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- Christina Bobb, a correspondent for the far-right news network OAN, has been both covering the Arizona election audit and fundraising for the effort.
- Bobb was aiding AZ Senate Republicans with the effort as early as December, according to new documents.
- The controversial recount is winding down, with reports that auditors are on track to end ballot-counting this week.
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A correspondent for the far-right One America News Network, who is covering the ongoing Maricopa County election audit, has also been aiding the GOP-backed recount effort since at least December and using her visibility on the pro-Trump channel to fundraise for the controversial audit.
Audit-related documents requested and published by The Center for Public Integrity and watchdog We Are Oversight reveal that Christina Bobb, host of "Weekly Briefing" on OAN was supplying Arizona Senate President Karen Fann with witness declarations, statements, and expert testimony in early December to help bolster the Republican-led effort to undermine election results in Maricopa County, where President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump by 45,000 votes.
Fann has been spearheading the ballot-counting, which has been decried by elections experts. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has alleged security violations, software malfunctions, and personnel issues and the US Justice Department has warned the recount may even violate federal law.
In emails between Bobb and Fann from December, Bobb appears to be acting as a liaison between Fann and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, providing Fann declarations from election observers on behalf of the then-president's attorney.
An email from Christina Bobb to Karen Fann.
The Center for Public Integrity.
In a December 4 email, Fann also asked Bobb to pass along lists containing names of "deceased or illegal aliens" who allegedly voted that Bobb's team reportedly said they would send. An additional document shared by the Center for Public Integrity's Carrie Levine includes a report from Donald J. Trump for President to be presented by Giuliani, which appears to be referenced in the email.
Experts have found no evidence of any "deceased" voters, except for one Pennsylvania man accused of pretending to be his dead mother to cast a vote for Trump; baseless claims of non-citizens voting have been widely debunked.
Emails sent between Karen Fann and Christina Bobb.
The Center for Public Integrity.
Earlier this year, the state's GOP-controlled Senate chose Cyber Ninjas, a private firm, to carry out another count of the 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County. Cyber Ninjas has no previous election experience and is spearheaded by a Trump supporter who promoted false conspiracy claims last fall. The recount decision was made in spite of the county's Republican-controlled board of supervisors objecting to it since the election had already been audited more than once by credible firms.
In addition to playing a long-time behind-the-scenes supportive role, Bobb has also been covering the audit since it began in April. BuzzFeed News reported earlier this year that Bobb and OAN are getting special access to the effort that other local outlets have been denied. The Trump-approved network was also given primary access to livestream the audit process.
-Christina Bobb (@christina_bobb) June 4, 2021
In an impromptu CNN interview last week, Fann cited OAN's live coverage of the audit as proof that the entire process has been transparent.
When CNN reporter Kyung Lah pushed back, Fann feigned insult.
"Are you saying OAN is not a credible news source?" Fann asked. "Okay, I'll remember that. CNN is saying that OAN is not a credible one."
But Fann was corresponding with OAN's Bobb about the recount effort as early as December and emails released last week by American Oversight show the lawmaker was also aware that Bobb was doing her own fundraising to support the audit through a group called Voices and Votes.
Fann did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.
On April 9, Bobb tweeted about her organization and asked her followers to donate to support the Arizona audit. Later that day, she said the group reached its $150,000 fundraising goal, but the correspondent has continued to solicit financial support on social media and on-air at OAN.
In May, Bobb told BuzzFeed that her employer is not "in any way" affiliated with Voices and Votes or her fundraising "other than allowing me to mention my efforts on air." She also told the outlet that OAN has not received any perks in return for Voices and Votes' support.
Bobb did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Though OAN's partisanship has been well-documented, Bobb's ongoing promotion of baseless claims about the 2020 election results, in tandem with her overt support of the partisan Arizona audit as she covers the effort for a news network, is new ground when it comes to journalistic ethics.
OAN did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
And as the Maricopa spectacle begins to wind down - AZCentral reported that auditors are on track to finish counting ballots this week - the long-term repercussions of the Arizona audit are only beginning to come into view.
On Tuesday, state senators from Georgia and a senator from Alaska visited the audit site on the tail of three Pennsylvania legislators who toured last week. An audit official told KTAR News lawmakers from Virginia and Wisconsin may also fly in later this week.
The slew of observers comes as GOP state reps across the country field growing calls for similar audit efforts of their own, more than six months after Biden unequivocally beat Trump.