Evidence abounds that in all likelihood the 2006 RTA ballot initiative (committing Pima County, Arizona, voters to pay via sales taxes $2 billion for improvements in local streets) was rigged [see here and references therein and/or my earlier OEN report]. In 2007, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard finally responded to pressure from Tucson election-integrity activists by initiating an investigation ...to be jointly carried out between his office and the Pima County Election Department (listed in the complaint as the suspects!). Not surprisingly, the alleged perps ignored the devastating evidence of rigging offered them by activists John Brakey, Jim March, and Bill Risner and with the tacit support of the AG's Office rigged the investigation of themselves to produce (surprise!) no incriminating results [see my condensed history].
But the Pima County Democratic Party represented by attorney Bill Risner continued to press the issue in the courts, adding more and more evidence that the RTA initiative passed only due to vote flipping carried out by the Pima County election-computer operator Brian Crane, and they demanded that the actual paper ballots be recounted to prove or disprove this conclusion. It eventually became apparent that the only official in Arizona with the authority (and obligation) to order such a recount is AG Terry Goddard (a Democrat) ...who repeatedly insisted that there is insufficient evidence to justify such a recount and/or that voter "curiosity" is insufficient reason to let the voter know whether or not his/her vote had been stolen.
Last week, the Pima Republican Party aligned itself behind the Democratic Party's lawsuit, which had already been joined by the Libertarian Party. And this Monday morning representatives of all three parties were in the courtroom of Pima County Superior Court Judge Charles Harrington to jointly press their demand that the RTA ballots be recounted.
What actually happened in that courtroom Monday morning was beyond bizarre. The judge pointed to some obscure point of law, which he argued excused him from hearing further arguments and thus concluded that the suit should be heard by the Appellate Court (see my last paragraph for a glimpse of what was actually going on beneath the surface!). In the ensuing brief discussion it came out that AG Goddard had just issued a secret order to take custody of the RTA ballots. Apparently, the secrecy was intended to keep only the plaintiffs in the dark, since the judge whimsically wondered out loud if this secret order was the same one he heard in the local news.
It seems that Goddard's plan is now to remove the ballots from a vault where they were totally secure and to transfer them to Maricopa County (where citizen poll watchers during the 2008 general election witnessed election officials routinely flouting election laws, especially regarding ballot chain of custody – and where the election department owns a ballot printer capable of spewing out brand new ballots matching any template used in the past). While Goddard has pledged that "...strict security measures will be taken to secure the ballots and the investigative process," he has yet to invite authorized representatives of the three major parties to witness the transportation and storage of these ballots. AND their protracted storage in Maricopa County is a clear and present invitation for someone there to tamper with them.
So Monday morning's court hearing before a full house of concerned citizens ended practically before it started. From the plaintiff's view point, the only good thing to transpire was the presence of the Tucson Channel 13 (KOLD) news team headed by veteran newscaster Bud Foster, who spent the better part of an hour interviewing Bill Risner outside the courthouse, before demanding that a Republican put on the microphone to assure balance in his newscast. Republican 2006 CD 8 congressional candidate Randy Graf promptly stepped forward and essentially seconded all of Risner's concerns about the integrity of Pima County elections. Unfortunately, Bud Foster's excellent news broadcast that evening was quickly removed from the internet (I wonder why?). However, they can't suppress these parts of the same interview filmed by independent videographer J.T. Waldron.
Now here is a bit of the story behind the story that led to the bizarre null outcome of Monday mornings's hearing: It seems that Judge Harrington had previously thrown roadblocks in front of the objectives sought by the Democratic Party's lawsuit and had shown himself to be inclined toward never deciding the case. However, the Democratic Party also has an additional pending lawsuit requesting the poll tapes of the RTA election (an additional form of evidence as to whether or not the ballots we counted correctly), which is assigned to Judge Javier Chon-Lopez of the same Superior Court as Judge Charles Harrington. Having a different judge for this case was good for the Democrats (and their like-thinking Libertarian and Republican allies) since, according to Bill Risner, Harrington had unequivocally refused to consider "the constitutional provisions and case law submitted to him." Hence, it was absolutely clear that Harrington would never allow those pleadings to be filed. Meanwhile, the dark forces working behind the scenes (read the AG's office) were maneuvering to have Harrington also hear the case presently assigned to Judge Chon-Lopez; in fact, they had filed a Motion to Consolidate the two cases before Harrington. It is for this reason alone that Bill Risner filed a notice of appeal before the hearing on Monday, i.e., in order to deprive Harrington of the opportunity to commit further mischief to the Democrats' case. The notice of appeal pertained to only a part of the Democratic Party's case, and so on Monday morning Bill explained to the judge that he could still go ahead and hear the other parts. Harrington, however, seeing the large crowd room, decided to use the Risner's appeal as a tendentious excuse to pass on a hot potato; thus, he claimed that he did not have jurisdiction to do anything and therefore was "compelled" to terminate the hearing.
Updates: Anyone reading this at a later date wishing to know how this story is playing out in real time should hit the Election Defence Alliance home page, which has been featuring the continuing saga, now that Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has sequestered the Pima County RTA ballots without a transparent chain of custody and is carrying out a recount in Maricopa County(!) with the general public barred from witnessing the count and only one approved representative each from the Pima County Democratic and Republican parties being admitted, but constantly hounded by armed officers from the AG's office.