- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The company hired to audit the results of the Maricopa County elections in Arizona says it has recovered data that it previously thought was destroyed.

The admission came a day after the GOP-led Maricopa County Board of Supervisors fired off a scathing letter to Republican Senate President Karen Fann that called the deleted database claim “false” and “defamatory.”

They said “your ‘auditors’ are in way over their heads” and said the assertion shows “your ‘auditors’ incompetence.”

The next day Ben Cotton, founder of the computer forensics firm CyFIR LLC that is working on the audit, told states Sens. Karen Fann and Warren Peterson that he was able to locate the data in question and no longer needs it from the county.

“All of this may be a moot point because subsequently I have been able to recover all of those deleted files and I have access to that data,” Mr. Cotton said. “I have the information I need from the recovery efforts of the data.”

Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward said the auditors deserve credit for recovering the data.

“That is great news isn’t it,” Ms. Ward said in a video posted on the Arizona GOP’s website. “Skilled expert auditors are here in Arizona getting the job done.”

The GOP-led Senate ordered the audit of the Maricopa County elections. The process has not gone as smoothly as hoped.

The process kicked off last month and has sparked a clash between state and local leaders over the necessary and partisan nature of the investigation.

The CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the group hired to oversee the recount, had promoted election-rigging conspiracy theories before landing the job, and there are still lingering questions over who is funding the massive effort.

“You have rented out the once good name of the Arizona State Senate to grifters and con-artists, who are fundraising hard-earned money from our fellow citizens even as your contractors parade around the Coliseum, hunting for bamboo and something they call ‘kinematic artifacts’ while shining purple lights for effect,” the Maricopa Board said in its letter to Ms. Fann. “None of these things are done in a serious audit.”

The questions over deleted databases are one of the “serious” issues Ms. Fann raised in a May 12 letter to the board.

That same day the official Twitter account of the audit sounded the alarm.

“Breaking Update: Maricopa County deleted a directory full of election databases from the 2020 election cycle days before the election equipment was delivered to the audit,” the Twitter account said. “This is spoliation of evidence!”

Former President Trump, who is cheering on the audit and insists the election was stolen from him, touted the allegations as a smoking gun.

“Many Radical Left Democrats and weak Republicans are very worried about the fact that this has been exposed,” Mr. Trump said. “The DELETION of an entire Database and critical election field of Maricopa County is unprecedented.”

Stephen Richer, a Republican who took over as Maricopa County Recorder after the election, said Mr. Trump’s accusation was “unhinged.”

The Maricopa Board, in its letter to Ms. Fann, said the deleted database accusations are “false, defamatory, and beneath the dignity of the Senate.”

Members of the board, which is composed of four Republicans and one Democrat, said that it is time to confront the “Big Lie” about the election, and warned the bogus charges are sowing doubt in the election system.

“Our state has become a laughing stock,” the letter read. “We implore you to recognize the obvious truth: your ‘auditors’ are in way over their heads.”

Ms. Fann, however, signaled Tuesday the audit will continue despite the missteps and blowback from local leaders.

• This story is based in part on wire reports.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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