The recent supplementary hearing on release of the GEMS election databases here in Pima County showed just how little substance there is to the County's objections to further public disclosure. They have been unable to substantiate their overheated claims that release of these public records would harm election security. They even admit that the Pima County political parties have been model citizens in handling the data responsibly. Yet, the county is even revisiting legal theories long disposed of in the trial, and trying to gain time by generating yet more ponderous 'fact-finding' by the County Administration.
Stripping away all the legal mumbo-jumbo, the County just looks foolish and is acting increasingly deranged over the whole affair.
If you don't want to watch the video you can read an excellent summary of supplementary hearing that will give you a good overview of the on-going issues—or lack thereof, actually.
If you have the stomach for it, the whole sorry hearing is online to eternally embarrass the County Attorneys involved, CHuckelberry who's pulling all the strings, and the Board of Supervisors who are ultimately responsible:
PART 1 (Judge Miller's comments, 6 min.):
PART 2 (Pima Dems' oral arguments, 29 min.):
PART 3 (Pima County's oral arguments, 49 min.):
PART 4 (Pima Dems' rebuttal, 21 min.):
NOTE: When I talk about "Pima County", I mean the majority of the Board of Supervisors, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, elections director Brad Nelson, and County Attorney Barbara LaWall and her civil deputies in charge of the case, especially Chris Straub.
Pima County has been getting increasingly deranged, dishonest, and down-right nasty over the election integrity issue. They seem to be painting themselves ever tighter into a corner, and getting angrier and angrier toward anyone who tries to point out that they are running out of room to maneuver.
If they are not hiding anything, they are certainly acting like they are, which only raises citizens' concerns even further. No knowledgeable observer can now believe that they are merely trying to vindicate a good-faith legal position. Their opposition to public oversight of our elections computers has veered into overt psycho-pathology.
Let me be more specific:
- Even though Judge Miller has clearly stated that the computer files the Democratic Party sought are public records (the ONLY issue is whether there are security concerns that would prevent or limit their release—and it's becoming increasingly obvious that there are NO actual security concerns attendant on the files' release) the County is seeking to deny the Democratic Party's attorney's fees on the grounds that they did not prevail. If you can't win the litigation, kill the lawyers...
- The County continues to maintain the fiction that releasing the GEMS databases constitutes a security threat to our elections despite their on-going inability to produce any expert testimony as to any security threat that does not boil down to 1) already existing threats that are not enhanced by release of the GEMS databases, 2) threats that are clearly and easily eliminated by due diligence by the County, and 3) threats of a very unspecific and speculative nature that amount basically to "chaos and discord." Pima County demonstrates they are lacking any sense of proportion by their refusal to recognize that GEMS is fundamentally flawed as to security and is wide open to insider manipulation of our elections. That condition represents a much greater threat to public confidence and the security of our elections than any of the imagined threats posed by release of the databases to all of the political parties soon after every election.
- Recent depositions make it clear that Pima County attorneys made arguments to the Court in the recent trial that they knew where simply absurd and did not reflect the good-faith legal position of relevant authorities. They alleged at trial that state law prevented the County from releasing the relevant data, despite being told by the Secretary of State's office that such an interpretation was contrary the SoS's own practice and the plain meaning of the relevant statute. The County Attorney's office demonstrated fundamental dishonesty toward the Court by even advancing such a defense. Their behavior might not rise to the level of an ethical breach, but it was a desperate and foolish attempt to advance a defense theory that had absolutely no support in the law. No public attorney whose duty is to seek justice, not just victory or delay at all costs, should have committed the State to such a dishonest and flimsy position. The stench of desperation hovers thick around this move, and I will elaborate more on this in a future post.
- Chuck Huckelberry has personally stooped to lying to the press about the actions of the Chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party to cover for the incompetence of his appointee, Elections Director Brad Nelson, in the recent primary election. I will elaborate more on this in future posts.
- The Democratic majority on the Board of Supervisors has apparently been convinced by the County Administrator and the County Attorney's office that the Democratic Party is being used as a hapless cat's paw to create chaos and discord at the behest of Ray Carroll. As a result, they continue to vote to prolong the legal controversy instead of taking a leadership decision to allow the political parties to exercise proper oversight of elections by delivering up the GEMS databases, consistent with the Court's finding that these are public records. Because of their paranoia and the misinformation they are receiving from the Count Administration and Attorney, at least two of the Democrats will face primary challenges inspired in large part by their lack of leadership and lack of cooperation with their own party. They have cut themselves off politically at the behest of the administrative leadership. They have become merely dupes for the County Administration, rather than a political leadership representing the people of Pima County. Election integrity is one of the few areas where there exists a broad non-partisan consensus, and they have put themselves on the wrong side of the issue, severely damaging their political credibility.
- The County Attorney's office has attempted to take a second bite at the apple by getting the Secretary of State's office to change the legal definition of software in the elections manual following Court's findings in the recent litigation. The stunning arrogance of this move is a slap in the face of the judiciary, and deeply troubling demonstration of how far the County Attorney's office will go to achieve victory for its own sake. They are no longer seeking wise public policy regarding elections and seem unwilling to accept the guidance and authority of the courts to interpret the law. I will also examine this issue more closely in a future post.
When taken in sum, the County Administration and Board are making legal claims that cannot be sustained in good faith, going after the Democratic Party's financial ability to sustain the suit, attacking and lying about a Democratic official to the public, bending the law to suit their agenda of keeping the public's nose out of our own elections, and flat-out fear-mongering, foot-dragging, and throwing as much bullshit as they can to try to bury the issues, out-last activists, and confuse the public on the fundamental issue: nothing stands between elections officials and the ability to steal elections at will, and very likely undetected. And the way they are acting, they don't deserve that kind of trust.