It’s unclear how many wheels might have been originally attached to Arizona Republicans’ ridiculous Maricopa County “election audit,” but at this point whichever were still attached appear to be all falling off at once. Audit “senate liaison” Ken Bennett, a previous Arizona secretary of state, now says he’s quitting his post due to the hired auditors, “Cyber Ninjas” (the spontaneous eyeroll you just did is part of the official pronunciation of the name, so don’t worry about it), freezing him out of the process as this whole tire fire burns to its inevitable conclusion.
As reported by ABC 15 Arizona, Bennett is leaving after being “left out of critical aspects” of the process, hinting he no longer feels he can defend the “integrity” of the final report.
Why did Cyber Ninjas freeze Bennett out of the process? That’s a bit of a fun story. The Eyeroll Ninjas have been fuming because Bennett shared some of the audit’s data with outside election experts—thereby revealing that the audit results closely match Maricopa County’s own certified election tallies, rendering this whole shitshow radioactive tire fire fungal-cream-turned-sentient-money-burning-circus-clown-abattoir a pointless waste of time, money, and Republican credibility. It was a bust.
But Cyber Ninjas has been refusing to release those results, instead stalling for time by declaring that now they need a whole bunch of other things to be turned over to them to be investigated for fraud—things like internet routers and data logs and a comprehensive list of which Arizona residents own which dogs sorted by fluffiness (dog fluffiness, not owner fluffiness).
Adding a lot of insult to Bennett’s injury, the election experts he shared the audit’s data with were the very ones who had previously attacked the Cyber Ninjas’ audit as incompetent.
Yeah, this is rapidly turning into the endgame the audit’s most cynical detractors predicted all along: After finding zero evidence of the “fraud” Trumpian conspiracy theorists claimed had thrown the Arizona election results, team Ninjadudes is now panicking and grasping for new justifications for why they couldn’t find “fraud” that never existed in the first place.
Don’t get too misty-eyed for Republican audit liaison Ken Bennett and other state Republicans now distancing themselves from the mess, however. This may be less a case of developing sudden integrity than it is a case of rats fleeing a sinking ship. At the end of all of this there may yet be both congressional and criminal investigations of just how this blazingly incompetent theater performance came to pass, and who paid for it; if any statehouse Republicans intend to cut themselves loose from team Sudden Retinal Detachment, they don’t have much longer to do it.