The Daily Agenda: Hopefully the last audit roundup
We break down the audit hearing fallout ... COVID-19 is still spreading ... And politicians are still spinning.
The fact-checkers have debunked a multitude of claims auditors threw out at Friday’s hearing, but don’t expect that to change the minds of audit stooges like Wendy Rogers, who is still calling for lawmakers to decertify the election, and Paul Gosar, who wants a redo of the election.
It’s worth noting that even bullshit-spreaders like Doug Logan, Ben Cotton and “Dr. Shiva” didn’t call for decertification of the election — in fact, never once in Friday’s presentation did anyone say the election was a fraud, rigged, or stolen. We know because we were listening real hard for our bingo phrases.
But the hearing wasn’t a total loss. Gov. Doug Ducey declared the election that he certified nine months ago finally over and said he won’t call a special session for lawmakers to address whatever fantastical ploy they have to reinstate Donald Trump.
Doug Ducey @dougduceyI’ve been pretty outspoken about Arizona’s election system, and bragged about it quite a bit, including in the Oval Office. And for good reason. 1/
For an audit that was meant to instill confidence in the voters who thought something nefarious might have happened in the 2020 election, it sure riled up a lot of conspiracists. It ended not with proof of fraud, or answers to questions, but with a long list of “anomalies” (code for things the election auditors — who have no experience in election or audits — didn’t understand about the election process) and more questions.
We do not envy Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who now has the impossible task of bringing charges from a report that alleges no crimes or facing the wrath of the Trumpian right in his U.S. Senate bid.
Another thing auditors apparently didn’t understand: Their draft reports would become public. As 12 News’ Brahm Resnik noted, the draft declared the canvassing effort that was definitely not done by auditors, because auditors promised the U.S Department of Justice they wouldn’t, was officially part of the audit.
Of course, assuring voters that the election was on the up-and-up was never really the goal, the Republic’s Robert Anglen and Jen Fifield remind us.
In fact, the audit was such a colossal failure that Supervisor Clint Hickman called on AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward to resign, saying, “She has now led us to a part where our former president has lost publicly the Arizona vote again to Joe Biden.”
Not to be deterred by her inability to find auditors willing to stand before the Senate and claim nonexistent fraud, failed audit leader and Senate President Karen Fann would rather continue talking about the audit than real problems.
Fann plans a round of hearings with her new Special Committee on Election Audit, the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl and Ray Stern report. The committee has no real power during the interim, but will allow the great minds of the Senate Government Committee to come up with new ways to stop the steal.
That is, unless the lawsuit alleging the legislature’s sausage-making process illegally snuck a host of non-budget provisions in the budget is successful.
Still, Fann and her team can’t seem to find the time to fulfil all those records requests that the courts have ordered them to deliver, and American Oversight is asking the court to hold Fann and the Senate in contempt. And let’s not forget that auditors have been too busy to respond to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee’s questions about the audit.
Perhaps former Dem face of the audit John Brakey, a longtime crusader against fictitious fraud, summarized the audit report best:
"It is a hell of a grift," Brakey said of the audit.
A pink slip bonanza: Ducey fired and replaced the entire membership of the State Board of Massage Therapy after an investigation by the Republic’s Anne Ryman found a pattern of misconduct by massage therapists that didn’t result in action by the board. Three of the five new board members have backgrounds in helping people experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
We’re sure this will do the trick: The Republic made the rare move of running an editorial on the front page on Sunday, the prime spot on the biggest paper day of the week. The editorial board called for Ducey to give local school boards the ability to institute masking and other COVID-19 mitigation policies, noting strained hospitals and the need for better vaccination rates. The law that banned school mask mandates is set to go into effect on Sept. 29.
In related news: Researchers at Arizona State University found that Arizona school districts without mask requirements in place were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks than schools that have mask mandates.
In more related news: Arizona children who contracted COVID-19 are struggling to recover, in some cases, as the mental strain of masking in schools and politicization of the virus takes a toll as well, reports the Republic’s Stephanie Innes.
What’s the track record on these splashy lawsuits?: Brnovich told the Washington Examiner that his lawsuits on issues like election integrity, vaccine mandates and border issues aren’t an attempt to get his name out there as he challenges U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly. Instead, he’s standing up to Democrats.
“If we don’t have this fight now, I don’t want to look back 25 or 50 years from now and have people ask, ‘What did you do when the United States was becoming a socialist or Marxist country?' I want to be able to say, ‘I stopped it,’” Brnovich told the Washington Examiner.
The spin cycle continues: ABC 15’s Dave Biscobing finally got a (brief) interview with Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel, whose office he has been doggedly covering. But she wouldn’t answer questions about the protesters charged as gang members, citing ongoing lawsuits on the matter. And she asked Biscobing to work together with her office to help inform people about peaceful protesters. Biscobing quickly shut her attempt at spin down.
A politician doing a political stunt: Robert Robb, the Republic’s conservative columnist, called Ducey’s request for a meeting with President Joe Biden and the 26 Republican governors a “political stunt.” There’s no reason Biden would meet solely with GOP governors, and it makes more sense to have a meeting with governors of southern border states anyway, Robb said.
Uncompassionate conservatism: Republican U.S. Senate candidates Blake Masters and Jim Lamon say they don’t want to see Afghan refugees resettled in the U.S., contrary to messaging from Ducey and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who said they welcome them in Arizona, the Capitol Times’ Nathan Brown reports. More than 1,600 Afghan refugees are already set to come to Arizona in the coming months.
First it was toilet paper, now it’s this: Tempe’s streetcar line won’t open until spring 2022 now. Valley Metro can’t get its hands on three of the six streetcars it needs because of supply chain issues, KJZZ’s Vaughan Jones reports.
Schools, but very small: Charter chain Great Hearts will open its own “microschools” to help online students with social opportunities, KJZZ’s Rocío Hernández reports.
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Arizona now recognizes Sept. 25, which was Saturday, as Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Celebration Day. The day honors the swearing-in as the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. Ducey signed a bill in 2020 recognizing the day, which says it will be celebrated in public schools on the following school day when it falls on a weekend. For last year’s day, some schools discussed public service, civic engagement and the Constitution.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake ran away from hecklers at an anti-vax/pro-audit rally at the Arizona Capitol on Friday. The event organizers with the Patriot Party of Arizona wanted speakers to sign a “contract” saying they support the group and that they support voting on one day without any voting machines and making unvaccinated a protected class, according to the Republic’s BrieAnna Frank. Lake didn’t sign the contract, and members of the crowd heckled her for it once she started speaking. She said she wouldn’t sign it without reading it (some in the crowd claimed she had seen it before, but hadn’t signed). “There are no celebrities! She wants to work for me!” one person shouted. Lake told the group she wasn’t afraid of “bullies” then quickly scurried off to her car.
Lawmakers and candidates for public office can attend an AZGOP public speaking class with help from Toastmasters trainers tonight at 6 p.m. Former Republican Rep. Jill Norgaard is the contact for the event at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake will speak about civic engagement in the digital age at a University of Arizona virtual event at 6 p.m today.