Pressure builds on Brnovich to act 

Pressure builds on Brnovich to act 

2020 file photo. (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)

Once derided as “useless” by figures near Donald Trump for shooting down election conspiracy theories, Attorney General Mark Brnovich has maintained a cautious silence as he faces another round of calls for action from his own party related the 2020 election audit. 

“We’re now anxiously waiting for Attorney General Brnovich and hopefully he’s going to do his job,” Trump said at a rally in Florence on January 15, saying he was counting on Brnovich to turn up widespread fraud in the 2020 election. “I think he’s a good man, I think he’s going to do his job – we’ll find out. I think it’s a very easy job to do, because anybody with any common sense is going to look, they’re going to take a look, and they’re going to say this was a total fraud.”   

As Trump spoke, Brnovich, who’s seeking the Republican nomination in Arizona’s U.S. Senate race, posted a photo of the two smiling and flashing a thumbs-up and peace sign. “Great to have you in Arizona Mr. President!” he wrote in a Tweet. 

Brnovich’s office has declined to say whether the AG is looking into allegations around the 2020 election, though there’s evidence that the AG is undertaking some kind of probe. Former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes revealed that, in October, investigators from Brnovich’s office interviewed him about the 2020 contest. 

But the AG hasn’t always kept mum on election fraud allegations. 

Days after the election, he shot down “Sharpiegate” theories in an official letter that he shared on Twitter and in an appearance on Fox News. That’s what drew the “useless” comment from onetime White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, according to a Politico report. 

And in April 2021, after Secretary of State Katie Hobbs urged him to investigate the audit for potentially violating state laws, Brnovich didn’t investigate – but he did issue a reply to the request. “This does not meet the standard of a credible allegation – it is speculation insufficient to support the request for an official investigation,” he wrote to Hobbs. 

Then, in September, the Senate and Cyber Ninjas released their audit report, which found that Joe Biden indeed won Arizona’s 2020 presidential election, but also insinuated that additional investigation could turn up the widespread fraud that some legislators alleged occurred. At that point, Senate President Karen Fann pointed to Brnovich. She said she’d turned over audit documents to the attorney general and it was up to him to take it from there. 

“He’s got the staff, he’s got the money – I want him to do it,” Fann said. Months later, pro-audit legislators have only upped their demands, calling for “perp walks” for those who carried out what they say was a stolen election. 

Recently, demands for election investigation have come from the other side of the aisle, but Brnovich’s response has been the same. After additional revelations about false electoral college certificate, Democrats said Brnovich should investigate a document signed by 11 Arizona Republicans that purported to give the state’s presidential votes to Trump. Brnovich’s office hasn’t responded to questions asking if he’s investigating – and it not, why not. 

Republicans have also gotten the silent treatment from Brnovich on another hot-button topic. In October, Rep. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, asked Brnovich to weigh in on the constitutional merits of a novel legal theory that holds that states can effectively conduct their own border enforcement by declaring that they’re facing “invasion.” As of last week, Brnovich hadn’t replied. 

For now, there seems to be an uneasy equilibrium, with Brnovich maintaining his silence and his fellow caucus members applying pressure, but avoiding outright criticism. 

On January 15, in Florence, Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, led the crowd in a call-and-response chant telling the Brnovich to make arrests related to the 2020 election. “What do we want?” she asked. “Indictments!” the crowd roared. “When do we want them?” “Now!” 

Before the last round, Townsend cried: “One more for Brnovich!”