Arizona AG: County must comply with 2020 election subpoena

FILE – In this Jan. 7, 2020, file photo, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich speaks at a news conference in Phoenix. An Arizona county that has resisted parts of a subpoena issued by the state Senate as it reviews how it handled the 2020 election must turn over everything the Senate wants or lose all its state funding, the state attorney general said Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Brnovich issued the decision after a Republican senator asked him if Maricopa County’s refusal to hand over routers, passwords and other items the Senate says it needs to complete the unprecedented partisan review violated state law .(AP Photo/Bob Christie, File)

PHOENIX — An Arizona county that has resisted parts of a subpoena issued by the state Senate as it reviews how it handled the 2020 election must turn over everything the Senate wants or lose all its state funding, the state attorney general said Thursday.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued the decision after a Republican senator asked him if Maricopa County’s refusal to hand over routers, passwords and other items the Senate says it needs to complete the unprecedented partisan review violated state law.

The county has turned over its vote-counting machines, servers and huge amounts of data but balked at handing over routers it uses county-wide and passwords it says it does not control. But the county board of supervisors has said the routers were never connected to election tabulation equipment but were used by every county department, including the sheriff’s office, and that turning them over would compromise sensitive law enforcement information.

Brnovich said that refusal to comply with the Senate’s subpoena violates state law and triggers another law that penalizes counties, cities or towns that have policies in conflict with laws enacted by the Legislature.

The county has until Sept. 27 to comply or it will lose all the revenue it gets from the state — about 25% of its budget, which was $2.8 billion in 2020.

County spokesman Fields Moseley said the Board of Supervisors will be meeting with lawyers to decide on a response. The board is controlled 4-1 by Republicans but has been increasingly at odds with the Senate over its 2020 election review.

Earlier, a lawyer for the county urged Brnovich to reject the complaint, arguing the subpoena is unenforceable because lawmakers are not in session.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in February that previous subpoenas were valid.

“Our courts have spoken,” Brnovich said in a statement. “The rule of law must be followed.”

The county could try to fight the attorney general’s conclusion in court. And Brnovich’s solicitor general, Beau Roysden III, wrote that nothing in his written report should be read as suggesting that county board cannot “resolve the violation” by turning over the materials, or negotiating a settlement with the county that resolves its security concerns.

The decision comes after a report on the vote recount to state Senate Republicans was delayed.

It was the latest delay for the review, which is led by a small computer security consultant called Cyber Ninjas.