Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita today tweeted a threat she received from a supporter of the Senate’s audit of the 2020 election.
Ugenti-Rita, a Scottsdale Republican who has questioned the credibility of the audit, shared with her more than 8,000 Twitter followers the email that contained misspellings and grammatical errors, but the message was clear.
“You better do the right thing or your going to feel the consequences,” the person, identified as “Matt Boster,” wrote.
Ugenti-Rita said she got the email Thursday and she has passed it on to police.
Ugenti-Rita said in an interview with Arizona Capitol Times the threat came through her legislative account and that her phone began blowing up with a surge of increasingly worse and volatile messages suggesting she’s to blame for delays in concluding the audit.
Ugenti-Rita said she’s as frustrated as anyone about the delays in releasing the final report and she fears something serious will happen if it isn’t released soon.
“This has got to conclude, it’s getting scary out there,” she said.
She said she made the threat public to bring attention to the volatile environment right now and in hopes to protect everyone.
“This is something deeper, part of a bigger sentiment that is brewing,” Ugenti-Rita said.
She said investigators with the state will be trying to track down the sender and will do a risk assessment of her home.
“My family’s safety is my #1 priority & I will NOT tolerate anyone going after me or my family,” she tweeted. “Due to misinformation & the unmet expectations of the public surrounding the audit, threats like this will unfortunately continue.”
Ugenti-Rita’s tweet came a few hours after Senate President Karen Fann disclosed in a press release a senator had been threatened, but she provided no details.
“No matter where a person stands on the issue of an audit of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County, or any other matter of public policy, making a threat to a legislator or their family is completely unacceptable,” Fann said in the written statement.
The email sender said he knows where the senator and her family lives and where she shops for groceries.
“… you have one chance to give the American people the audit report or were coming for you,” the email read.
The final report of the unprecedented audit by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm, has been delayed for weeks because some of the auditors caught Covid, but it is expected to come next week.
Ugenti-Rita did not return calls seeking further comment.
Ugenti-Rita incurred the wrath of many of those who believe the election was stolen after she changed her mind about the audit.
The senator said she backed the idea when it was first proposed after Joe Biden outpolled Donald Trump in Arizona by 10,457 votes statewide, winning the state’s 11 electoral votes. That included the Democrat getting 45,109 more votes than the Republican incumbent in Maricopa County.
All that changed, she said, amid questions about how the audit was being conducted, including Fann’s hiring of Cyber Ninjas, a firm that had never done similar work.
“Sadly, it’s now become clear that the audit has been botched,” Ugenti-Rita said in a Twitter post in July.
“The total lack of competence by Fann over the last five months has deprived the voters of Arizona a comprehensive accounting of the 2020 election,” she continued. “That’s inexcusable, but it shows what can happen when Republicans do not take election integrity seriously.”
She also came under fire for refusing to support a proposal by Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, that essentially was a wish list of fixes the Mesa lawmaker said needed to be made in how elections are administered.
For example, the amendment brought up during Senate debate sought to set up a procedure for county or state prosecutors to get involved when there is an inconsistency between someone’s signature on an early ballot and what is on file with the county recorder.
It also dealt with a requirement that people who register to vote in Arizona must cancel their registration in the state from which they moved. And it provided that anyone who votes at a polling place get a paper receipt showing their ballot has been accepted.
But Ugenti-Rita said many of these issues never got a public airing in the Government Committee which she chairs. and she said it makes little sense to make massive changes in election laws now, before the Senate-ordered audit is completed and recommendations are made for necessary fixes to the law.
Her refusal left Townsend’s amendment without sufficient votes for approval.
Ugenti-Rita, who is running for secretary of state, said she has supported measure to protect election integrity.
While the threat Ugenti-Rita received Thursday appears to be the most recent example, she is not the first elected official to receive threats related to the 2020 election or the audit. Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, had to get police protection and temporarily leave his home after joining the Democrats in February to vote against holding Maricopa County supervisors in contempt and potentially arresting them; and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and her staff have also received threats from election fraud believers, prompting her to request protection from Dept. of Public Safety officers.
Maricopa County supervisors, who have opposed the audit from the start, have also received threats, and some lawmakers such as House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, and Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, have had protesters show up at their homes, Shope most recently due to his opposition to HB2190, which would have barred private businesses from asking employees or customers about vaccination status.
Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, said no Democratic senators or staffers have been threatened recently related to the audit as far as she knows, although their assistants are told to, and sometimes do, report threatening emails and phone calls to DPS.
“Unfortunately those types of emails are more frequent than they used to be back in the 2000s,” Rios said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s not uncommon, that’s for darn sure.”
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services and Capitol Times reporter Nathan Brown contributed to this story.
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