Republican Maricopa County elected officials brush off MAGA election integrity concerns
Kari Lake's campaign tweeted: "They disenfranchise you. The gaslight you. Then they mock you for caring. That's the Maricopa County way."
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Amid widespread reports of Election Day irregularities suppressing Republican votes in Maricopa County, Ariz., Republican elected officials in the county have been brushing off concerns of their fellow party members with a mixture of anger and condescension.
Marred by hundreds of complaints, including malfunctioning machines and prohibitively long lines to vote, the county's handling of the 2022 midterm elections is now under investigation by the Arizona attorney general's election integrity unit for possible "statutory violations" of state election law.
The probe was announced in a letter Saturday from Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright to Tom Liddy, civil division chief of the county attorney's office.
On Friday, the day before the investigation was launched, GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake's campaign Twitter account shared a video posted by former Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis in which Liddy — a Republican and the son of G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame — cursed out a campaign volunteer over the phone for asking about how many voters' ballots were canceled on Election Day.
The volunteer said he wanted to be able to communicate that Liddy gave him correct information so disinformation wouldn't be spread, but Liddy became defensive, inferring that the volunteer was insinuating that Liddy was spreading disinformation.
"Let me educate you: I cannot control what you say, okay?" Liddy responded. "You can say whatever you want to say. I can't control it. Now, if you're not happy working with me, if you don't want to continue working with me and you don't want me to answer your questions, then we'll just stop. I don't give a sh*t."
"No, Tom, that's the opposite of what I'm saying," the volunteer replied. "I want to work with you. I want to get the right information. I don't want disinformation out of there. That is what I'm looking for."
"I'm not looking for disinformation, I just, you got me two questions, I'm gonna go ask them," Liddy said.
"Yeah, I know," the volunteer said. "I'm not saying that you're giving me bad information. I'm just saying we're getting a lot of information, and we want to make sure what we're getting is accurate."
After asking who the volunteer was, Liddy said, "You sound like you're threatening me."
"I am definitely not threatening you, and I promise that —" the volunteer started to say.
"Now listen, if I don't get these answers to you quickly, you're not gonna be able to tell the crazy people that I've been helpful," Liddy said. "I don't give a f*ck. Is that clear enough?"
After the volunteer reassured Liddy he wasn't threatening him and was merely voicing his worries, Liddy snapped, "I don't care!"
The conversation ended with Liddy promising to get answers to the volunteer's questions.
On Friday, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office told Just the News in a statement: "On Monday, November 14, Tom Liddy, Division Chief of the Civil Services Division of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, returned a call to Tim LaSota and two other lawyers representing the Kari Lake campaign for governor.
"The call lasted approximately 12 minutes. Towards the end of the call, an attorney on the phone named Benjamin Mehr, whose full name was later provided to Mr. Liddy by Mr. LaSota, made a not-so-veiled threat to Mr. Liddy. Mr. Mehr warned Mr. Liddy that there were a lot of irate people on the streets, and that Mr. Mehr wanted to be able to say that Mr. Liddy — personally — was cooperative.
"This statement from a fellow attorney upset Mr. Liddy. For the past three years in Maricopa County, elected officials, elections department employees, and Mr. Liddy personally have been threatened with violence including death. Mr. Liddy understandably responded to Mr. Mehr with emphasis.
"Further, the release of only a portion of the phone call is disingenuous. It is designed to mislead and stir up the same threats directed at too many dedicated public servants since November 2020."
The Lake campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Meanwhile, Maricopa County has scoffed at election integrity concerns on Twitter.
Maricopa County's official Twitter account posted a needling "BOMBSHELL" thread on Friday, writing: "We've noticed that election misinformation seems to spread more widely when there's incendiary language & out-of-context graphics, pictures, or videos. So we are going to EXPOSE the UNBELIEVABLE facts as election workers are CAUGHT IN THE ACT following the law."
The thread included graphics of mock newspaper front pages with satirically sensationalized banners and headlines ridiculing concerns about recurrent election integrity issues in the county.
"UNBELIEVABLE," reads one striking red banner just below the faux logo of the "ELECTIONS DAILY." Beneath the banner, the headline of the lead story exclaims: "We use trucks to transport things!"
The caption on the tweet for that graphic reads: "Trucks driven by bipartisan staff transport sealed envelope packets to Runbeck for signature imaging in preparation for signature verification, which is performed back at the Elections Department."
(The Arizona Republican Party is roiled by factional strife between a pro-Trump wing emobodied by Lake and an establishment Never Trump wing associated with the late Sen. John McCain.)
The Kari Lake War Room Twitter account retweeted the thread from the county, writing: "They think it's funny that it's taken 10 days for them to count your votes. They think it's funny that 48% of their tabulators went down when polls opened election day.
"They disenfranchise you. The[y] gaslight you. Then they mock you for caring. That's the Maricopa County way."
In a reply to a tweet by Maricopa County with a video of county Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates (R) explaining post-election procedures, Kari Lake tweeted, "Since you've decided to start answering questions — tell us more about your 'Anti-MAGA' PAC."
Gates tweeted in response: "I didn't create the PAC. I understand the PAC was intended to support candidates who refused to spread misinformation."
A PAC called Pro-Democracy Republicans of Arizona was launched by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer. The goal of the PAC is to elect Republicans in Arizona who don't believe there were issues in the state's 2020 presidential election that could have altered the outcome.
"The Arizona election wasn't stolen," the PAC website declares. "We Republicans simply had a presidential candidate who lost, while we had many other candidates who won. It's time we Republicans accept and acknowledge that fact.
"Candidates come and go. But our democratic institutions are long-lasting, and peaceful transitions of power are a hallmark of the United States. We should not abandon this history in favor of conspiracy theorists and demagoguery."
In a since-deleted tweet dated Nov. 17, 2021, Richer wrote: "Thanks to a few generous donors this is now launching. Join me if you care about traditional Republican 'stuff' (free people, free markets, rule of law), but also don't believe in conspiracies about the 2020 election or that Jan 6 was a tourist event. https://www.prodemocracygop.com"
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