An Arizona Republican who heads up the county elections department that is the target of a GOP audit of the 2020 election results condemned former president Donald Trump for continuing to push false claims of electoral fraud months after his defeat and called his recent comments “unhinged.”
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer on Saturday called on Republicans to stop supporting Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud and slammed the former president for falsely accusing Maricopa County of deleting an elections database.
“This is unhinged,” Richer tweeted, adding that he was “literally looking at our voter registration database. Right now. We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country.”
Richer’s comments reflect the escalating tensions over what Republicans in Arizona’s largest county see as a controversial election review commissioned by the GOP-led state Senate. After using a legislative subpoena to seize Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots as well as its voting machines, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, R, has pushed for the county supervisors to come to the chamber to answer questions from the private auditors she has hired to conduct the review.
Jack Sellers, R, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, declared that the recount of the 2020 election results in the state’s largest county was becoming “dangerous.”
“This is not funny,” he wrote in a statement Thursday.
Maricopa County officials and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey have repeatedly certified Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election. He was the first Democrat in nearly 25 years to win the state. But that hasn’t stopped the auditors – led by a Florida firm whose founder has promoted baseless claims of election fraud – from continuing a review that has raised concerns from the Justice Department about whether the partisan audit is violating federal law.
In a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors last week, Fann alleged not only that officials had deleted files from a server but also that the county had not turned over forensic images of routers used for the election. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, D, criticized such a request, saying that handing over access to sensitive law enforcement information to the state Senate and Cyber Ninjas, one of the firms hired by Fann for the audit, would be “mind-numbingly reckless and irresponsible.”
Nevertheless, Fann’s letter got Trump’s attention, and he called the allegations she presented without evidence as “devastating.”
Before his tweets Saturday, Richer, who became recorder in January after defeating a Democratic incumbent, was outspoken about his disgust over Republicans continuing to rally around Trump’s false election claims.
“Enough with the defamation. Enough with the unfounded allegations,” Richer tweeted Thursday. “I came to this office to competently, fairly, and lawfully administer the duties of the office. Not to be accused by own party of shredding ballots and deleting files for an election I didn’t run. Enough.”
His sentiment was shared by Sellers, who rebuked Cyber Ninjas in several tweets. The chairman has said that the auditors “are in way over their heads.”
The Twitter account for Maricopa County tweeted that the board will hold a public meeting Monday. The account quoted Sellers, who said the meeting would be held “to refute lies and lay out facts about these issues,” in hope of quelling some of the widening divide among Republicans in the state.
“I know you all have grown weary of lies and half-truths six months after 2020 General Elections,” he said.
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The Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.