Arizona Republicans advanced a bill that would strip Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs of her powers after she criticized the controversial Republican-led election audit in Maricopa County, NBC News reports.
Republicans launched a so-called audit of the election results despite no evidence of fraud after a recount confirmed President Joe Biden’s win.
Hobbs repeatedly slammed the “political stunt” as a huge cost to taxpayers and criticized the sham procedures for breaking the chain of custody on ballots and machines that are legally required to be secured.
Hobbs called the stunt a “farce” that threatens the “integrity of our democracy.”
GOP advances sanctions:
The Republican-led Appropriations Committees in both the state Senate and House voted on Tuesday to strip Hobbs of her power to defend election lawsuits and replaces her with Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, through 2023 -- which is when Hobbs’ term ends.
“The legislature intends that the attorney general make all strategic decisions regarding election litigation and be allowed to intervene on behalf of this state if the attorney general determines, in the attorney general's sole discretion, that the intervention is appropriate,” the bill says.
The bill also bars the attorney general from representing the secretary of state or providing her office with legal advice until 2023. But it does allow Hobbs to hire exactly one full-time “equivalent position” to serve as a legal adviser, though it bans Hobbs from “spending or incurring indebtedness to employ outside or private attorneys to provide representation or services.”
Bills heads to full legislature:
The bill would still have to be approved by the full legislature but there are likely enough Republican votes to pass.
Hobbs called the bill an attack on voters.
"The fact that the legislature has singled me and my office for these unjustifiable restrictions — restrictions which expire at the end of my term — make it clear what this is really about: partisan politics,” she said in a statement. “The most extreme members of our legislature think they can stop me from doing my job and working on behalf of Arizona voters. I'll keep proving them wrong.”
Hobbs also alleged that Brnovich was "engaged in a pattern of behavior" that violate his ethical duties.
"He frequently sought to substitute his judgement for my own and allowed his political preferences to interfere with this obligation to represent me as a client, in my pursuit of the best interests of Arizona voters," she said. "Unfortunately, it appears AG Brnovich isn't asking forgiveness for his behavior — he's asking our legislature to authorize it.”