By Daniel Stefanski
Editors’ Note: This article is an important warning for every Arizona citizen concerned about election integrity. Secretary of State (SOS) Adrian Fontes has a long history of rabid partisanship as an elected official in offices that should be nonpartisan. As Maricopa County Recorder until 2021, Fontes ran aggressive voter registration drives in mostly Democrat areas utilizing his large office staff to conduct these activities inappropriately and against the regulations of his office. The Arizona Supreme Court has repeatedly stopped his election manipulation attempts to revise the Elections Procedure Manual and other inappropriate and Democrat-assisting maneuvers in his prior Maricopa County Recorder office and currently as Secretary of State. He is a partisan hack and a reason to fear the integrity of the approaching 2024 election here in Arizona. In 2020, The Prickly Pear interviewed Stephen Richer, the current Maricopa County Recorder who beat Fontes in the 2020 election. Richer stated in the interview that Fontes, the incumbent Recorder and his opponent, was incompetent and guilty of criminal behavior in the conduct of the office. Remarkably, Fontes is now the Secretary of State after the 2022 Arizona election that resulted in many ongoing questions and concerns about competence of Arizona elections. As SOS, Fontes has a critical role in Arizona’s election processes. He threatens the integrity and outcomes of the 2024 election and future elections by the clear partisan use of his office in multiple ways. The article below is the most recent example.
The Arizona Republican Party (AZGOP) gained a significant victory this week over Democrat Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.
On Monday, the AZGOP announced that the ‘Patriot Party’ “failed to secure enough valid signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot,” crediting the “unwavering dedication of over 50 volunteers who…meticulously reviewed over 37,000 signatures by hand.”
This update came days after the Party had issued a press release to accuse Fontes of “misusing his office to influence elections.”
In that communication, the AZGOP explained that the “Liberal Democrat Adrian Fontes quietly and drastically changed his procedures on political party petition filings and denied observer access and public records requests by the Arizona Republican Party.” According to the AZGOP, this occurred when Secretary Fontes allegedly failed “to notify the political parties with ballot access that an appointment had been made by the ‘Patriot Party’ to file signatures on their Petition for Political Party recognition.”
In their release, the AZGOP asserted that Fontes’ actions with the ‘Patriot Party’ filing was “a big departure from what (he) did when ‘No Labels’ filed,” adding that the Secretary’s motivation in running his office is “to help the Democrat Party and hamper (Arizona Republicans).”
The AZGOP outlined the process by which Secretary Fontes “conducted the No Labels filing,” which included the following steps:
- The Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian parties of Arizona were informed about the filing appointment ahead of time.
- All three recognized political parties were permitted to have observers present for the entire intake and SOS scanning of petitions with full observer coverage for chain of custody transition.
- The scans of the petitions, as filed, prior to SOS processing, were made available the morning after filing through a secure fileshare provided by SOS.
- The fileshare to which counties upload their processed samples was made available to all recognized political parties so that they could follow the filing process throughout.
As the release concluded, the AZGOP demanded that Secretary Fontes “restore the long history of impartiality that existed in the SOS’s office under Secretary Reagan, Secretary Bennett, Secretary Brewer and others.” The party asked for the Secretary of State’s Office to “fulfill (their) public records requests in a timely manner and maintain a fair and unbiased process for all filings made in (the) office.”
The AZGOP threatened Fontes with litigation if he were to “move to validate (the ‘Patriot Party’) as (an actual party) regardless in a partisan effort to hamper the Republican Party. That threat appears to be neutralized thanks to the State Republican Party’s hard work to go through the signatures itself.
With the saga of the petition signatures moving to the rearview window, the AZGOP is focusing on an extremely important election season in 2024, boasting of a “grassroots army of over 5,500 precinct committeemen in Arizona, combined with an additional 20,000 party volunteers.” The AZGOP noted that Arizona Republicans are “united in our mission to register more voters, champion family values, strengthen the economy, and advocate for better educational outcomes and parental choice.”
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.