AG Mark Brnovich questions former Maricopa County election official

In this Jan. 7, 2020, file photo, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich speaks at a news conference in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Bob Christie, File)

Former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said Monday he was questioned by investigators from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office about the 2020 election.

The questioning of Fontes, a Democrat who oversaw mail-in balloting last year but lost his own re-election bid, suggests Brnovich is pressing ahead with his pledge to review the findings of the state Senate Republicans’ partisan review of the 2020 election. That review, led and almost entirely funded by supporters of former President Donald Trump, confirmed President Joe Biden’s victory in Maricopa County but spread falsehoods about alleged malfeasance.

Brnovich is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate but could be weighed down by sharp criticism from Trump, who retains considerable sway with the GOP base. Trump repeatedly attacked Brnovich earlier this year as “lackluster,” claiming the attorney general wasn’t doing enough to advance the false claim that Trump’s loss in Arizona was the result of fraud.

Fontes, who is running in a contested Democratic primary for secretary of state, said he spoke for about an hour Monday morning with two special agents from Brnovich’s office. He said the discussion was “professional and collegial,” but he said the agents did not seem to know much about election systems.

“If they were trying to build an actual case, they would’ve been prepared before they asked me any questions,” Fontes told The Associated Press. “This is nothing more than political box-checking and an abuse of power by a desperate Republican Senate nominee.”

Fontes said the agents asked “about the archiving of data to the server” but did not disclose other specific lines of inquiry.

Brnovich’s office declined to comment.

While Biden and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly won at the top of the ticket in Maricopa County, Democrats did not fare well in down-ticket races, including Fontes’ bid for re-election. The Republican who beat him, Stephen Richer, has repeatedly defended the 2020 election.

Brnovich said last month that he would look into the findings of Cyber Ninjas, which led the Senate Republicans’ review of the 2020 election. While it confirmed that Biden won in Maricopa County, it also spun falsehoods about deleted data, double voting and other malfeasance in a report that ignored basic facts about how elections are run

“I will take all necessary actions that are supported by the evidence and where I have legal authority,” Brnovich said at the time. “Arizonans deserve to have their votes accurately counted and protected.”

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.