After months as plaintiffs in lawsuits attempting to force Arizona election officials and county supervisors to submit to public audits and recounts to verify the results of last November’s election, Chairwoman Kelli Ward and the AZGOP now find themselves facing nearly identical legal action from Republican State Committeemen if they continue to obstruct an audit and/or recount of the AZGOP’s January election that saw Ward re-elected to another two-year term.
A letter from former AZGOP counsel Timothy LaSota informed the Party that a lawsuit would be filed if they continued to stonewall the election challenges that were filed in the days that followed the election. “If the state party does not agree to a full, transparent and auditable recount of all offices elected on January 23, 2021 as described above, one thing will happen and another is likely to happen, I will proceed to Court to vindicate Mr. Beard and Dr. Dowling’s rights, and I understand that various other parties are planning to seek Ms. Ward’s removal as state party chair via a call for a special meeting from the requisite number of state party committeemen.” read LaSota’s letter.
In comments made to the Arizona Republic, the AZGOP’s current attorney Jack Wilenchik dismissed the request and claimed that neither Ward nor party officials had the authority to perform an audit without a vote by the Party’s Executive Committee, and he painted Kelli Ward as a Joe Biden type winner – powerless to do anything to prove her own victory was legitimate.
“It’s like asking Joe Biden or Merrick Garland to do some kind of a recount of the November election — they don’t have that power.” Wilenchik said.
“Hogwash!” replied one GOP State Committeeman who attended the Party’s January meeting. “This is in our bylaws and the Chairman doesn’t need to be told to follow the bylaws by the Executive Committee, she is required to follow the bylaws regardless of what the Executive Committee says.”
AZGOP bylaws contain a 10-day window for such election challenges and according to LaSota’s demand letter, several committeemen who asked for audits or recounts in the days after the meeting were told that they were well within the 10-day window and that an audit would be forthcoming.
“It is also worth noting that various staff members of the Arizona Republican Party and the National Committeeman who served as Parliamentarian at the state party meeting, Tyler Bowyer, indicated that the party members were within their rights and would get the relief they were asking for.” wrote LaSota.
The legal strategy of shifting the power to decide whether or not to audit to the Executive Committee comes as Ward’s allies have been furiously lobbying the Executive Committee to support Ward’s election and not seek a revote. [RELATED ARTICLE: AZGOP’s Executive Committee Considering A New Vote For Chairman, Other Offices]
The optics of Ward and Arizona’s Republican Party stonewalling legal requests from Republicans to audit her election while both Ward and the AZGOP are involved in trying to force audits elsewhere are taking a toll according to one GOP strategist.
“The same day Ward’s attorneys are saying Hell No to a lawful request for an election challenge, the AZGOP is sending out emails asking for $1,000 to help them fight for election integrity? That is completely insane, like she has no idea that Republicans actually follow the news and know that she’s a complete hypocrite on this issue?”
LaSota’s letter echoed that point — “Clearly the Arizona Republican Party has been at the forefront of voter integrity matters for many years,” he wrote. “It would be bitterly ironic if that same party continued in its efforts to stymie those who simply want to ensure that the January 23, 2021 state party elections were conducted fairly and accurately.”