Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah, who was appointed to the bench by former Gov. Janet Napolitano, ruled that the Arizona Senate must turn over records from the Maricopa County ballot audit to satisfy a public records request from The Arizona Republic. The newspaper and left-wing watchdog American Oversight have been engaged in litigation attempting to get records from the legislature and the contractor that conducted the audit, Cyber Ninjas.
Hannah said that while the legislature may keep conversations about legislation private, under “legislative privilege,” conversations about the audit are excluded. “This is not a confidential process,” Hannah said. “This is a highly, highly public process.” He said there is a legal presumption favoring disclosure which the Senate did not overcome.
The Arizona Court of Appeals rejected a request from Cyber Ninjas, the company that audited Maricopa County’s ballots, to block a public records request by the media for records from the audit. Phoenix Newspapers Inc., which owns The Arizona Republic, asked for emails and other documents in its April request, which the lower trial court granted. Cyber Ninjas appealed the decision. The appellate court rejected the cyberfirm’s argument that opening its records up for public inspection would allow opening the records of any contractor that does business with the state.
Jack Wilenchik, Cyber Ninja’s attorney, expressed his disappointment to Capitol Media Services, “The government cannot force private contractors to produce things the government does not own. He said it’s similar to a violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure.