Court Prevents Blocking Of Election Audit Result Release

( )- On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court shut down a last-ditch attempt by Senate Republicans to evade compliance with a public records request for all documents related to its election audit from Maricopa County.

Back in May, the Left-leaning American Oversight sued the Arizona Senate along with Senate President, Republican Karen Fann, demanding access to all communications and records between the Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the contractor leading the Maricopa County Audit, as well as the sub-contractors employed by Cyber Ninjas.

Attorneys for Senate Republicans argued that these documents, which included information on the donors who funded the audit, were not subject to public disclosure rules because the documents are not in the Senate’s possession, but in the possession of Cyber Ninjas, a private company, and the subcontractors.

Senate President Fann said at the time that the Senate had already complied with record requests between the government “and entities we do business with.” However, she argued that the Senate cannot produce documents that are not now, or have ever been, in their possession.

On August 3, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp rejected the Senate’s argument and ordered them to produce all the records requested by American Oversight.

The Senate appealed Judge Kemp’s ruling, but a three-judge panel from the Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the Senate’s appeal.

In its decision, the Appeals Court ruled that since the audit was conducted with public funds, Cyber Ninjas and its sub-vendors are considered “agents of the Senate.” Therefore, the court concluded that there was no exemption that would shield the Senate “from the responsibility to inform the public of activities regarding the audit.”

Tuesday’s decision by the state Supreme Court leaves the ruling in place. It also lifted the temporary stay on the release of the documents that was put in place in August.

In praising the state Supreme Court’s decision, Austin Evers, American Oversight’s executive director said that Arizonans “can look forward to much-needed transparency” surrounding the controversial audit.

Evers criticized the “legal maneuvering” the Senate attempted to conceal the records from the public, adding that it was as outrageous as “their so-called audit.”

Just days before the Court’s decision, and after weeks of delays, the audit team announced that it expects to submit to the Senate a full draft report on their findings as early as this week.