Republicans in the Arizona Legislature last week stripped controversial Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs of powers related to election lawsuits, shifting the power instead to the state’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
“The Republican-controlled State Legislature in Arizona voted Thursday to revoke the Democratic secretary of state’s legal authority in election-related lawsuits, handing that power instead to the Republican attorney general,” The New York Times reported.
The measure “shifted exclusive control over election lawsuits from Hobbs to Brnovich “but only through Jan. 2, 2023 — when the winners of the next elections for both offices would be about to take power,” the Times noted. “The aim is to ensure that the authority given to [Brnovich] would not transfer to any Democrat who won the next race for attorney general.”
“Basically, Arizona Republicans are moving to temporarily transfer this authority from a Democrat to a Republican for one election cycle only (at which point they could seemingly decide, depending upon who controls each office, who should be in charge of this),” The Washington Post analyzed.
Hobbs notably likened Trump supporters to “neo-Nazis” in 2017, before she took her position as secretary of state.
“[Donald Trump] has made it abundantly clear he’s more interested in pandering to his neo-nazi base than being [President of the United States] for all Americans,” she wrote via Twitter.
Hobbs has also routinely pushed-back against the Republican-led 2020 presidential election audit. The Democrat reportedly sparked a letter sent in May from the Biden Department of Justice attempting to stop the audit.
Hobbs thinks the DOJ “is at a place where they don’t think they legally can send in observers,” she told the Post at the time. “But they’re certainly paying attention to what’s going on.”
Pamela S. Karlan, who heads the DOJ’s civil rights division and authored the letter, suggested “that the recount of nearly 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County by a private contractor may not comply with federal law, which requires that ballots be securely maintained for 22 months following a federal election,” the Post reported.
“We have a concern that Maricopa County election records, which are required by federal law to be retained and preserved, are no longer under the ultimate control of elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors, and are at risk of damage or loss,” Karlan wrote.
Senate Republicans and the GOP-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors disagreed about the accessibility of the ballots; the Senate wanted to perform an audit to address election integrity concerns from constituents, whereas the board argued the ballots, by law, were to be kept secret for 24 months following the election. The judge scolded the parties for failing to come to an agreement on their own but sided with the Senate, suggesting the law in question does not conflict with the subpoenas.
“There is no question that the Senators have the power to issue legislative subpoenas,” Judge Thomason wrote at the time, according to The Associated Press. “The Subpoenas comply with the statutory requirements for legislative subpoenas. The Senate also has broad constitutional power to oversee elections.”
“The Arizona legislature clearly has the power to investigate and examine election reform matters,” the ruling said. “The Subpoenas also do not violate separation of powers principles. Production of the subpoenaed materials would not violate confidentiality laws.”