Ken Bennett, the former Republican secretary of state in Arizona, said Wednesday he plans to step down from his role as the state Senate liaison for the ongoing audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County.
Bennett has been one of the most publicly exposed audit executives since he started in April. Arizona Senate Republicans ordered the audit to be carried out despite previous post-election audits that confirmed the Maricopa County election results.
Bennett was excluded from the audit last Friday after sharing information about an ongoing third count of the total number of ballots cast in the county with an outside group of consultants. He said he cannot continue to be part of a process that lacks transparency.
“I cannot be left out of a process which is at its most critical stage,” Bennett told conservative talk show host James Harris Wednesday morning. “I won’t pretend to be part of the process or pretend to be the liaison when I’m not.”
thebegan in April after contractors hired by the Republican-led state Senate seized control of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots. The Senate hired several companies to perform the audit. It is run by Cyber Ninjas, whose founder promoted electoral conspiracy theories. The process was heavily criticized by election experts, election officials and officials. .
President Biden won Arizona by 10,457 votes in November and the audit results cannot negate his victory.
Arizona Senate Speaker Karen Fann said this week that she would like Bennett to be part of the final report. Bennett has not completely ruled out participating in this process.
“I will participate in the writing of the final report if I can be put back into the information that will be used to build this report over the next few days and weeks,” Bennett said. “I cannot put a stamp on a product that I am excluded from its development.”
Bennett said he believed Randy Pullen, an audit spokesperson, was now acting in the liaison role. Pullen and other audit members did not respond to a request for comment.
Despite his intention to step down, Bennett said he still supported the audit and a new subpoena issued by Fann earlier this week.
Bennett’s announcement came two days after heon the reconciliation of duplicate ballots and whether the third ballot count is truly independent. Earlier this week, Bennett said he expects a final report to be sent to the Arizona Senate sometime in August.