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Townsend issued election subpoena because she was 'tired of waiting' for the Arizona AG to act

A Republican senator subpoenaing the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for election-related records said she did so because she was tired of waiting for Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office to take action. 

Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Apache Junction, issued a subpoena Monday ordering the supervisors to turn over records requested in a recent letter by the head of the attorney general’s Election Integrity Unit as part of its investigation into the widely discredited “audit” that Senate President Karen Fann commissioned into the 2020 election in Maricopa County. The subpoena stated that Townsend, who chairs the Senate Government Committee, would provide the records to the attorney general. 

The subpoena also orders the supervisors to appear before the Government Committee on March 28. 

“I have grown tired of waiting for the attorney general to compel (the records) and decided to do it myself,” Townsend told the Arizona Mirror.

Katie Conner, a spokeswoman for Brnovich, said the office learned of Townsend’s subpoena through media coverage.

In her March 9 letter to the county, Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright said some of the documents and information she was requesting was related to the alleged findings of a recent investigation by Shiva Ayyadurai, whom the “audit” team hired to evaluate voters’ signatures on early ballot affidavits. Election officials compare affidavit signatures to the signatures in voter registration records to authenticate a voter’s early ballots before counting them. 

However, Wright noted that Ayyadurai, by his own admission, used the wrong signatures for comparison. He acknowledged that he didn’t have access to the signatures used by election officials for their comparisons, and said he instead used signatures from other documents, such as deeds, that he found on the Maricopa County Recorder’s website. 

The study that Wright cited wasn’t part of the official “audit.” He said he conducted that study on his own, using records and data provided by a member of the election review team. His report from the “audit” was full of false, inaccurate and misleading statements, and he indicated a lack of basic knowledge of many of the policies and procedures that Maricopa County uses for signature verification. 

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Bill Gates, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, noted in a press statement on Tuesday that Townsend also cited Ayyadurai’s “discredited” work as a basis for her new subpoena. 

“Given the number of false and misleading claims issued in EchoMail’s September 2021 report to the Senate, it’s not surprising this more recent report also uses faulty analysis to draw the conclusions Ayyadurai desires,” Gates said, referring to Ayyadurai’s company.

Gates disputed Wright’s accusation that her letter was her third request for records that the county hadn’t provided. He said the recent letter arrived while the county was focused on processing the results of Tempe’s recent municipal election, and that the records will be provided to the attorney general “in a reasonable period of time as prescribed by Arizona law.”

“Given the volume of correspondence between investigators and the County, it doesn’t take a letter, much less a subpoena to gather public information. A phone call is an effective form of communication,” Gates said. 

Asked why the Attorney General’s Office was investigating Ayyadurai’s claims, given the lack of credibility in both of his studies, Conner told the Mirror that it would be “inaccurate to insinuate that our office is merely copying the work of another individual.”

“As a prosecutorial agency, we deal in facts and evidence not rumors or gossip,” Conner said. She said the office couldn’t comment further on the investigation.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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