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Confrontation between Senate GOP and Maricopa County canceled

State Sen. Kelly Townsend canceled plans for a special hearing on Monday afternoon, one she intended to use to pressure Maricopa County officials to comply with a request for information from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

As it turned out, the county was already busy fulfilling that request, and several others over the course of the past few months, before Townsend issued a subpoena demanding the county’s response.

In a letter sent to Townsend (R-Mesa) on Friday, county board Chair Bill Gates described her demands — that Maricopa County respond to a March 9 letter from the attorney general’s Election Integrity Unit — as unnecessary.

“It doesn’t take a letter, much less a subpoena to gather information,” Gates stated. “A phone call is an effective form of communication.”

The same day the letter was sent, an attorney for the county fulfilled the request from the Attorney General’s Office by turning over several policy documents and dozens of voter registration files.

Townsend canceled the hearing after learning the documents had been received by the attorney general, according to a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans.

In a statement, Townsend appeared to take credit for the county’s correspondence with the Attorney General’s Office, despite the county’s documented efforts to respond in good faith without her involvement.

“The county’s acknowledgment of its duty to timely account for election administration activity is a laudable victory in our pursuit of accountability to Arizona voters,” Townsend said. “Our subpoena conveyed the will of Arizonans, from the branch most representative of the statewide electorate, that the county make election integrity requests a top priority, rather than place them in a public records queue.”

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.