Arizona AG: Maricopa County is Breaking The Law
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- Maricopa County is breaking the law by refusing to provide the materials demanded by the state Senate, Attorney General Mark Brnovich concluded Thursday.
In a formal finding, Brnovich concluded that the county is required to comply with Senate subpoenas to provide its routers, which direct computer traffic among computers.
Brnovich said the county also broke the law by failing to provide user names, passwords, PINS and security keys or token to gain access to the tabulation devices used in the 2020 general election.
All those were sought after Cyber Ninjas, the private firm hired by Senate President Karen Fann to review the conduct of the election, said the items were needed to determine whether the equipment was in any way affected by outside forces, including whether the tabulators were connected to the internet at any time.
The attorney general's conclusion is more than an academic exercise: Under Arizona law, a finding by Brnovich that the county government has violated state law means it loses half of its state revenue sharing dollars if it does not come into compliance by Sept. 27.
But don't expect the county to simply hand over the demanded materials -- or accept the loss of revenues. It is likely to exercise its legal right to seek Supreme Court review of Brnovich's conclusion.
Tom Liddy, chief of the civil division of the county attorney's office, already has said the county really cannot comply.
"Providing these routers puts sensitive, confidential data belonging to Maricopa County citizens -- including social security numbers and protected health information -- at risk,'' Liddy wrote. And he pointed out that Sheriff Paul Penzone believes that producing the routers "would render MCSO internal law enforcement communication infrastructure extremely vulnerable to hackers, be they criminal cartels, terrorists, or foreign powers.''
That argument holds no water with Brnovich.
``The subpoenas are, in essence, the equivalent of a court order, requiring production of certain information,'' wrote Assistant Attorney General Beau Roysden on behalf of his boss. ``The county cannot avoid a subpoena based on statutes that require that the materials being subpoenaed be kept confidential.''
Less clear is the demand for the password and security keys.
Liddy said the county doesn't have them, saying they belong to Dominion Voting Systems for its own administrative access to the equipment. He said the county doesn't need them to conduct elections.
Those issues aside, attorney Edward Novak, hired by the county to respond to the complaint, said the county isn't breaking any law even if it didn't produce what the Senate wants.
He pointed out the latest subpoena as issued on July 26, 26 days after the legislature adjourned.
More to the point, Novak that the law cited in the complaint makes a contempt charge the only remedy. But with the legislature not in session, he said, there is no authority to file such charges.
Brnovich, however, said that isn't the case, pointing out the original subpoenas were issued in January. More to the point, he that a trial judge upheld the validity of those subpoenas, concluding that the Senate has the right to what it determines is necessary for its own investigations.
``Assessing electoral integrity, examining potential legislative reforms to the electoral process, confirming the accuracy and efficacy of vote tabulation systems, investigating whether to modify or improve powers delegated to a county, and evaluating the competence of county officials in performing their election duties each constitute a valid legislative purpose,'' Brnovich wrote, quoting from the trial judge.
And he said that is true even if one of the original purposes of subpoenas issued as far back as December were to see if the election results could be challenged.