PHOENIX — A Republican state senator who has backed away from the election audit she once supported is now the victim of at least one threat.
“You have one chance to give the American people the Audit report or were coming for you,” said a text message sent Friday morning to Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, from someone identified as `”Matt Boster.”
“We know where you live, we know where you get your groceries and we know where your family lives,” the message said. “You better do the right thing or your going to feel the consequences.”
Ugenti-Rita, who reposted the message on Twitter, said it has been turned over to law enforcement.
“My family’s safety is my #1 priority and I will NOT tolerate anyone going after me or my family,” she said. But the senator said she expects “threats like this” to continue because of what she calls “misinformation and the unmet expectations of the public surrounding the audit.”
She 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 the hiring by Senate President Karen Fann 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 moths 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.
In a prepared statement, Fann said threats on lawmakers are “completely unacceptable,” regardless of their position on the audit.
“I understand passions run high on the issue of voter integrity,” the Senate president said. “But personal attacks and threats of violence cross the line.”