PHOENIX − As Donald Trump and his allies pushed false allegations of election fraud in the spring of 2021, his most high-profile lawyer appeared to take an active role in assigning work at the Arizona State Senate’s “audit,” newly released records show.
Rudy Giuliani’s office granted a specific shift to a volunteer at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Ariz. for the recount of 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots about two weeks before it began, according to an email obtained by The Arizona Republic, a part of the USA Today Network.
The email details the volunteer’s hours, days and length of service and notes it was authorized by another Trump confidant who later helped manage and finance and the ballot review, which the Senate billed as a nonpartisan effort to ensure the results were accurate.
Phoenix Republican Linda Brickman wrote Senate “audit” leaders on April 11, 2021, and told them Giuliani’s office called her and asked for her help on the recount.
Giuliani, the former New York mayor who became Trump’s personal lawyer in 2018, was a galvanizing figure in post-election fraud claims. He promoted conspiracies and led efforts to overturn election results in multiple states, including Arizona where he met with Republican legislators on a plan to replace the state’s 11 presidential electors and flip Trump’s loss.
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“I was just asked to help on the AZ Audit starting on April 22nd for 15 days,” Brickman said in her email. “This is all under the authorization of Christina Bobb, who works with Rudy.”
Bobb, who serves as one of Trump’s lawyer, reported on the “audit” while working for the far-right One America News Network. She also acted as a go-between for Trump and Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, the lead contractor on the ballot review.
The email is the latest evidence of Trump’s long reach into the ballot review and demonstrates how his allies instigated the deeply flawed recount of 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County and later used it to promote unproven claims of election fraud to a national audience.
The email is one of nearly three dozen records a judge ordered the Arizona Senate to make public July 13 in response to a public records lawsuit by The Republic.
The Senate for two years fought to keep a tranche of “audit”-related records private based on a claim of “legislative privilege,” arguing disclosure could subvert the deliberative process on issues under consideration by lawmakers.
But a review of the new records show most did not involve any legislative deliberation and instead dealt with mundane operation issues: Who should have access to the audit, scripts for soliciting volunteers and labor questions about hours worked.
A few emails dealt with the Cyber Ninjas contract, which then-Senate President Karen Fann released to lawmakers in April, 2021, with a request it stay private.
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Other emails were potentially embarrassing and clearly partisan.
Two referenced telephone solicitations to a “nasty Dem.” Several were about whether to allow former Republic reporter Jen Fifield onto the audit floor as an observer.
“So she just wants to be there as a pain in the a** but not to help? :-),” Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett and his deputy wrote in an April 19, 2021, email to “state committeeman” Heather Leigh Wallace.
“That is correct!” Wallace responded from her Arizona State University email address. “Maybe make sure that Monday morning/day shift has folks who are used to reporters? Oy?”
Fifield, who now covers election issues for Votebeat, raised questions the prompted a temporary shutdown of the recount just after it had gotten underway. She asked why ballot counters were using blue ink pens, which could confuse ballot scanners. Her observations forced Logan to swap out the blue pens for green ones, earning Fifield the derisive nickname “Blue Pen Jen” from workers.
In other emails, “audit” officials discussed color-coded spreadsheets aimed at winnowing people who weren’t registered Maricopa County voters and other undesirables from working as volunteers.
“Red ones are just asshats. Keep an eye out for reporters,” deputy “audit” liaison Julie Fisher wrote in an April 16, 2021, email. She noted that she reached out to then Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward for help in accessing voter registration logs to vet volunteers.
Pushback against approval of volunteer
Brickman’s email stating Giuliani’s office and Bobb authorized her work on the audit seemed to catch other officials off guard.
“Having just received a call from Rudy Giuliani’s office a few moments ago, I thought I would quickly fill you in,” Brickman wrote.
Officials with the ballot review pushed back and advised her only the Senate liaison could schedule volunteers: “If your information or invitation doesn’t come from Ken Bennett or Julie Fisher to be an volunteer observer, please disregard it,” they wrote from the Senate’s “audit” email account.
It appears the response did not affect her participation in the “audit.” On her LinkedIn page, she prominently notes her role “as a member of the AZ Audit team as an Observer to help secure Election Integrity in our State.”
Brickman is a Republican activist who joined the Arizona Tea Party Patriots Association in 2011, worked on Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign and served as an Arizona delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention in 2016.
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In her April 11 email, Brickman also espoused election conspiracies and referenced material she sent to Bennett and other audit officials that she claimed was evidence of voter fraud.
Brickman would not discuss her email or her “audit” work during a recent phone interview. She said she “made a pact with my other Republican counterparts never to talk … to The Arizona Republic.” She asked for an emailed list of questions about Giuliani and Bobb, but did not to respond to it.
Bobb, who worked with Giuliani and Trump’s legal team to overturn 2020 election results, was a fixture at the “audit.” Between April 2021 and February 2022, Bobb and Logan shared nearly 2,000 text messages. She was among the people he communicated with most frequently.
Bobb is a former U.S. Marine who worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration. She is best known as the former host of “Weekly Briefing” on One America News Network, which she joined in 2020.
Bobb became a central figure in the classified documents investigation and the federal indictment of Trump. When federal agents descended on Mar-a-Lago in an Aug. 8 search, Bobb confronted them as a senior lawyer on Trump’s legal team. Bobb in 2022 had signed a document affirming that all classified material in the former president’s possession was returned to federal authorities.
Bobb did not respond to requests for comment.
How The Arizona Republic obtained the records
The Republic in 2021 sued the state Senate and Cyber Ninjas for “audit” records under the Arizona Public Records Law. The lawsuits have forced the disclosure of tens of thousands of documents detailing the highly partisan nature of the botched ballot review, which so far has cost taxpayers more than $5 million.
But both the Senate and Logan continue fighting the release of some records, claiming they are exempt from disclosure.
The Republic in July challenged the Senate’s claim of legislative privilege on 41 specific records. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bradley Astrowsky ruled the Senate did not have to hand over some of its records. Those include internal communications concerning the authorization, planning and findings of the “audit.”
Astrowsky said the Senate could keep secret emails and texts with “audit” contractors, even if they weren’t yet hired when they communicated with legislators.
But he did not completely side with the Senate. He said communications dealing with administrative decisions such as hiring consultants, how much to pay them, and whom to hire, are not protected. He gave the Senate until July 24 to file an appeal or release them.
Astrowky hewed closely to guardrails established by the Arizona Supreme Court in August, 2021, when it ruled the Senate could keep many “audit” records private to protect the deliberative legislative process.
The high court reversed rulings by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge and the Arizona Court of Appeals that concluded political communications were not protected and could not be withheld on legislative privilege claims.
The ruling appears only to apply to Senate communications.
Cyber Ninjas and Logan are under a different court-ordered mandate to turn over thousands of communications from the audit. A judge in January 2022 fined Logan’s company $50,000 a day until he complied. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the fine in July 2022, rejecting Logan’s request to rescind it. The fines now total in the millions of dollars.
Astrowsky rejected Logan’s latest attempt to restrict what documents he is required to turn over. The judge said Logan needs to respond to existing court orders.
What previous ‘audit’ records have revealed
Records released so far show Logan was part of a coordinated campaign to challenge results in several swing states when Fann tapped him to lead the hand count.
Text messages show Logan couldn’t make sense of his own data in the Arizona count and had no way to quantify results. In a series of messages, Logan said “our numbers are screwy” and that he would be satisfied so long as the count was right “most of the time.”
Fann hired the Cyber Ninjas after privately communicating with retired Army Col. Phil Waldron, an election denier who attended meetings with former President Donald Trump. Although neither Logan nor his company had election auditing experience, Fann at the time said he was “well qualified” and “well experienced.”
Senate records make clear Cyber Ninjas never had to deliver a definitive report about its review — it only had to try.
While Logan confirmed President Joe Biden’s victory in Maricopa County, his report to the Senate focused on so-called anomalies, instilling distrust in voting machines and encouraging partisan calls for paper ballot tabulations, hand recounts and more “audits.”
Robert Anglen is an investigative reporter for The Arizona Republic. Reach him at email@example.com or 602-444-8694. Follow him on Twitter @robertanglen.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Trump lawyer Giuliani may have helped pick volunteer for Ariz. ‘audit’