Journalists’ Roundtable: 3-10-23

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It’s Friday and that means it’s time for the Journalists’ Roundtable. Joining us tonight for a look at the week’s top stories: Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com, Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com, Jim Small, Arizona Mirror.

Topics covered:

  • Attorney General Kris Mayes suing Cochise County over election control

Where did this start and what is the basis of this suit?

“Cochise County as you may recall, is one of the counties that balked about following the state law certifying the election last year to three member boards, two Republicans, and one Democrat, which is another way of saying two election deniers and one not. They have all along wanted to all sorts of things, they wanted to do a hand count of all the ballots even though that wasn’t allowed by law,” said Roberts.

“Well now they’ve decided to take all of our their statutory powers to run an election, and put them in the hands of Cochise County Recorder, David Stevens, who is a good friend of Mark Finchem and is affiliated with this whole election denier thing,” said Roberts. This is not allowed, which is the basis of why Mayes is suing them to fix this issue.

What is David Stevens’ background and qualifications?

“He is a certified elections official, he is the county recorder and has been elected twice in Cochise County, so he’s seen a number of elections. He’s described Finchem as his best friend, and they are partners on a non-profit that looks at a lot of election issues. What’s interesting about the Cochise situation is that the board had this agreement drafted up to basically give almost all the election powers to the recorder, which is a little unusual,” said Pitzel.

“Initially the County Attorney’s office, they drafted that, but after the A.G. raised some objections to it the Attorney said, ‘We’re not onboard with this agreement the way it’s written.'” The board went and approved it anyway, Mayes sued and now the board has to go find its own outside legal council, because it can’t be represented by their County Attorney, because he doesn’t believe in what they’re doing,” said Pitzel.

Where does this fit in the big picture?

“I think it’s just the latest turn of the screw in how we’re seeing these elections conspiracies, how it plays out when that translates into actual governance. That’s really what we’re seeing here, what we’ve been kind of watching over the past four months, five months in Cochise County particular,” said Small.

Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com; Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com; Jim Small, Arizona Mirror

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