Arizona Senate, Dark Money Group Agreed to Donate $20K to Arizona Rangers for Audit Security | Phoenix New Times

Karen Fann Agreed to Make $20K 'Contribution' to Arizona Rangers for Audit Security, Docs Show

The word "compensation" is crossed out and above that, the word "contribution" is written in hand.
Arizona Rangers State Commander Michael Droll now says he doesn't know why he wasn't more forthcoming in April about the group's role.
Arizona Rangers State Commander Michael Droll now says he doesn't know why he wasn't more forthcoming in April about the group's role. Ray Stern
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The Arizona State Senate and a GOP dark money group helped arrange for security for the senate's ballot audit, fresh documents show, with one agreement requiring the state to donate $20,000 to the Arizona Rangers.

Senate President Karen Fann had ignored repeated questions in recent weeks about who authorized the Rangers' presence in and around Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds, where the audit is being conducted. The Rangers, a state-recognized quasi-law enforcement group, has provided more than a dozen uniformed officers to work the audit, which supporters claim will help show whether fraud was a factor in the 2020 general election and which critics — among them, newly elected Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, who recently called the audit "insane" — say has been run in an untrustworthy and incompetent manner.

In an article published on April 29, the Rangers state commander, Michael Droll, told Phoenix New Times that the question of who authorized the group was "intelligence" and that nobody would answer it. As New Times reported at the time, the Rangers — a group made up mostly of current and former law enforcement officers — were already benefiting from their association with the audit as supporters sent thousands of dollars to a GoFundMe account. As of this week, the account total had reached $182,705.

Last week, following a request for public records under state law, the state senate released seven pages of agreements for services (below) to New Times, including one between the senate and Arizona Rangers that had been signed by Fann and Droll. It states that the senate will pay $20,000 for the Rangers' services, with the word "compensation" crossed out and above that, the word "contribution" written in hand.

The $20,000 has not yet been paid. The senate has so far made only one payment "to any entity pursuant to an agreement regarding the audit and that was in April to Cyber Ninjas for $50,000," said Norm Moore, the senate's public records attorney. The $50,000 was for the first payment stemming from the agreement between the Arizona State Senate and Cyber Ninjas, Moore said.

The seven pages of agreements show first that a Glendale company called Law Enforcement Specialists, Inc., contracted with an entity called Coliseum Security for Ballot Counting to acquire and provide security officers for the audit, and to manage their human resources requirements. That three-page document was signed by Senator Fann on April 27.

Following that is a one-page service agreement for four "DPS troopers" and four vehicles, who would provide 24-hour coverage at the rate of $60 per hour, with a vehicle rate of $12.75 per hour, between April 28 and May 17. No total amount is given.

The document states that the "buyer" is the Guardian Defense Fund, described in a recent Arizona Republic article as a dark money group created by Republican supporter Dwight Kadar "to help U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., state Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, and former state Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, address assertions about their activities" on January 6, the day of the U.S. Capitol riot. It formed in February as a social welfare nonprofit, not a political group that would be subject to donor disclosure laws.

Kadar, reached by New Times, said he didn't know how the fund came to help the state Senate with security for the ballot audit, but that the fund's treasurer, Randy Pullen, had handled it. Pullen, a former GOP state chair who now serves as a spokesperson for the audit, didn't return a message.

The document also gives the phone number and email of Mike Droll of the Arizona Rangers as the contact for the Guardian Defense Fund, as well as the names "Andre/John/Mike" and several other phone numbers. Droll said he had no idea why his name was listed there as a contact, and that it must be a mistake.

Bart Graves, spokesperson for the state DPS, said that troopers are working off-duty at the Coliseum and "being paid by a private contractor." That's all he knows, and DPS is not involved with the company that hired the troopers, he added.

Another document shows an April 20 agreement with Anderson Security Agency to provide two armed officers for seven days at the audit; it's signed by Karen Fann and Anderson Security CEO Kimberly Matich.

A separate, one-page document dated April 27 indicates the terms of the arrangements with the Arizona Rangers, a nonprofit group of volunteer members with chapters throughout the state and a history that goes back to pre-statehood days. The group is to provide services including "to deter improper activity from occurring," as well as other duties needed. The document makes it clear that the Rangers are not a law enforcement agency and are not responsible for enforcing laws.

Droll, in an interview on Tuesday, acknowledged that he worked with Fann to create the arrangement. The Rangers never asked for any particular dollar amount, and doesn't require a fee, he said. He said he doesn't know how the senate came up with the amount of $20,000. The Rangers did, however, insist that the contract state the $20,000 would be a contribution, not compensation, he said.

"We require nothing for our community-based services," he said. "We don't write contracts."

Asked why he didn't reveal the arrangement with the senate when asked in April who had brought the group in, Droll said he didn't know, but added that when the audit first began, the press was "sneaking" around and he was concerned the public might be misinformed.

Fann failed to return a message about the agreements.

The hand-count of 2.1 million ballots is reportedly in its final stages.

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