AZ SOS Wants Probe After Records Show 2020 Pressure Campaign From GOP, Trump, Allies

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 6, 2020: Election workers, one Democrat and one Republican, sit side-by-side to adjudicate ballots inside the Maricopa county elections building where a large crowd of pro-Trump supporters ha... PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 6, 2020: Election workers, one Democrat and one Republican, sit side-by-side to adjudicate ballots inside the Maricopa county elections building where a large crowd of pro-Trump supporters have gathered outside in the parking lot to protest election results on November 6, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. If a ballot is ejected from the tabulating scanner because a voter marked a ballot with an X instead of filling in the oval or hand wrote on the ballot the adjudicators look a the ballot and decide the voters intent. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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July 8, 2021 12:50 p.m.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) on Wednesday urged the state’s attorney general to investigate “potential violations of Arizona’s election laws” after public records showed a pressure campaign following Election Day on the leaders of Arizona’s largest county from Trump allies and top GOP officials.

“[W]hat protection exists for officials who fulfill their duties despite threats of political retribution if the person empowered to enforce the law is unwilling to do the same?” Hobbs wrote in a letter to Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R).

The Arizona Republic broke the story late last week, quoting voicemails that showed repeated attempts by Trump to reach one county official over the phone, and text messages from state GOP chair Kelli Ward and others seeking to influence the ballot-counting process.

“We need you to stop the counting,” Ward wrote to Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman (R) just a few days after Election Day, in one of several attempts to influence Hickman and several other members of the county’s Republican-dominated Board of Supervisors. Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, has more recently been the scene of a shambolic “audit” of the 2020 election results, the result of intense political pressure from Trump and others to bolster the myth that his second term was stolen from him.

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As time passed and the supervisors did not comply with her wishes, Ward grew sharper.

“I know the Republican board doesn’t want to be remembered as the entity who led the charge to certify a fraudulent election,” she wrote Supervisor Bill Gates (R) on Nov. 20, the day the board did, in fact, certify the county’s election results. And later that day: “Sounds like your fellow Repubs are throwing in the towel. Very sad. And unAmerican.”

The Republic also reported on attempts by Ward to connect several commissioners to Sidney Powell, the pro-Trump lawyer who spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 vote and is now being sued by Doming Voting Systems. Rudy Giuliani also made an appearance in the report, which quoted voicemails in which he discussed the need for a “forensic audit” of voting machines.

“I really think it’s a shame that Republicans sort of are both in this kind of situation,” Giuliani said in one voicemail to Gates in December. “And I think there may be a nice way to resolve this for everybody.”

“We’re all Republicans, I think we have the same goal,” Giuliani said in a separate voicemail for Supervisor Jack Sellers (R). “Let’s see if we can get this done outside of the court, gosh.”

Hobbs, announced a run for governor last month, asked Brnovich to investigate whether section 16-1004 of Arizona law had been violated. The law states: “A person who at any election knowingly interferes in any manner with an officer of such election in the discharge of the officer’s duty, or who induces an officer of an election or officer whose duty it is to ascertain, announce or declare the result of such election, to violate or refuse to comply with the officer’s duty or any law regulating the election, is guilty of a class 5 felony.”

The secretary of state concluded the letter by quoting Brnovich’s words back to him: “Fair elections are the cornerstone of our republic, and they start with rational laws that protect both the right to vote and the accuracy of the results.”

Brnovich had used those same words just last week, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld two voting restrictions in the state, a decision that could have dire consequences for voting rights around the country.

“I urge you to take action not only to seek justice in this instance, but to prevent future attempts to interfere with the integrity of our elections,” Hobbs added. “If your ethical duties prevent you from investigating this matter, I ask that you refer it to another enforcement agency.

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