An Arizona appeals court has ordered that all records held by the Cyber Ninjas company in its partisan audit of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million votes in the 2020 election are “public” and “must be disclosed.”
The fact that Cybers Ninjas — the lead contractor in the GOP-controlled state Senate’s election audit — is a private company cannot be used to subvert the public records law, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
The Senate agreed to turn over records in its possession to a watchdog group that demanded them, but argued it didn’t have to provide records hoarded by Cyber Ninjas because the company was not subject to the state public records law.
But the appeals court ruled that the Senate, “as officers and a public body under the (records law), have a duty to maintain and produce public records related to their official duties.”
That “includes the public records created in connection with the audit of a separate governmental agency, authorized by the legislative branch of state government and performed by the Senate’s agents,” the opinion said. “The requested records are no less public records simply because they are in the possession of a third party, Cyber Ninjas.”
Austin Evers, executive director of the nonprofit American Oversight, which sued for the audit records, hailed the decision.
“The Senate has taken radical positions to obstruct basic public access to information about its so-called audit,” Evers said in a statement. “It has tried to get away with outsourcing the audit to a third party, and argued that the public has no right to enforce transparency laws against them. Their arguments reflect a disdain for accountability. Fortunately the law is not on their side.”
The ruling is expected to shed more light on the crackpot vote audit. The hugely controversial recount by Cyber Ninjas has been headed by a QAnon acolyte who predicted months before it began that “hundreds of thousand of votes” would inevitably be found for Donald Trump.
Ballots have been bizarrely examined for traces of bamboo in a bid to prove the Chinese hacked the votes. And truckloads of voter data were spirited away to a cabin in Montana woods, 1,300 miles from where votes were cast.
The audit was supposed to be finished in mid-May, but no report has yet been issued, leading to speculation that nothing was discovered to support Senate Republicans’ conjecture about a rigged election.
The Arizona vote was certified nearly nine months ago by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey after several official recounts failed to find any irregularities. Joe Biden beat Trump by 10,457 votes in the state. He edged out Trump by more than 2 percentage points ― about 45,000 votes ― in Maricopa County.
State Senate President Republican Karen Fann said Thursday the Senate will appeal the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court, The Arizona Republic reported. “We have nothing to hide,” Fann asserted.