A Republican Arizona state Senator who said she was threatened over not supporting a partisan Maricopa County 2020 election audit has abruptly resigned her position as chair of a key Senate committee.
State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita was initially a supporter of the audit conducted by the firm Cyber Ninjas but had soured on the “botched” exercise by July, while accusing Republican state Senate President Karen Fann of a “total lack of competence.”
On Friday, Ugenti-Rita sent Fann a resignation letter, informing Fann that she was stepping down from her role as leader of the Senate Government Committee.
“I am writing to inform you that effective immediately, I am withdrawing from my position as Chairman and member of the Senate Government Committee,” Ugenti-Rita wrote to Fann. “I will continue to serve as a member of my three other committee assignments for the duration of the next legislative session.”
Ugenti-Rita, currently a candidate for Arizona Secretary of State, did not indicate why she was leaving the leadership position. However, she did suggest that her commitment to “election integrity” was a motivating factor.
“My longstanding commitment to advancing real election integrity is what drives me,” she wrote. “As always, I stand ready and committed to achieve success in reforming our election system and having a productive 2022 legislative session.”
Ugenti-Rita tweeted a screenshot of a purported email from a man who threatened her over not backing the Maricopa County audit on September 10. The man wrote that she had “one chance to give the American people the Audit report or were [sic] coming for you,” warning that he knew where she lived, where she shopped for groceries and where her family lived.
“Got this yesterday,” Ugenti-Rita tweeted alongside the screenshot. “It’s been sent to law enforcement. My family’s safety is my #1 priority & I will NOT tolerate anyone going after me or my family. Due to misinformation & the unmet expectations of the public surrounding the audit, threats like this will unfortunately continue.”
The audit, which was commissioned at the behest of Fann and the GOP-led state Senate, has been widely criticized for alleged partisan bias and a lack of credibility.
Ugenti-Rita was not the only Republican critic. GOP state Sen. Paul Boyer, also a former audit supporter, said that the effort made Republicans “look like idiots.”
A group of three election experts, headed by a data analyst for the Arizona Republican Party, issued a damning report on Friday alleging that the Cyber Ninjas audit contained “made up” numbers that left thousands of ballots uncounted. The experts called the “meaningless” exercise a “hoax” and “a shameful episode in America’s history.”
Although the controversial election review ultimately found that President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump by a slightly larger margin than in the official results, Trump and his loyalists have ignored the vote count and baselessly touted other questionable findings of the audit as evidence of massive election fraud.
Newsweek reached out to Fann and Ugenti-Rita for comment.