricopa County Recorder elected in November 2020, if the audit does show fraudulent results? It would seem to further split the Republican Party while leaving the Democrats as the party of cheaters.

We have been particularly puzzled by Stephen Richer, the new Maricopa County Recorder. When we interviewed him last October for The Prickly Pear, he stated that he wanted to “make the Recorder’s office boring again”. By that, he was referring to his predecessor Adrian Fontes who had played partisan games and unsuccessfully and inappropriately attempted to change voting rules in what had long been a nonpartisan office protecting the integrity of the voting process for all Maricopa County citizens.

But before any results of the audit were known, Richer goes on CNN with Anderson Cooper, laughing, smiling, and denigrating the audit process. Please view the video provided. He denigrated the process, without knowing the process. It just was not a firm he would have chosen, although we don’t recall him even calling for an audit.

We don’t know the particular processes of the audit, and neither do the critics. But, lack of knowledge is no reason to avoid a TV camera, is it?

Having thrown our own support to Richer, this was unsettling. We disagree with both what he said and the forum he chose to say it. Shame on us for our naivete.

He says he is defending his staff. Fair enough, but he goes beyond this to call other Republican leaders conspiracy nuts as well.

We don’t think it undermines democracy to check on anything public officials do. The elected representatives of the people called for this audit and they will bear the consequences. That is as it should be. Why jump to criticize other Republicans on CNN? A circular firing squad is the last thing we need right now.

We guess this is another lesson learned.

It reminds us of the comments of an old friend scarred in many political battles as a Conservative activist. His axiom was, “Never underestimate the ability of Republicans to disappoint”.

We hope this axiom is not confirmed once again.

 

BREAKING UPDATE: HISTORY MADE AS FINAL ARIZONA BALLOT INSPECTIONS COMPLETED – Huge Preliminary Report Expected Monday When True Number of Ballot Totals Announced

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The Arizona Audit officially completed both the hand count and paper evaluation inspections on Friday.

The audit workers will now vacate Veterans Memorial Coliseum and prepare to deliver a report to the Arizona Senate.

The Gateway Pundit reported earlier that this was taking place but it was made official by a tweet from @ArizonaAudit.

Audit Update: Paper examination and counting are finished today. Thank you to all the amazing Arizona volunteers who made this audit possible!

Earlier this afternoon, volunteers slammed a box closed and cheered in celebration after the final ballots were inspected.

TGP reported that the results will be released in two phases:

1.) On Monday we may see a preliminary report, which details the accuracy of the number of certified ballots.
2.) We then expect to see a full forensic report which details the forensic images and ballot findings.
This is HUGE.

On Monday or soon after, we will know the true number of ballots that were cast in Maricopa County. If it is drastically different than the number of certified ballots, as expected with the discrepancies found, there will be severe consequences for Doug Ducey and Katie Hobbs.

The Arizona State Senate will need to consider decertifying the results if they cannot prove that Biden was the winner. Attorney General Mark Brnovich will need to initiate an investigation into those involved in the scam and the cover-up.

Eric Greitens says that decertification is the next step and the freight train will continue with even more steam.

Since the beginning, audit officials have been reporting significant discrepancies in the total number of ballots.

This was just one of many issues encountered along the way as it seems county officials have done everything in their power to prevent this audit from finding the truth. Since day one, legislative subpoenas for Dominion routers and passwords have been violated and it leaves us wondering why.

On Monday, We will have the accurate total number of ballots that were received during Maricopa County’s 2020 election.

Will the totals add up?

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This article was published on June 25, 2021 at The Gateway Pundit.

Maricopa County Approves Budget, Cutting Taxes

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On Monday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved a $3.4 billion budget for the 2022 fiscal year beginning July 1, cutting property tax rates and increasing public health and homelessness prevention funding.

The $3,419,735,244 budget marks a $898,479 decrease from the board’s Tentative Budget.

The board also moved to adopt its five-year capital improvement plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2026.

“I do think it is significant that we lowered the [property tax] rate, showing that we are very conscious of trying to ensure that we were staying as efficient as possible in Maricopa County,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers, District 1, said following the board’s unanimous vote.

In a statement, Maricopa County said the budget addresses needs which resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board of Supervisors will appropriate $439 million of federal funding from the American Rescue Act passed by Congress for continued pandemic recovery in the county.

The budget funds 30 new positions for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, provides $5 million in additional funding to prevent homelessness, and continues funding rental and utility assistance programs to prevent evictions. It adds staff and resources to the Office of the Medical Examiner due to the increase of deaths in the past year and funds a new command center for the Emergency Management Department, which the county said was instrumental in pandemic response efforts.

The Board of Supervisors will also invest $76 million to improve the county’s technology infrastructure to meet Maricopa County’s goal of becoming an all-digital county.

“For the past year, we have dealt with one crisis after another. Responding quickly and efficiently to the public health emergency has been a priority, but now’s the time to look to the future,” Sellers said. “What we do today will determine whether we retain a high quality of life for future generations.”

Sellers said that the budget returns Arizonans to their jobs, strengthens the safety net for the vulnerable, and invests in the necessary infrastructure for the continued prosperity of Arizona’s fastest-growing county.

“The pandemic taught us how tenuous health and financial security are for too many in our community, and so we invested in those areas,” Vice Chairman Bill Gates, District 3, said.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will meet on August 16 to vote on the final tax levy proposal.

Supervisor Steve Gallardo, District 5, praised the county’s work in the last year.

“They’ve made sure COVID-19 resources, information, and vaccines are available to everyone in our community and supported people who have lost jobs or businesses or homes due to the pandemic,” Gallardo said. “With additional funding for Public Health and a brand-new Homeless Initiative, I have no doubt we will make a huge, positive difference in the lives of our residents in the coming year.”

This article was published on June 21, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

 

Maricopa County Cuts PropertyTaxes In Latest Budget Proposal

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Even with the population increase in Arizona being among one of the fastest-growing states during the past decade, its 7.1 million population, especially in the Phoenix area shown here, was not enough to give the state a 10th congressional seat the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday, April 26, 2021.

Arizona’s largest county is cutting property taxes.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved of a tentative $3.4 billion budget for the 2022 fiscal year. The proposal is an increase from its $3 billion budget enacted amid the COVID-19 pandemic that saw a reduction in spending but a flat tax levy and federal aid.

Since the county’s portion of a resident’s total property tax levy is roughly 15% of a total annual bill, the change won’t be significant. Some may see their bills go up, since home values are the other half of the equation when tabulating a property tax bill. According to WalletHub, a $225,550 single-family home would pay an average of $1,499, the 13th-lowest rate in the nation.

Still, the announcement was welcomed by budget hawks who have criticized the county for tax increases in years past.

Kudos to the [Board of Supervisors] for reducing the primary property tax rate below the Truth in Taxation requirement,” Arizona Tax Research Association Senior Analyst Sean McCarthy said Tuesday. “Now let’s do the same with County Flood and Library Districts.”

The proposal uses $439 million in federal tax dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. The board said it will use those funds to hire 30 more county health department employees to aid in its ongoing fight against the pandemic. 

“Our job is to be responsive to the needs of our community and respectful of the taxpayer’s hard-earned dollars. This budget does that,” Vice Chair Bill Gates said. “The pandemic taught us how tenuous health and financial security are for too many in our community, and so we invested in those areas.”

The plan, if enacted, would spend $76 million to improve the county’s technology infrastructure and increase internet service options for residents. It also includes $5 million to fight homelessness, and adds personnel to the county medical examiner’s office, which has been understaffed in correlation with population growth and deaths attributed to COVID-19.

“County employees – especially our essential workers – have done an incredible amount of good over the past year,” Supervisor Steve Gallardo said.  “They’ve made sure COVID-19 resources, information, and vaccine are available to everyone in our community and supported people who have lost jobs or businesses or homes due to the pandemic.

”The public is welcomed to comment on the proposal until it’s voted on at a meeting scheduled for June 21

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This article was published on May 18, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from the Center Square.

 

Arizona Republicans Clash Over Audit of County’s Election Results

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“It has been nothing but delays, delays, delays,” Arizona Senate President Karen Fann says. Pictured: Contractors for Cyber Ninjas, a firm hired by the state Senate, move Maricopa County ballots May 8 that will be examined and recounted at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

Arizona Republicans at the state level are squaring off against their counterparts at the county level over an election audit, even though leaders on both sides agree that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump to win Arizona’s 11 electoral votes.

“This has nothing to do with overturning the election or decertifying electors or anything else. It never has been about that,” state Senate President Karen Fann said during a public meeting Tuesday about the audit of the election results in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county and second-largest voting jurisdiction.

“What this is about—the Arizona Senate, we are in charge of creating and passing laws that ensure that elections are done properly, accurately, safely, with full election integrity,” Fann said, adding: “I have said from the get-go I am relatively certain that we are not going to find anything of any magnitude that would imply that any intentional wrongdoing was going on.”

The Republican-controlled state Senate authorized the audit, but the Republican-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors defiantly refuses to cooperate.

The county’s resistance includes refusing to participate in a special meeting called Tuesday by Fann that included the auditors and the Senate’s liaison to Maricopa County—former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.  

The meeting at the state Capitol in Phoenix, running just over an hour, proved to be a rather reserved session as Fann and only one other senator, Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen, questioned a panel of three persons involved in the audit.

By contrast, the meeting the night before of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in some ways resembled a long Trump tweet thread. It ran for fewer than 20 minutes, with elected officials bellowing words such as “sham,” “craziness,” and “circus.”

>>> Related: Trump Antagonist Opposes Arizona Election Audit as Justice Department Official

“I just want to make it clear: I will not be responding to any more requests from this sham process,” Board Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican, said. “Finish what you are calling an audit and be ready to defend your report in a court of law. We all look forward to it.”

Maricopa County officials took umbrage to questions posed by  Fann in a letter last week. They particularly called out a cybersecurity firm, Cyber Ninjas, that is conducting the election audit, and especially a tweet from the Senate’s liaison for the audit that seemed to allege a cover-up.

“This board is done explaining anything to these people who are playing investigator with our constituents’ ballots and equipment paid for with real people’s tax dollars,” Sellers said.

Regarding the auditors, he said: “They can’t find the files because they don’t know what they’re doing.”

‘Delays, Delays, Delays’

During the Arizona Senate hearing, Fann addressed the cost concerns, noting that the Senate sought to do the audit as a team effort with the county, which would have saved money and avoided the relocation of ballots or equipment.

After initially pledging cooperation, the county sued the Senate.

Ever since a judge ruled for the Senate, Fann said, “It has been nothing but delays, delays, delays.”

Fann, who represents Prescott, added:

I’m only saddened it has cost us more taxpayer money, because we never wanted the ballots and equipment moved to begin with. We said, ‘Let us go there. Let us do this together.’ Instead, we have had to spend so much more taxpayer money on having to rent the coliseum out and set up the security system. It’s sad we had to spend all that extra money when we could have just done it for less had we worked together as a team.

Fann was referring to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

The audit of the election in Maricopa County, which has about 4 million residents, is reevaluating 2.1 million ballots. It is likely to wrap up by the end of June, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan told senators.

The election results in Arizona were among the narrowest of state outcomes in November. Because of its size, Maricopa was key to Biden’s margin of victory over Trump, who narrowly carried the county in 2016.

In final official results in Arizona, Biden got 1.67 million votes or 49.4%; Trump got 1.66 million votes or 49.1%.

‘We Don’t Need to Do Name-Calling’

At most, the audit could change the winner of Arizona, but it wouldn’t change the national outcome since Biden would retain enough electoral votes to win the presidency.

In December, a state judge upheld the Arizona Senate’s authority to subpoena information from Maricopa, The Associated Press reported.

Cyber Ninjas’ Logan said his company has worked in the past with the financial services industry and the government, in response to criticism that it had no experience with elections.

Logan said the audit is being livestreamed 24/7 and a full digital trail is in place. Each ballot is certified by three people, he said, so it is impossible for one person to meddle with the tally.

All ballots are under armed security, Logan said.

“This is the first forensic audit done on this scale in the history of this country,” said Petersen, the Judiciary Committee chairman, a Republican who rejoined the Senate in January and also has served in the state House.

Petersen, whose district includes Gilbert and parts of Maricopa County, added: “Not only do we have 24-hour security, we also have 24-hour efforts to shut down the audit.”

Expressing regret that county officials did not participate in the hearing, Petersen said, “We want to work together with them. We don’t need to do any name-calling.”

‘Defamed and Ridiculed’

Maricopa County’s top election official, Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican first elected in November, noted some of the more outrageous allegations while speaking Monday night at the board meeting.

“I have been accused of shredding ballots, tabulated in an election that I didn’t run [but was] run by my predecessor, my political opponent,” Richer said. “I have been accused of inserting fake ballots delivered by a South Korean plane. … More recently, I have been accused of deleting entire databases, even though I participated in the transferring of all databases to the Senate.”

Richer went to say he was tired of being silent when honest county employees who work for him have been maligned.

“I didn’t want to get involved. I wanted to sit quietly on the sidelines, but it is enough,” Richer said. “I am now the leader of an office of 160 full-time employees, and I am tired of hearing them defamed and ridiculed.”

The allegation of deleted election-related information is among the most contentious accusations. Auditors and senators alleged the deletion, but not the tales of South Korea and other matters Richer mentioned.

“We deleted zero, zero election files,” Richer said. 

Ben Cotton, founder of Cyber Ninjas subcontractor CyFIR, told senators Tuesday night that he managed to locate files and that they certainly had been deleted.

“I discovered a [master file table] that clearly indicated the database entry was deleted from that server,” Cotton said. “All of this, however, may be a moot point because subsequently I’ve been able to recover all of those files and I have access to that data. … I have the information I need from the recovery of the data.”

‘Craziest Conspiracy Theories’

Richer said at the county board meeting Monday night that he was troubled by Republican support for the audit, but blamed Cyber Ninjas and its CEO, Logan—who reportedly had deleted a tweet claiming Trump won the presidential election.

“Many of the people participating in the audit are my friends. They are good people. People who likely want to help our democracy,” Richer said, adding:

I hope they will remain my friends. I’ll say the same of Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett. He is a good man who approached us with good intentions. But they are led by the Cyber Ninjas, the company that nobody has ever heard of with a CEO who has indulged even the craziest election conspiracy theories involving [former Venezuelan dictator] Hugo Chavez.

During the Senate session the next day, Fann expressed a similar sentiment.

“I’m so saddened by the Board of Supervisors yesterday, some of the hurtful comments [that] were made, which is sad,” the Arizona Senate president said. “These guys have been my friends, some of them for 20 years. This is not personal. This is about our jobs as elected officials.” 

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This article was published on May 19, 2021 and is reproduced with permission of Daily Signal.