Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Featured News / Reporter forced from Senate audit for photographing ex-lawmaker, indiscernible ballot

Reporter forced from Senate audit for photographing ex-lawmaker, indiscernible ballot

Former state representative Anthony Kern counts ballots on April 30 during a Senate audit of the 2020 election at Veterans Coliseum. This photo led to auditors kicking pool reporter Ryan Randazzo of the Arizona Republic out of the arena for alleged violation of a rule prohibiting the photographing of ballots. Randazzo’s tweet sparked a long conversation on the social media platform in which users questioned his participation in the audit because he was a losing candidate in the election, he was photographed in the mob of Trump supporters during the siege on the Capitol Jan. 6 and he has been involved in the Stop the Steal movement. (Photo by Ryan Randazzo/Arizona Republic)

Former state representative Anthony Kern counts ballots on April 30 during a Senate audit of the 2020 election at Veterans Coliseum. This photo led to auditors kicking pool reporter Ryan Randazzo of the Arizona Republic out of the arena for alleged violation of a rule prohibiting the photographing of ballots. Randazzo’s tweet sparked a long conversation on the social media platform in which users questioned his participation in the audit because he was a losing candidate in the election, he was photographed in the mob of Trump supporters during the siege on the Capitol Jan. 6 and he has been involved in the Stop the Steal movement. (Photo by Ryan Randazzo/Arizona Republic)

An Arizona Republic reporter had his press access for the state Senate audit revoked Friday after he tweeted a photo of former Republican lawmaker and Jan. 6 protester Anthony Kern reviewing Maricopa County 2020 ballots at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. 

The reporter, Ryan Randazzo, was working as the press pool reporter and posted that he was removed from the Coliseum on Twitter. 

“Well, a man in a cowboy hat and a badge that said Wake TSI just came over, asked if I tweeted the picture of Anthony Kern, and when I said yes he escorted me out of the building and said my press privileges were ‘revoked,’ Randazzo tweeted. 

Randazzo added in a subsequent tweet that he was told he could stay in the venue’s parking lot. 

Senate liaison and former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Randazzo was removed because there was a ballot in the image he tweeted. 

“I think he was trying to get Anthony Kern’s face, but he ended up getting the ballot,” Bennett said. “We were very clear that reporters would not be releasing close up images of ballots.” 

@ArizonaAudit, the Twitter account for the audit, responded to a user who said the ballot in the photo “looked quite blurry to me” by telling them to “Go get an eye exam.” 

To participate in the press pool, journalists agreed to ensure photos of ballots did not have contents that were distinguishable by the naked eye or via a zoom lens. They did not agree to avoid photographing or posting images that contain ballots entirely.  

There is no agreement to avoid photographing faces. 

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said on Twitter that Randazzo’s tweet violated a judge’s order to not release the contents of ballots publicly and accused him of “doxing” workers at the Coliseum. In fact, the judge’s orders do not apply to the press, only the Senate. And doxing, which lawmakers just voted to make a crime, is defined as making someone’s private or identifying information public with malicious intent.  

Kern’s pinned tweet on his Twitter profile is an April 22 announcement saying it wa“Very exciting to be involved in Arizona’s massive and historic election audit which begins today.” 

Details of the ballot were not visible in the photo, and Randazzo said that when security personnel approached him, they asked if he had tweeted a photo of the former lawmaker, not the ballot.  

Kern on twitter accused Randazzo of committing a felony by photographing a ballot, and asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to look into it.  

The audit’s own cameras show images of ballots, though they’re no clearer than the image Randazzo posted, which he shot from the press section an estimated 125 feet away from where the actual counting is happening, and which was too pixilated to make out the actual words on the ballot.  

Kern lost his 2020 re-election bid, the only Republican member of the state House to do so, and was present Jan. 6 when insurrectionists stormed Congress to try to stop lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 election, which President Biden won.  

As a 2020 candidate, Kern’s name is on some of the ballots the auditors are reviewing — he lost his state House of Representatives re-election to represent District 20.  

Bennett was unaware that Kern ran in 2020. 

“What, he lost? Was he in the 2020 election?” Bennett asked. 

Bennett said he was not involved in hiring Kern, saying that responsibility fell to the temp agency that hired counters for Wake TSI, the firm overseeing the hand recount under Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO has spread unproven claims about the election in Arizona online. 

In the Statement of Work for Cyber Ninjas, the firm leading the audit, the firm says it will use “non-partisan counters,” drawn from “a pool of primarily former law enforcement, veterans, and retired individuals” for the recount. 

“These individuals will undergo background checks and will be validated to not have worked for any political campaigns nor having worked for any vendor involved in the voting process,” the section stated. 

Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, told reporters that the only vetting ballot-counters would undergo was a review of their social media accounts. It’s unclear why that review didn’t throw up red flags for Kern. 

Bennett said no counters were asked their political party affiliation and Kern did not receive special treatment. 

“When you’re hiring somebody, you can’t ask what their political party is,” Bennett said. So, I think in that sense, he was nonpartisan because they didn’t ask him whether he was Republican or Democrat or Independent or whatever.” 

Kern is also on the Brady List, a database of police who have engaged in a pattern of dishonesty. It is unclear whether that came up in a background check.  

“I don’t know anything about that – I was not involved in his hiring,” Bennett said. 

Also on hand for the recount today was U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, a Gilbert Republican who voted against certifying the results of Arizona’s presidential election. 

4 comments

  1. Gosh, could this “audit” possibly be more fishy?

    Farce, fiasco, or debacle? The answer, clearly, is: yes. One eagerly awaits the thrilling conclusion!

  2. Millions of Republican voters have been seduced by Trump’s “f— your facts” style and overt authoritarianism – always attractive to the right. He’s now using this enormous political power to demand that Republican legislators continue to support his Election Steal Big Lie. If not, he says he will “primary” them out of office at their next election.

    This brutal loyalty test has split the GOP into those willing to be owned by him with assured re-election; and those willing to risk de-election by holding onto traditional values of truth and integrity.

    The Arizona legislators who commissioned this audit have done it simply to meet the loyalty test. None expect to find significant fraud (after three counts already!) but hope to muddy the waters and keep the topic alive. Accuracy is the last thing they really want, but even affirming the original count can be trumpeted as having “defended the system” – the opposite of what they’re really doing.

    This audit is our zombie clown in Trump’s vampire political circus, energizing his voter drone mass, keeping legislators in line, and pumping life into his Election Steal Big Lie by sucking money – along with truth, trust, and dignity – out of our nation. Expect more sham audits in other states since they cost him little and pay back bigly.

  3. I and my sportcoat and my notebook and pencil, were removed from a meeting about the Yuma Desalination Plant in the Senate Rules Committee, in Senate Caucus Room 1, Joseph J. Kubacki, after moving to a closer seat in order to better hear Gail Griffin and the rest of the lawmakers, on February 4, 2014. That was my last visit to the state capitol building.

  4. Joe the Plumber

    Forgot about McCain spinning in his grave over the bat schite craziness of his party, even Goldwater would be disgusted by what’s going on in Arizona and his once proud party. It’s a cult, period.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

 
x

Check Also

Senate, Maricopa County reach deal on audit dispute

Maricopa County will avoid losing nearly $700 million in state-shared revenue and the Arizona Senate will be able to pose the questions it has about previously withheld materials that it subpoenaed for its review of the 2020 election results in the county. 

/* code for tag simpli.fi */