After a year of relentless disinformation about the 2020 presidential election, Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, has had enough. Earlier this month Bernier, who chairs the Senate’s elections committee, organized an informational session to explain how Wisconsin’s elections work. The hearing offered something rare in Wisconsin’s hyper-partisan political environment: a crash course in Wisconsin elections administration conducted by a nonpartisan panel of state and local election officials. Bernier at the outset barred attendees or participants from grandstanding. Several Republicans attended the hearing to ask questions, including Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, who has unsuccessfully tried to seize ballots and election materials from Milwaukee and Brown counties to aid in her own election investigation. Bernier’s hearing came in the wake of news that former conservative state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman — hired by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, to conduct a probe of the election — spent days at a conspiratorial election rally sponsored by MyPillow’s chief executive and traveled to Arizona to observe its flawed election review. His investigative team includes a former Trump campaign official, The Associated Press reported last week.
Arizona: Cyber Ninjas, flouting court order, refuse to turn over public records to the Senate | Jeremy Duda/Arizona Mirror
Cyber Ninjas won’t hand over all of the documents that Senate President Karen Fann requested from the review it conducted of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, despite an order by the Arizona Court of Appeals that all such records be made public. Attorney Jack Wilenchik, who represents the Florida-based company that led the election review that Fann ordered, argued to the Senate’s lawyer that the staffing records and internal communications are not public records, and said Cyber Ninjas will not turn them over as the Senate president requested. The company will provide “full financial statements” about the audit, either as part of the report that will become public on Sept. 24, or shortly thereafter, Wilenchik wrote in an email to Senate attorney Kory Langhofer on Friday. And it will provide its communications with the Senate, which have not been made public, and any updated policies and procedures its subcontractors have used during the audit. But staffing records, as well as internal communications and communications with subcontractors, are private records, Wilenchik wrote. For example, Wilenchik said it would not be “practical, workable, fair or legal” for the company to be forced to turn over internal company emails about staffing and Cyber Ninjas’ performance of its contract with the Senate. “If the case were otherwise, then it would set an extremely unsettling precedent for all government contractors in this state and make it impossible for the State to do business,” Wilenchik wrote. Furthermore, Wilenchik said Fann’s request for all records that have “a substantial nexus to the audit” — a phrase that the Arizona Court of Appeals used to describe documents that the Senate must obtain and publicly release under the state’s public records law — is vague and difficult to define.