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'Our state has become a laughingstock': Officials slam Arizona's audit

There's no reason to believe Republican state senators will come to their senses, but the pressure from members of their own party is tough to overlook.

For three weeks, Arizona has been home to a truly ridiculous circus, orchestrated by Republican state senators who are consumed by bonkers conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections. They have even handed over millions of ballots to something called Cyber Ninjas, an unqualified Florida-based outfit tasked with conducting this "audit" fiasco.

A growing number of GOP officials in the state have grown tired of the nonsense and begun calling for this debacle to come to an end. The Republicans behind the "audit" -- who've already ignored the official count, a hand recount, and two independent audits -- refuse to budge.

Indeed, the Associated Press reported over the weekend, "Republican Senate President Karen Fann has demanded the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors come to the Senate to answer" Cyber Ninjas' questions. This wouldn't be an official state legislative hearing, but rather, a meeting to be livestreamed on a far-right outlet celebrated by Donald Trump.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors -- a five-member panel, four of whom are Republicans -- rejected the demand. Instead, as the Washington Post reported, the GOP-led board wrote a letter to their fellow Republicans in the state Senate, pleading with them to start coming to terms with reality.

The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Monday denounced an ongoing audit of the 2020 election vote as a "sham" and a "con," calling on the GOP-led state Senate to end the controversial recount that has been championed by former president Donald Trump. In a fiery public meeting and subsequent letter to state Senate President Karen Fann, the board members said the audit has been inept, promoted falsehoods and defamed the public servants who ran the fall election.

"It is time to make a choice to defend the Constitution and the Republic," they wrote. "We stand united together to defend the Constitution and the Republic in our opposition to the Big Lie. We ask everyone to join us in standing for the truth."

The local officials called the outlandish process a "spectacle that is harming all of us," adding, "Our state has become a laughingstock."

They went on to write, "You have rented out the once good name of the Arizona State Senate to grifters and con-artists, who are fundraising hard-earned money from our fellow citizens even as your contractors parade around the Coliseum, hunting for bamboo and something they call 'kinematic artifacts' while shining purple lights for effect. None of these things are done in a serious audit. The result is that the Arizona Senate is held up to ridicule in every corner of the globe and our democracy is imperiled."

The letter was signed by members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, as well as the local Democratic sheriff, and Stephen Richer, the local Republican official who oversees Maricopa County's elections department.

If Richer's name sounds familiar, he's the one who responded to Donald Trump's deranged comments over the weekend, describing the former president's preposterous nonsense as "unhinged." Richer added, "We can't indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country."

There's no reason to believe Republican state senators will come to their senses anytime soon, but the pressure from members of their own party is tough to overlook.