Taxpayers have footed nearly $425,000 for the costs of the audit Senate Republicans are conducting, with thousands of dollars more in bills yet to come, state records show.
The largest expense is for $223,000 in legal fees paid through July, followed by $68,100 for security costs at the state fairgrounds in May.
Security officers were paid $60 an hour for 12 hour shifts at the fairgrounds, and security was provide for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Senate President Karen Fann said she decided to pick up a portion of the security costs after the Senate realized it could not conduct its ballot review in Maricopa County's secure ballot center, something it had not accounted for in its contract with Cyber Ninjas, the lead contractor. That agreement covered only 39 days, as that's how long the Cyber Ninjas expected to be doing work on-site. If its work exceeded that time, Fann said, the contractor was on its own.
She hinted that the Senate might try to recoup some costs from Maricopa County. "We might very well do that," she said. "When it's all said and done, we'll see."
Meanwhile, Maricopa Country has sued the senate for $2.8 million, since new voting machines have to be purchased since the old ones are "tainted" and can no longer be used.
The audit is in its fifth month, and the Senate's attorney said earlier this week that a final report could be out by mid-September. However, as of Friday, Fann said no draft report has been delivered to the Senate.
Costs have far exceeded the $150,000 the Senate agreed to pay the Ninjas for its work. The Senate made a $50,000 down payment in April, with the rest due when the work is completed.
The Senate's costs are coming out of its taxpayer-funded $18 million budget. Private fundraising efforts, which as of July had reached $5.7 million, are covering the bulk of audit-related expenses. That appears to include security procured by the Guardian Defense Fund.
The Arizona Senate has hired an election conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist to conduct its review of voter signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes in Maricopa County.
Cyber Ninjas, the Senate's lead audit contractor, hired the same man to review images of all 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2020 election.
Shiva Ayyadurai, or "Dr. Shiva" as he is known to far-right adherents, was tapped for both reviews in the waning weeks of the audit process, records show. However, he had participated in discussions with Arizona Republicans about challenging the state's election results as far back as November.
Ayyadurai has four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He claims to have invented email as a high school student in New Jersey in 1979, a claim widely disputed by technology writers and industry analysts.
Ayyadurai first came to his attention on Nov. 30, when Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, met with Arizona Republicans at a hotel in downtown Phoenix to discuss concerns about Arizona's election.
Ayyadurai made a presentation via Zoom and talked about election challenges he had made in other states, Pullen said. Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, later vouched for Ayyadurai and made introductions.
Mark Finchem is a candidate for Secretary of State. He is at a QAnon conference this weekend. Finchem is a Trump supporter, and was a the Capitol on January 6.
The digital reviews are supposed to augment the Senate's audit of Maricopa County election results, which was prompted by allegations, made without evidence, of voter fraud.
"I don't know why it is that Senator Fann goes out of her way to find unqualified people to do this work," said Benny White, a longtime Republican data analyst in southern Arizona who lost a bid in November to become Pima County recorder. "It might be that she is looking for a particular result."