Siegel: Ward’s GOP party election needs an audit

Posted 4/23/21

On Jan. 23, 2021, the Republican State Committee voted for a new state chairman and other officers and bylaw changes and additions at their annual meeting.

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Siegel: Ward’s GOP party election needs an audit

Posted

On Jan. 23, 2021, the Republican State Committee voted for a new state chairman and other officers and bylaw changes and additions at their annual meeting. As a Republican State Committeeman, I attended that meeting and voted for myself and for one other person through a proxy.

What I observed at that meeting was stunning. People were taking ballots without accountability to anyone. These ballots were at the foot of the stage where there should have been oversight but there was not. In fact, I could have taken a handful of ballots and voted several times without anyone challenging me. I did see others take multiple ballots without the bar codes being scanned or any other form of control by the officials occurring.

Further, there were three major candidates running for state chairman. These were Kelli Ward running for reelection, Bob Lettiere and Sergio Arellano. The result was that the two opponents to Kelli Ward received 54% of the vote and Ward received 46%. Both of the opposing candidates did not want Ward reelected which is why they ran.

At the end of the vote, it was announced that there would be a runoff between Ward and Arellano, who came in second place.

Before that second vote took place, Bob Lettiere announced that his supporters should vote for Arellano as he did not want to see Kelli Ward back in the chairman’s position.

So how could it happen that Kelli Ward got 52% of the vote in the runoff and Arellano got 48%?

Perhaps Ward did win fairly, but the circumstances surrounding that vote raised serious questions to the point that a recount and independent audit were essential.

Further, Ward announced at the meeting that Dr. Sandra Dowling won the at-large seat from Congressional District 8 as Dr. Dowling had run for that seat. Yet, within hours after the meeting was over, Ward changed that result and announced that Dr. Dowling did not win. This was after she had gaveled the meeting closed and presumably all results were official.

It was well known that Dr. Dowling opposed the reelection of Ward to the chairman’s position, so the serious question is raised as to whether Ward removed Dr. Dowling as retaliation against Dr. Dowling. It is also true that Ward had removed a state committeeman, Lynda Gunderson, from her position until Dr. Dowling insisted she be reinstated. There had been no reason to remove Gunderson other than the fact that she was an ally of Dr. Dowling, who early on opposed the reelection of Ward.

In addition, William Beard is a long-time activist in the state Republican Committee. His underlying and committed area of activity is in party integrity, election integrity and fulfilling his role in the State Party with honor and unwavering adherence to truth. He also opposed Ward in her reelection bis.

As it turns out, he lost his bid for the Congressional District 2 at-large committee member by three votes. Normally, one would accept the reality that such a close vote should be susceptible to, at a bare minimum, a recount.

But of course, Kelli Ward is not reasonable and there was no recount. Anyone looking at the totality of facts in this election process would come to the reasonable conclusion that there should be a forensic audit of the vote with an independent third-party having access to the machines, the ballots and any other pertinent material.

Again, the legitimate question is raised as to whether Beard lost by three votes or whether he lost by three votes because it was retribution from Ward because Beard opposed her reelection. Without a recount, we cannot know the answer to that question.

Kelli Ward consistently refused to allow this audit. That led to a lawsuit filed by Tim LaSota, an attorney who formally had been general counsel to the state Republican Party. On my radio program at KFNX in Phoenix, he stated that in his years working with and observing the state Republican Party, he had never seen such irresponsible and undermining behavior of the proper party processes as he was now observing by Kelli Ward.

That lawsuit is still pending. Mr. LaSota then filed a second lawsuit for a complete revote of the Jan. 23 election.

That was based on the bylaws of the party allowing for a revote when 20% of the State Committee members vote for that procedure, coming from the necessary number of counties.

That number was accomplished successfully, yet Ward misstated the facts to convey the false impression that the numbers were not met.

The original lawsuit requested of the Superior Court that the date be April 24. The Court said that the hearing could not take place that quickly, so the lawsuit is still active and will have a court hearing when appropriate. Unfortunately, the Republican Party Secretary Yvonne Cahill sent out an email leaving the impression that the lawsuit failed when in fact it was simply delayed.

At a meeting of the Pebble Creek Republican Club on April 17, Ward verbally abused, denigrated and insulted Dr. Dowling, who was seated in the front row of that presentation. Dr. Dowling had no opportunity to respond.

Finally, during that speech, Ward emphasized that the presidential vote of November 2020 was going through a complete audit by outside independent firms. Ward has been intensely supporting that view since the November 2020 election.

Is it not the height of hypocrisy that the legitimate concerns of hundreds of Republican State Committee members are blatantly rejected by Ward as she refuses to follow the by-laws as prescribed in such matters?

Ironically, this matter could have been settled with an independent forensic audit and Kelli Ward may have won that recount. Now, her behavior has raised deep and serious concern about her being fit for office.

I am reminded of the quote on the masthead of the Manchester Union-Leader in New Hampshire from the great Senator from the Granite State, Daniel Webster:

“There is nothing so powerful as truth.”

Kelli Ward will learn this lesson the hard way.

Mike Siegel is a Republican State Committeeman and talk radio host, who describes his views as conservative-libertarian. Visit mikesiegel.com.

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