PHOENIX — The “audit” doesn’t end it.
Arizona Republicans’ campaign to discredit the 2020 presidential vote in Maricopa County is far from over.
The findings delivered Friday in the state Senate are just the jumping off point for more questions, investigations and possible legislation that would change the laws governing the 2022 vote.
Senate Republicans’ lead contractor for the review, Cyber Ninjas’ Doug Logan, still has unfinished business with state and federal authorities.
Arizona taxpayers will also be picking up more bills for an election review that has cost them at least $3.5 million, according to Senate and county documents, as well as news reports.
The total cost of the review is more than $10.5 million, when adding in fund-raising by Trump allies that was reported by Cyber Ninjas in July. The donors to those Trump-linked groups haven’t been disclosed.
Experts: Findings reflect lack of knowledge
The five-month election review was largely run and financed by individuals and organizations that have promoted, without any evidence, the lie that last November’s presidential vote in Arizona was stolen from President Donald Trump.
According to elections experts, the findings released Friday reflect a lack of understanding about how Maricopa County elections are run.
None of the contractors working on the election review, including lead contractor Logan, had ever handled an election review before.
Joe Biden was the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Maricopa County in 72 years. The election review’s hand recount of all 2.1 million county ballots came up with the vote totals that virtually mirrored the November results.
Here’s what we know about what comes next:
Hearings and legislation on tap
Senate Republicans’ plans for the election review included spinning the results forward to change election laws in time for the 2022 mid-term elections.
The Senate is likely to hold committee hearings and possibly recommend legislation before the Legislature gets back to work in January.
Two committees could take up the work. One is more favorable to Republican hardliners.
Back in June, while the hand recount was still going on at the State Fairgrounds, the Legislature passed a bill creating a “special committee on the election audit” - the Senate Government Committee, chaired by state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita of Scottsdale.
Ugenti-Rita, a candidate for secretary of state, has said the election review was “botched.”
The law creating the special committee takes effect Wednesday. But the law is being challenged in court. A ruling is expected any day.
Fann has said the Senate Judiciary Committee will also play a role.
That committee is chaired by Sen. Warren Petersen of Gilbert, who issued the subpoenas for Maricopa County’s election materials and worked alongside Fann on the election review.
All five Republicans on the eight-member committee have questioned Biden’s victory.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted Friday that any recommended legislation would have to wait until the Legislature’s regular session in January.
Republican AG eager to investigate
Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced his investigation of the election review’s findings based on draft reports leaked to the media Thursday.
“I will take all necessary actions that are supported by the evidence and where I have legal authority,” Brnovich, who’s running in a crowded Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, said in a statement Friday.
Fann forwarded the election review findings to Brnovich with a cover letter that declared: “In the history of democracies - from ancient Athens until today - ours was the most detailed, demanding and uncompromising election audit that has ever been conducted.”
Fann’s letter doesn’t allege any specific crimes, so it’s unclear what Brnovich might investigate.
On another election front, Brnovich has been mum about his investigation of a pressure campaign by Trump and his allies, including Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, to influence the Maricopa County ballot count and results.
The campaign is detailed in text messages and voice mails that were first reported by the Arizona Republic.
Remember the routers?
Two weeks ago, Maricopa County cut a deal with Senate Republicans that ended a standoff over the GOP demand for access to the county’s computer network routers.
The routers were the subject of intense speculation by election conspiracy theorists. They believed an examination of the routers would confirm that outside entities somehow gained access to the county’s computer system.
Under the deal, former Republican Congressman John Shadegg was named a “special master” to oversee independent computer experts, who will answer Senate Republicans' questions about the routers.
It’s unclear when this work will begin or how much it will cost taxpayers.
The county has agreed to pay for the router exam. As of late last week, according to a county spokesman, a contract with Shadegg detailing the cost of the work had not been signed.
Ed Novak, of the law firm Polsinelli, helped negotiate the deal with the Senate GOP, 12 News has learned. Shadegg formerly worked at Polsinelli.
Logan’s unfinished legal business
Cyber Ninjas' Doug Logan has put off complying with a court order to turn over review-related documents, citing its pressing work on the election review.
A watchdog group wants a judge to hold Fann in contempt for failing to turn over the Cyber Ninjas documents the Senate has in its possession.
This case appears to be far from over.
House committee waiting on Logan
Logan has also refused to comply with document requests from the Democratic-controlled U.S. House Oversight Committee.
The committee has given him until Thursday to say whether he will voluntarily appear at a hearing on Oct. 7 to speak on Cyber Ninjas’ role in the election review.
Will DOJ come knocking?
The U.S. Department of Justice had warned Fann back in May not to engage in door-to-canvassing to question voters.
Cyber Ninjas had listed canvassing in specific precincts as one of its methods for investigating the election results.
The election review's draft report leaked to the media on Thursday shows Logan relied on the work of a canvasser. But all mentions of the canvasser were deleted in final reports released Friday.
Will this be Logan’s next legal fight?
Republican vs Republican
The election review gave us a preview of the intraparty battle among Republicans that could play out heading into the 2022 elections.
Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, a lifelong Republican, has emerged as the leading voice among a very small number of GOP elected officials who have publicly taken on the promoters of election lies.
Before the findings were released Friday, Gates tweeted his support for board colleague Clint Hickman’s call for GOP Chair Ward to step down.
Ward responded Friday with a nod to the QAnon infatuation with alleged pedophilia:
In an interview Monday on CNN, Gates conceded Ward was unlikely to listen:
“How likely do I think that is? Well, probably not too likely. But it's time for the Republican elected officials like myself to stand up and say enough is enough.”
Maricopa County election audit
See the latest news from the Arizona Senate GOP's review for the 2020 election in Maricopa County on our 12 News YouTube playlist here.