Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office has asked Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for potential evidence of illegal voting — a move that counters her request that he investigate a pressure campaign by former President Donald Trump’s allies to “stop the counting” last year.
The attorney general’s email response pointedly notes that Hobbs, a Democrat, hasn’t submitted referrals for double voting. It marks the first time in more than a decade a secretary of state has not done so.
The Hobbs administration is waiting for a report from a national organization that works with states across the nation to help identify potential incidents of double voting, a spokesperson for Hobbs said Friday.
The email, sent Wednesday to the Secretary of State’s Office and obtained Friday by The Arizona Republic, was sent by Jennifer Wright, an assistant attorney general who focuses on Brnovich’s election integrity unit.
The correspondence marks the first public sign that Brnovich, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, intends to examine public records in the aftermath of The Republic’s reporting, which first detailed the pressure campaign.
The Republic found Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, repeatedly reached out to Maricopa County officials to try to influence the election outcome.
In a letter to Brnovich last week, Hobbs, a Democrat running for governor, said some of the communications The Republic reported on “involve clear efforts to induce supervisors to refuse to comply with their duties.” Her office obtained the same records the newspaper reviewed after obtaining them through a public-records request and offered to send them to Brnovich’s office.
A spokeswoman for Hobbs said the secretary of state was sending the records to the Attorney General’s Office on Friday.
A spokesman for Brnovich declined to comment on the email to Hobbs. The agency typically does not confirm or deny investigations.
“The (attorney general) has not received any information from your office regarding potential double voting in the 2018 or 2020 election,” Wright wrote in her email, adding that it hasn’t happened since Hobbs withdrew from a program intended to ensure proper voting. “Notably, this is the first time in over a decade the AGO has received no referrals from the Secretary of State regarding double voting.”
Wright added, “Additionally, please provide any and all records your office possesses related to potential violations of Arizona’s election laws,” a reference to the pressure campaign.
The pressure from Trump’s allies focused intensely on Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman, a lifelong Republican who had been supportive of Trump’s presidential reelection campaign.
At the time, Hickman chaired the five-member Republican-controlled board, which oversees elections in the state’s most populous county. He let two phone calls from the White House switchboard, which sought to connect him to Trump, go to voicemail.
Text messages and voicemails obtained by The Republic show multipronged attempts by Ward to halt Trump’s impending loss to President Joe Biden in Arizona.
She tried to get the supervisors “to stop the counting,” delay certifying the results and to look into whether voting software added votes for Democrats, among other things.
Ward has not responded to The Republic’s repeated efforts to reach her about the communications. On Twitter, she wrote in response to a story about her communications: “BS.”
Later, she wrote, “No one can ever say that I am not doing everything I can to assure #ElectionIntegrity. And I always will! #ProudAmerican.”
Brnovich has faced criticism from Trump for not vocally backing the ongoing ballot review ordered by the state’s Senate. For his part, Brnovich has sought to clamp down on illegal voting, especially at a time when many Republicans see election integrity as a remedy to what they view as a presidential election tainted by widespread fraud.
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