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Arizona GOP senators want voting materials to turn over to Trump team, lawyer charges
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Arizona GOP senators want voting materials to turn over to Trump team, lawyer charges

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PHOENIX — Maricopa County’s attorney is accusing Republican state senators of demanding access to voting equipment and records to turn them over to a lawyer for President Trump.

At a hearing Monday, Steve Tully, attorney for the county, pointed out that Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, sent out a Twitter message last month saying the materials sought by the Senate were going to be given to Rudy Giuliani.

Tully said those would include ballots and passwords and other materials in the two subpoenas issued by Senate President Karen Fann and Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Giuliani, in turn, is quoted as saying he wants to “start forensically examining the voting machines in Arizona,” part of his efforts to question Joe Biden’s victory and deny the Democrat Arizona’s 11 electoral votes.

Tully told a Maricopa County judge that if that is the plan, it provides another reason for his client to refuse to turn over the requested information. He said it would violate both the state and federal constitutions and be an “improper legislative purpose.”

He also said the county has questions about whether the review the senators want of the equipment and voting materials will be conducted by people who are legally certified.

But attorney Kory Langhofer, who is representing the senators, told Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason to ignore those objections as “legally irrelevant.”

“That is not the county’s concern,” he said.

Langhofer said the only issue for the judge to decide is whether the Legislature is entitled to demand the documents and whether Thomason will enforce that subpoena.

What happens once the materials are in the hands of lawmakers — lawfully, Langhofer contends — is strictly a legislative concern, he said.

Farnsworth, who was not at Monday’s hearing, later told Capitol Media Services that the whole purpose of the subpoenas is so legislators, who he said have absolute authority over elections, can examine the materials and determine if the results reported were accurate.

He also said what lawmakers learn from their review could form the basis for proposed changes in state laws on how future elections are conducted.

“This issue that’s in court is not being coordinated at all with anybody on the outside, AZGOP, the Trump campaign or anyone else,” Farnsworth said.

But the senator acknowledged that the Trump campaign — and in fact, everyone else — will be entitled to whatever final report is issued by his committee, as that likely will be a public record.

It won’t, however, be Farnsworth who presides over issuing that report.

His term as a legislator ends at noon this coming Monday. At that point, current Rep. Warren Petersen moves to the Senate and becomes chair of the Judiciary Committee.

And Thomason has scheduled the next hearing for the middle of next week.

But even with a revamped panel, the legal fight over the Legislature’s access remains.

The subpoenas issued last month demand access to copies of all of the early ballots cast in Maricopa County in the Nov. 3 general election, and for access to the equipment used to tabulate those ballots and the software that runs the equipment.

The county chose to sue rather than comply amid stated concerns that what was being demanded would expose private information on voters. They also raised questions about whether the county has the legal right to give that information to outsiders.

On Monday, Langhofer told Thomason: “This lawsuit is an effort to delay compliance with a validly issued subpoena.” He said Tully wants another week to respond to the legal briefs.

“Meanwhile, they know the clock is ticking,” Langhofer said. He said Tully, a former lawmaker himself, is aware that the new legislative session begins Monday and that there already are multiple bills filed seeking to make changes in election laws and procedures.

On top of that is the fact that Congress meets on Wednesday, Jan. 6, to count the electoral votes with the threat by some federal lawmakers of not including the votes from Arizona amid questions of accuracy.

Thomason said he is aware of the time constraints. But he also said Tully is entitled to time not only to respond to the Senate’s latest filings but also to efforts by other parties to intervene in the case.

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