Faith in the ballot: Arizona Republicans run on election fraud claims – 60 Minutes

It’s the vote that holds America together—the belief that when you vote, voices are heard, disputes are resolved, and there’s always another chance. Countries without this faith tend to be in slavery or at war. Election Day is approaching, but faith is under attack across America. Politicians who say the 2020 election was stolen are running for governor in 19 states; Attorney General at 10; and in 12 states, those who deny the election are running for secretary of state, which would give them power over the election. After two years of investigations and audits, no state has found fraud or errors that would have changed the 2020 results. But in 2022, spreading doubt has become key to Donald Trump’s support. No state has been more divided by this than Arizona, where a split in the Republican Party has left Republicans on opposite sides of the grand canyon.

On one side of the Arizona divide is Rusty Bowers, a lifelong Republican and artist turned speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. Bauer told us he was disappointed with Joe Biden’s victory, so when President Trump and Rudy Giuliani called after the election, he listened.

Rusty Bowers: Rudy started first. He said, “Well, there’s been a lot of fraud around the country and in Arizona,” and then listed big numbers in categories that would be illegal. Dead people, stolen ballots.

Bowers says Giuliani wanted him to hold a vote to recall Biden voters.

Rusty Bowers: And I said, “But Rudy, I want proof. Will you give me proof?” And he said, “Yes.”

So Giuliani and a second attorney, Jenna Ellis, flew out to meet Bowers.

Scott Pelley: Did you leave your meeting with Rudy Giuliani thinking about what?

Rusty Bowers: That I wasn’t happy. I said, “Okay. Time out. Mr. Giuliani, you said you were going to bring me some evidence. Names, etc. of all these people. Have you brought me evidence?” And he looked at Jenna Ellis and said, “Do we have proof?” She replied, “Yes, there is.” – Well, do you have it with you? “No. No. I…” “Where is it?” “Well, it could be in a hotel room.” And I said, “I asked you for proof. You said you would bring them. You don’t bring them. You are asking me to break my oath of office and invent something to sway voters and replace voters, something that has never been done in the history of the United States. And I will try it in my state?”

Rusty Bowers

Without Bowers, Giuliani found an ally willing to call the vote criminal, Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem.

Mark Fincham November 30, 2020: I find it very difficult to put a label on what we are hearing other than racketeering, good old mobster racketeering.

Four weeks after Mr. Trump’s defeat, Fincham held an informal hearing with Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani November 30, 2020: A Conspiracy Conceived by Devious Democratic Party Leaders.

The days of accusations without credible evidence are over.

Mark Fincham November 30, 2020: When Satan wants to put out the light, he will stop at nothing. So be alert, put on the full armor of God, and be ready to fight.

Mark Fincham struggled. And now, the 65-year-old former police officer is the Republican nominee for Arizona secretary of state, which will give him electoral authority.

Mark Fincham January 15, 2022: Ladies and gentlemen, we know it and they know it. Donald Trump won!

But Mark Brnovich does not know this. He is the Republican Attorney General of Arizona, who spent two years investigating the cases and has the power to charge fraud.

Mark Brnovich: “Horse****” And that’s it. It’s mostly horses****. And I’ve spent the last year trying to scrape… scrape it off my shoes.

Brnovich supported Trump, who called him with advice.

Mark Brnovich: He’s coming, all you have to do is say the election is rigged and you’ll be a superstar. You will be the most popular guy in America. And I told him, I said, Mr. President, I didn’t become attorney general to be a star. I brought my star with me. And I don’t need anyone, whether it’s a former president or anyone else, to validate what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

What he is doing is indicting every voter fraud case in 2020 that he can back up with evidence. To date, since the general election, Arizona has indicted 12 defendants in cases involving 12 ballots — 12 — across the state. Biden won Arizona by 10,000.

Mark Brnovich: There was no one in this country who wanted to find evidence of fraud more than I did, but I thought it was important to look systematically and say no, these are the facts, these are the evidence, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you’re a real prosecutor, if you’re a real government, there’s a higher duty, you can’t afford to be sloppy.

Mark Brnovich

In addition to the Brnovich investigations, in 2021 the Republican-led state senate audited Maricopa County in Phoenix, where 60% of the state’s voters voted. The audit was conducted by a company that has never audited elections. An audited count of hands confirmed Joe Biden’s victory. But his report also raised questions about the discrepancies it found. Maricopa County has detailed answers to these questions online. However, widespread fraud is the accusation of Mark Fincham.

Mark Fincham January 5, 2021: When you steal something, it’s not really winning, it’s cheating.

This was in Washington the day before the attack on the Capitol which Fincham thus describes.

Mark Fincham June 30, 2022: All this J6 crap was manufactured to create a narrative that the Capitol was stormed. Does this fit into the Marxist ideology of how to transition to one party rule?

Today, Finchem is running against his Democratic opponent, Adrian Fontes, who helped bring about the 2020 election in Maricopa County.

Adrian Fontes: We are too divided from each other, based on lies and conspiracy. And we as election administrators across Arizona need to do a better job of showing people that the system is pretty good.

Adrian Fontes

Mark Fincham: I’d like to see a world where it’s easy to vote but hard to cheat

We asked Finchem for reliable evidence of fraud. He did not raise evidence, but issues of the state senate audit. Finchem then told us about the mysterious post-election email he showed at the rally.

Mark Fincham October 9, 2021: We had a whistleblower who sent an email not only to the Justice Department, but to every legislature, saying that there were 34,000 to 35,000 fraudulent voters and they were put into the system, where you will never find them. Well, we think we’ve found them.

In the email Finchem is talking about, “Brian Watson” said Democrats had added fake electronic ballots in Pima County. The writer had no proof, asked not to be contacted and closed his email.

Scott Pelley: Why do you believe that?

Mark Fincham: Again, that’s an open question. I want to know if there was any chance that this happened? Now we’ve proven it happens, Scott.

Scott Pelley: How so?

Mark Fincham: We have two precincts where over 100% of the people registered to vote at that precinct voted. This is an indisputable fact.

But that’s denied by Pima County, which says no precinct had more votes than voters. Another of Finchem’s frequent points concerns a pair of indictments.

Mark Fincham September 22, 2022: In Yuma County, for example, we have ballots and votes being collected. I mean, we have people who have been charged with the very things we’re talking about now, who have pleaded guilty. And frankly, those votes changed the outcome of Yuma County.

Mark Fincham: In Yuma County, we’ve had indictments and people plead guilty to ballot-trafficking.

Scott Pelley: How many ballots were involved?

Mark Fincham: I don’t know off the top of my head.

Scott Pelley: Four.

Mark Fincham: “Kay. Four or four thousand – it doesn’t matter.

Scott Pelley: It wasn’t a presidential election; it was primary.

Mark Fincham: Doesn’t matter. This is a flaw in the system.

Small defect. Two women in Yuma County have pleaded guilty to collecting four ballots and dropping them in a ballot box. Casting a ballot that does not belong to you or your family is prohibited by state law.

Mark Fincham

Scott Pelley: That’s four ballots in the primary.

Mark Fincham: In that case. In that case.

Scott Pelley: Do you have a bigger one?

Mark Fincham: Well, we have information that was given to the attorney general’s office, and you say there was nothing. GOOD. Then I’ll have to live with it. But do I know for sure that there were other ballot-trafficking operations around the country and some in Arizona? Yes, I am.

Scott Pelley: Name one.

Mark Fincham: Yuma County, 25,000 ballots.

Scott Pelley: What happened?

Mark Fincham: The same fingerprints are on these ballots for five people. So where did it go? Where is this evidence? I know it was referred to the Attorney General’s office. I know the FBI field office did make prints.

According to the FBI, this is false. Yuma County told us no law enforcement officials fingerprinted 25,000 ballots. Finchem often says that the evidence is with Attorney General Brnovich, implying that something big is brewing.

Mark Fincham: Actually, he has a mountain of evidence in his office.

But Brnovich told us that his investigation is almost over.

Mark Brnovich: As prosecutors, we deal with facts and evidence. And I’m not like the clowns who throw things at the wall and see what sticks.

Scott Pelley: Clowns?

Mark Brnovich: Clowns. Did I say that? Yeah, I think there’s a lot of clowns that– they saw what they wanted to see. What’s that Simon and Garfunkel quote that– “A man hears what he wants to hear and ignores the rest”? There’s a lot going on.

It’s happening in Arizona’s top race, where a Republican is denying the governorship.

Curry Lake June 27, 2022: We’ve had a rigged election, a corrupt election, and we have an illegitimate president in the White House.

Mark Brnovich: In a way, it’s like a giant operation.

Scott Pelley: Cheating, fraud, is that what you’re talking about?

Mark Brnovich: Yes.

Scott Pelley: All these allegations, the Hume case is fear mongering. Brian Watson’s email is scary. You called Arizona the epicenter of fraud, that’s scary. It’s not rigging that breaks people’s faith in our elections, it’s people like you.

Mark Fincham: That’s what you say. But if we look at violations of state law, then this is the epicenter of the problem.

According to the Brookings Institution, nationwide, 190 people who deny the election are running for the US House of Representatives and 14 for the US Senate. Mark Brnovich lost the primary to a denialist, and so did Rusty Bowers, which may be a relief.

After the election, Trump supporters and conspirators besieged Bowers’ home up to three times a week. He had to fend off them—the man with the gun—the demonstrators in his own armored vehicle.

And on January 6, 2021, they came to the state capital with rifles and a guillotine. In Arizona, when faith in voting waned, it filled a void.

Scott Pelley: Has the Republican Party you’ve known all your life been taken over?

Rusty Bowers: It’s a big group of them doing the hijacking. I just don’t think it’s the majority. Its effectiveness as a party and its legitimacy in public discourse are seriously undermined by the way they have operated in this state.

Produced by Aaron Weiss. Associate Producer Ian Flickinger. Broadcaster Michelle Karim. Edited by Warren Lustig.

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