AZ County Twitter Account Heckles ‘Audit’ Press Conference In Real Time

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 03: Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election on May 3, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Courtney... PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 03: Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election on May 3, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Courtney Pedroza for the Washington Post) MORE LESS
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May 18, 2021 6:41 p.m.

Two Republicans in the Arizona Senate held a bizarre live-streamed meeting Tuesday with the leaders of a shady “audit” into the 2020 election results in the state’s largest county, Maricopa. 

The county’s board of supervisors, which is dominated 4-1 by Republicans, had been invited to attend. But they declined, writing in a letter Monday that, “we have wasted enough County resources. People’s tax dollars are real, your ‘auditors’ are not.” 

Still, just because the county didn’t have a representative in the room didn’t mean county officials weren’t watching the proceedings. In fact, as the meeting progressed, Maricopa County started … heckling it, on Twitter.

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The meeting stemmed from a letter that Senate President Karen Fann (R), who authorized the audit in the first place, sent to the county last week, alleging among other things that an entire database directory that was supposed to be included in the county’s transfer to the Senate audit had been “deleted.” 

The county denied the claim, and responded in their letter to Fann saying, “[T]he failure of your so called ‘auditors’ to locate data files on the copy they made of the County’s server speaks more to their ineptitude than it does to the integrity and actions of our dedicated public employees who effectively and accurately run the elections in the fourth largest county in the United States.” 

On Tuesday, Ben Cotton, founder of the firm CyFIR and one of the audit contractors, told Fann and state Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen (R) that he initially found indications that “the database directory was deleted from that server.” 

But then Cotton hedged the statement. 

“All of this, however, may be a moot point, because subsequently, I’ve been able to recover all of those deleted files, and I have access to that data,” he said. 

“That’s some good news, Madame President,” Peterson exclaimed to Fann. 

But Maricopa County was not going to let that point sit. After all, the audit’s own surprisingly aggressive Twitter account recently accused the county of “spoliation of evidence!” due to the purportedly missing directory, angering the board of supervisors and Maricopa County’s recently elected Republican county recorder, Stephen Richer. 

The audit — which is being run by primary contractor “Cyber Ninjas,” the CEO of which pushed wild conspiracy theories and has ties to fringe pro-Trump attorneys like Lin Wood — is currently running significantly behind schedule. In fact, the recount portion of the audit is on pause because the audit’s lease on the coliseum where it was doing the counting ran out last week: This week, the same space is hosting several high school graduations

Logan said Tuesday that he expected the audit to be finished before the end of June, several weeks after it was initially projected to conclude. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, writing to Fann Tuesday, called on the Senate president to end the operation entirely. 

“You certainly must recognize that things are not going well at the Coliseum,” they wrote. “You also must know that the County’s election was free and fair, and that our Elections Department did an outstanding job conducting it.” 

The Twitter account took a similar tone Tuesday. 

Nonetheless, pro-Trump hucksters and true believers have painted the audit as a trailblazing answer to “concerns” from Trump supporters who believe Trump’s second term in office was stolen through massive fraud. 

Fann hinted at the nationwide interest in her efforts Tuesday. 

“This is a whole breaking ground,” she said at the end of the hearing. “I’ve had other senators and senate presidents and speakers from other states that have contacted me, that have said this is an issue that they are struggling with as well. And they’ve said: This is what’s going to lay the groundwork as to, what is the future of how do we audit our elections if need be?”

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