This article was shared by a TPM member.
Prime Only Members-Only Article

Reporter Kicked Out Of AZ Audit After Photographing Ballot Counter Who Attended Insurrection

Anthony Kern speaks on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. (Screenshot/WPTV)
April 30, 2021 5:54 p.m.

A reporter was kicked out of the Arizona GOP-controlled Senate’s audit of 2020 election results after publishing a photo showing that a former lawmaker who was present at the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was counting ballots. 

Now, the audit’s Twitter account and Senate president are arguing with reporters online, justifying the expulsion of the reporter, Ryan Randazzo of the Arizona Republic. 

Randazzo said he was asked to leave the audit of the results in Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa, after publishing a photo of Anthony Kern, a former member of the Arizona House of Representatives who was in D.C. for the Jan. 6 Trump rally that turned into a riot at the Capitol. 

Ken Bennett, a spokesperson for the audit, told TPM that Kern was working as a “temporary hired employee” for the company doing the hand count of ballots, Wake TSI.

“He’s allowed to get hired by them just like anybody else,” Bennett said of Kern. He denied that Randazzo taking a photo of Kern was the basis for Randazzo’s expulsion. 

Kern spoke at a pro-Trump rally in D.C. on Jan. 5. The far-right activist Ali Alexander introduced Kern as a “friend” at that event and said he was trying to convince Kern to run for state Senate or Congress. 

“I pledge my life, I pledge my fortune, and I pledge my sacred honor, and I put my name out there, as a Republican Arizona state elector for Donald Trump! Four more years! We will not allow the vote to be stolen from our duly-elected president,” Kern said during his speech that day. 

On Jan. 6, a photograph appeared to show Kern — who’d sought to throw out Arizona’s Electoral College votes — wearing a suit and tie on the Capitol steps as the building was being attacked.

The specific reasons for Randazzo’s expulsion Friday vary depending on who’s speaking.

Bennett, the audit spokesperson, told TPM that in taking his photo of Kern, Randazzo “got an image of the ballot. And the judge has explicitly told us that we need to be very careful and not allow the ballot images to be made public. And so the people I have helping me with security and other things asked him to leave, and our attorney backed that up.” 

The audit’s Twitter account also  said Randazzo was expelled because the photo showed a ballot.

But as The Arizona Republic’s Jen Fifield pointed out, reporters didn’t agree to not photograph ballots at all; rather, journalists observing the audit have agreed not to publish pictures showing discernible ballot information. 

Randazzo himself forwarded TPM a statement that the Arizona Republic and other media outlets agreed to in order to gain access to the proceedings. The statement specified that reporters “have agreed to withhold visuals that detail any identifiable ballot information. As part of the reporting on this election audit, our cameras may show the faces of people involved in both the counting and observing process.” 

On her Twitter account, Senate President Karen Fann claimed that an attorney for media organizations, “gave us his commitment the media would not dox the workers for their safety.” 

The definition of doxxing can be fluid, but generally it refers to publishing private or otherwise identifying information of individuals. 

It wasn’t clear who Fann believed Randazzo had doxxed. “[Y]ou may argue Kern is public figure but why did ABC 15 take zoom in closeups of workers FACES?” she wrote in response to a Twitter user questioning the journalist’s expulsion. 

The audit has been burdened from the start with legal challenges, bumbling logistics and financing by right-wing conspiracy theorists.

To read more member exclusives, join today and save 30% on an annual Prime membership
view all options
Latest Member Exclusives
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: