The top elections official in Arizona has urged the state’s attorney general to open a criminal investigation into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies last year to halt or overturn the state’s counting of ballots from the 2020 election.
Katie Hobbs, whose position is the second-highest ranking executive job in the state, urged Attorney General Mark Brnovich in an email on Wednesday to investigate revelations that Mr Trump and his former attorney, Rudy Giuliani, made multiple attempts to get in contact with members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors as they oversaw the count of ballots in the state’s most populous county, which went for Joe Biden.
Their efforts were revealed in an investigation by The Arizona Republic, which uncovered that the two men made multiple attempts to personally get in contact with the county-level officials in charge of counting ballots and certifying election results for part of the state. Those officials were also contacted by Dr Kelli Ward, the state’s GOP chair, who urged them in texts to stop counting ballots, according to the Republic.
In her letter to Mr Brnovich, Ms Hobbs noted that anyone who “induces an officer… to violate or refuse to comply with the officer’s duty” is guilty of a felony under state law.
“I urge you to take action not only to seek justice in this instance, but to prevent future attempts to interfere with the integrity of our elections,” Ms Hobbs wrote.
Mr Brnovich’s office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Independent or other news outlets on whether his office would pursue an investigation into the efforts by the White House and state Republicans to interfere with the process.
Ms Hobbs, a Democrat, emerged as a top opponent of the GOP’s efforts to overturn election results in her state last year and has been a vocal critic of the GOP-sponsored third-party audit of Maricopa County’s vote count. Members of the GOP-led county Board of Supervisors have also criticized the effort, which has been called a fruitless attempt to overturn Mr Trump’s loss in the state.
Following her election to the office, Republican lawmakers in the state moved to strip her of the power to defend state election laws in court, which she called an unconstitutional power grab.
“This is a petty, partisan power grab that is absolutely retaliation towards my office,” she told NPR. “It’s clear by the fact that it ends when my term ends. … It is at best legally questionable, but at worst, likely unconstitutional.”
Mr Trump has reportedly kept a close eye on the Arizona audit while spreading false claims to supporters that he could be reinstated as president, though there is no mechanism to do so and no evidence presented thus far indicating that widespread fraud occurred in Arizona or any other state.
The president’s own attorney general and cybersecurity experts said last year that widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election had not been detected in any way that would have significantly affected results, though Mr Trump has remained unrepentant in claiming the election was “stolen” regardless.