Arizona state Senate falls one vote short of contempt resolution against Maricopa County officials

The Senate GOP caucus is pursuing legal recourse against the Maricopa County board of supervisors over access to machines and ballots used during the presidential election
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Arizona voters
2020 Arizona voters
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A bid by Arizona state Senate Republicans to hold Maricopa County supervisors in contempt faltered early this week, as one key GOP lawmaker backed away from the attempt.

State Senator Paul Boyer (R-Glendale), said that while he believes the Senate could use its power to force access to the county's voting machines and ballots from the November presidential election, it is a power that should be used "sparingly and reluctantly."

Primarily, Boyer said he believes the county will willingly conduct an audit of the results of the presidential election, and what the state Senate should now advocate for is an order issued by a judge granting the senators access to the machines and ballot, not a contempt citation.

"I believe the board (of supervisors) genuinely seeks the confidence and clarity of a court order to legally proceed," said Boyer. 

Boyer's Senate Republican colleagues disagree with his optimistic stance, arguing that the body has given the supervisors ample time to resolve their position on the audit. Karen Fann, the Senate President (R-Prescott), noted that she has been engaging with the supervisors for weeks. She said that she has made every effort to extract a workable resolution from the Maricopa officials and actually planned, initially, for a contempt vote to be held last month, but postponed the plan in the hopes that the two groups could arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution.

Each of her efforts were met with objections from the Maricopa board, said Fann. "I'm sorry to say, this is why we're at where we're at right now," she said. 

The Maricopa board of supervisors recently filed a court request to block the Senate from voting on the contempt resolution. An attorney for the board, John Doran, told a Maricopa County judge that the vote was "politically charged paranoia" and part of an action by the Senate to "press ahead with a false narrative belief by the actual facts and evidence."

"Their actions show they are dripping with contempt," said Senator J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) of the filing.

However, the GOP caucus is comprised of just 16 members in a 30 member body. Without Boyer's vote, the slim majority needed to approve the contempt resolution disappears. 

Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) said of Boyer, "If you say you're going to vote along with your caucus and then you do not, your word is never going to be trusted again."