Former secretary of state Ken Bennett, a Republican, said he was “shocked” when he was not allowed into the building last Friday where the Maricopa County audit — which he is charged with overseeing — was taking place.
Bennett said Monday that he was frozen out after he expressed several concerns about the operation, including what appeared to be sloppy and inconsistent spreadsheet tallies of votes. He called the issue “just the tip of the iceberg” of problems.
“The reason that I am that close to stepping down as liaison is that I cannot be a part of a process [when] I am kept out of critical aspects along the way that make the audit legitimate and have integrity when we produce the final report,” Bennett said on “The Conservative Circus” program on KFYI-550 radio.
Top Maricopa County election official Stephen Richer pounced on the implosion as yet more evidence that the Ninjas’ recount is a total sham. He tweeted that Bennett had been “kicked out” because recount figures from another audit arranged by the Senate and leaked to the press matched the official record, not the Ninjas’ numbers (which haven’t been released publicly). Now “the adult has left the room,” Richer taunted.
Bennett insisted the recount isn’t supposed to be aimed at overturning the election that handed Joe Biden a presidential victory. “This is about election integrity,” he said on KFYI. “But election integrity is not about if Donald Trump won the election. Election integrity is about: Did we do the election right?”
The partisan vote audit has been hugely controversial. Among multiple questionable practices, the Ninjas have exposed ballots to infrared light in a confounding hunt for “bamboo fibers,” which organizers claim would prove Chinese interference. Last month, copies of voter data were spirited out of Phoenix and taken to an isolated cabin in Montana, some 1,300 miles away.
Critics say the operation hasn’t turned up a shred of evidence of Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election was rigged and that the company is stalling for time and desperately grasping at anything to justify the multimillion-dollar operation.
Although Biden beat his rival by more than 2 percentage points ― about 45,000 votes ― in Maricopa County, Trump claims the Cyber Ninjas’ recount results will help put him back in the White House. He lied yet again at his rally Saturday in Phoenix that the Arizona vote was rigged.
A court earlier this month rejected arguments from the state Senate as to why it shouldn’t turn over “any and all” records, including communications, planning, procedures, and funding sources for the partisan audit.
“The court completely rejects Senate defendants’ argument that since [Cyber Ninjas] and the subvendors are not ‘public bodies’ they are exempt” from the public records law, ruled Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp.
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