In reversal, Arizona Senate liaison Ken Bennett says he will continue as liaison
The main person who has been overseeing the Arizona Senate's review of Maricopa County election results said late Wednesday he will continue to stay on as liaison, walking back an initial statement in the morning that he would resign.
Ken Bennett, former secretary of state who has served as the Senate's liaison, had told James T. Harris on KFYI on Wednesday morning that he will step down, in frustration at being denied access to the building where the audit is taking place and yet still being asked to continue to serve as the liaison.
"I won't pretend to be part of a process, or pretend to be the liaison when I’m not," Bennett told Harris.
He said late Wednesday that he and Fann worked out an agreement in which he would stay on as liaison. Under that agreement, he would be allowed back in the building and get information from the contractors the Senate has put in charge of the audit, Bennett said. He declined to share more about the agreement for now.
Fann said on Twitter on Wednesday that Bennett will be an "important part" of the draft and final reports.
The Senate's Republican leaders who ordered the audit made the decision last week to permanently ban Bennett from the state fairgrounds building where the audit is taking place after he shared initial results with an outside group without telling Senate President Karen Fann or the leaders of Cyber Ninjas, the contractors that have been leading the audit. Another Senate representative, Randy Pullen, has taken over.
Bennett had told Harris in the morning that thought that he would be locked out yet asked to still carry the liaison title makes him the "liaison in name only," or "LINO" — mocking the "RINO" name that far-right Republicans call moderate Republicans, or, lately, any Republican who speaks out in opposition to the Arizona audit.
Bennett told Harris he was surprised to see Fann release a statement on Tuesday that he would still be involved to the audit to the end, including reviewing the audit report before it is released, while also saying that it was irresponsible for him to release information before the audit is complete.
"It is irresponsible to disclose partial information to the media since they are not 'confirmed' facts until the audit is final," Fann wrote. "This only leads to confusion and misinformation with the public. For that reason, it is imperative anyone working with the audit is required to adhere to the rules of not disclosing unconfirmed information."
Fann says this although in a hearing she hosted earlier this month, contractors released several incomplete facts about the county's election that led to right-wing media and Donald Trump himself spreading inaccurate rumors about widespread fraud in the election.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.