Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) Chairman Bill Gates released his response to a subpoena submitted by State Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) Sunday, which demanded information about the 2022 General Election. Gates insisted that the subpoena was not enforceable but is still allegedly committed to providing the requested information.
“To reiterate, although the Document does not meet the legal requirements of an enforceable legislative subpoena, the Board is committed to transparency in this election. We are reviewing your requests and collecting information which we will promptly provide to you,” said Gates.
Fields Moseley, Communications Director for Maricopa County, told the Arizona Sun Times that there is currently no estimation for when those documents will be delivered, but staff will have more time to prepare them following the election canvass.
Townsend requested 31 items from the Maricopa County Supervisor’s Office at 11 am on Wednesday, all relating to the 2022 General Election. She asked for all the material in writing to be submitted to her office before 9:30 am on Monday.
However, Gates said this time limit is one reason the subpoena is not enforceable under the law. Under Arizona Revised Stature (ARS) § 41-1154, a person who receives a legislative subpoena must produce the requested materials “upon reasonable notice.” Gates stated that Maricopa County was closed for Thanksgiving and the subsequent Friday and weekend and, therefore, only had less than a full business day to produce the information, which he argued was “not a reasonable time to respond.”
Yet, Gates released a statement to reporters on Monday before the county BOS met to certify the election. In this statement, he mentioned the county’s team working through the weekend to provide the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) with a response to its letter, which also requested information regarding the election.
Moseley told The Sun Times that the AGO’s letter response was already in progress before Townsend submitted her subpoena. The county sought to finish it first and provide Townsend with any overlapping answers.
Furthermore, Gates said some of the items and deliverance of those items requested in Townsend’s subpoena invalidate its legality. ARS § 41-1151 states that a legislative subpoena is “sufficient” if it requires the subject to appear in a proceeding before the state Senate, House, or a committee. Gates argued that demanding the records be delivered to Townsend’s office does not comply with this law. Additionally, the laws above state that a legislative subpoena may include two types of requests, testimony at a proceeding or any ” material and relevant books, papers, or documents” the subject has under their possession. Gates stated that numerous requests did not fall into either category and were inappropriate to include in the document.
Gates acknowledged that the county had released its response to the AGO’s letter, which he stated contained information relating to 11 of the 31 requests.
Townsend tweeted Monday that she looks forward to receiving the requested information but disagrees with the assessment of the subpoena’s legality.
I am in receipt of the letter from MCBOS. I look fwd to their prompt reply w/answers. I disagree w/their assessment regarding the method/legality of our subpoena, as do Senate attorneys. Disappointed they went forward with the canvass after admitting the election day mistakes.
— Sen. Kelly Townsend (@AZKellyT) November 28, 2022
As for Maricopa County’s response to the AGO, in short, it asserted issues seen on Election Day were “regrettable” but did not violate state or federal laws.
The Arizona Republican Party tweeted that the response was the equivalent of telling anyone who wants answers to Election Day questions to “go pound sand.”
They don't have "time" for us.
— Republican Party of Arizona (@AZGOP) November 28, 2022
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kelly Townsend” by ArizonaSage. CC BY-SA 4.0. Photo “Bill Gates” by Maricopa County. Background Photo “Courtroom” by Clyde Robinson. CC BY 2.0.