17 AZ GOP Lawmakers Demand Kelli Ward Audit Party's Leadership Election

Published: Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 10:20am
Updated: Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 3:03pm

More than a third of GOP state senators and representatives demanded that Kelli Ward, the head of the Arizona Republican Party, audit her own re-election as party chair or stop leading efforts to audit the 2020 general election.

A letter signed by 17 Republican lawmakers accuses Ward of undermining the party’s calls for election integrity and accountability.

Ward has supported efforts to audit the November election, particularly in Maricopa County, and been a leading voice nationally of claims that the presidential election was stolen and fraudulent. But she’s dismissed calls to audit the state GOP’s recent leadership election.

“Our collective messaging is being undermined by your insistence that none of these standards should apply to your election as AZ GOP Chairman,” the lawmakers wrote. “This inconsistency is simply not acceptable.”

Ward has faced criticism from her fellow Republicans over the way votes were handled and counted during the Jan. 23 party election, when she claimed a narrow 42-vote victory.

Though her own election “pales in comparison” to a presidential election, the lawmakers wrote, “the principles that surround every election, no matter how big or small the office, must remain the same.”

If Ward continues to refuse an audit of the party election, the lawmakers wrote she should remove herself from efforts to audit elections in Arizona. Ward has backed efforts by Arizona Senate Republicans to subpoena voting records in Maricopa County, an effort to allow senators to conduct their own audit of the general election results.

“You would be an unwelcome distraction and foil for the media to use to discredit our efforts to protect our state’s voters,” lawmakers wrote.

Those who signed the letter are a mix of lawmakers who are no fan of Ward’s, but others who at minimum support her unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen — including Rep. Mark Finchem, an Oro Valley Republican who went to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The letter, sent from the office of GOP Rep. Kevin Payne, was also signed by Sens. Rick Gray, Vince Leach, and T.J. Shope, as well as Reps. Shawnna Bolick, Frank Carroll, Regina Cobb, Timothy Dunn, John Fillmore, Quang Nguyen, Becky Nutt, Joanne Osbourne, Beverly Pingerelli, Bret Roberts, Ben Toma and Justin Wilmeth.

Officials with the Arizona Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct the number of Arizona Republican lawmakers who signed the letter and correct Kelli Ward's name in the headline.