UPDATE, 5/10 at 3:30pm: Judge Kemp today granted the AZGOP's motion to dismiss the case. "Whether or not any chicanery took place in the voting process on January 23, this Court finds that it does not have judicial authority to intervene in an inter-party dispute...." Another lawsuit seeking to review all of the election documents and materials is still pending. The 3-page Minute Entry dismissing the case is published below.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: "NEW: AZGOP "Fundamentally Dishonest" About Results Of Yesterday's Audit/Inspection; No Attorney Disqualification"
While most eyes continue to be focused on the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the swirling news around the recount/audit being conducted by the State Senate/Cyber Ninjas, plenty was happening in the ironic intramural clash roiling the Arizona GOP over its (state-mandated) party reorganization election.
The rebellion began immediately following the results of that January meeting, in which Kelli Ward was relected as the Chairperson. The lawsuits focus on that and two of the other races for seats on the state committee - Sandra Dowling (former long-time Maricopa County School Superintendent) was first announced has having won before it was changed and Bill Beard lost a southern Arizona (CD2) seat.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Mike Kemp refused to allow the AZGOP to force attorney Tim LaSota from representing the plaintiffs and has taken the AZGOP's Motion to Dismiss under consideration after oral arguments. LaSota has represented the state party in other matters, and the judge admonished him to "not use any information relating to his prior representation that would disadvantage Defendants in any way."
Friday, a group met at attorney Jack Wilenchik's (representing the AZGOP in this case) office to inspect the ballots and other records. More concerning than the small discrepancies between the number of ballots and the reported totals, according to the plaintiffs' supporters, were a large pile of completed ballots which were found together with blank ballots.
Further frustrating the plaintiffs was that the inspection did not include other integral documents which could validate - or, invalidate - the election results. Jeremi Hale, a career auditor and state committeeman who was at both the January meeting and yesterday's inspection, described those missing items: "There were no credential reports or other crucial evidentiary artifacts to validate the ballots they gave us were complete or reflected total eligible votes."
The AZGOP declared the inspection "a win" in an email to party members, with state committeeman Constantin Querard declaring that "fundamentally dishonest".
In a statement to Arizona's Law/Arizona's Politics, Querard - who was present for yesterday's inspection - bluntly explained the frustration and irony of the situation:
I can't know for sure why they limited it, but I know that when the Maricopa County authorities or Democrats try to limit or stop audits the GOP wants of the November election, the AZGOP's position is that they are afraid, they're hiding something, they did something wrong, they cheated/stole, etc... Do we apply the AZGOP's rhetoric to the AZGOP when it does the same thing? Feels kind of harsh, so I'd generally want to avoid it. But things were not done very well from what we were allowed to see, the counts were off compared to the number of ballots cast, and the Party is refusing to allow anyone to see any of the usual documents (credentials, sign-in sheets, proxies, etc.). Why is anyone's guess, but if they did a great job and ran an accurate election, there would be no reason to spend big $ fighting in court to prevent people from being able to prove they ran an accurate election, right?
Two court cases are still proceeding, and if Ward and her folks manage to short circuit the meeting that had been called by the State Committeemen, I'm sure another call will result. Sooner or later the Party will do things right. Hopefully sooner, so we can move on past this. (emphasis added)
Hale also notes that although the ballots cast number was three off in CD2 (Beard) and that was the exact number he lost by, it does not constitute proof that the election was intentionally tampered with, but it is another point of concern.
The AZGOP again urged the plaintiffs to "drop the nonsense" so that the Party can "remain focused on our sole mission: to elect Republicans and defeat Democrats." Meanwhile, Ward and the AZGOP twitter account remained focused on what she calls "America's Audit" (even though the stated purpose is to improve election laws).