Arizona audit officials appear to have been well aware of major security problems at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where they were conducting a partisan recount of Maricopa County ballots, despite their public denials.
Text messages released this week in response to a lawsuit show an exchange between audit official Randy Pullen and Jeff DeWitt, a Donald Trump campaign official, according to a report from Arizona Family Investigates, a project involving two local TV stations.
"Sh*t is hitting the fan ... need money for added security and for national legal team," Pullen wrote to DeWitt on April 22.
Pullen then sent a screen shot of a TV reporter's tweet announcing an investigation that was scheduled to air that night.
"How secure is the location of Arizona's election audit? Not very," said the tweet, which included video of open doors at the coliseum.
"Why we need more security. There are four entry points on the 2nd floor that need security 24/7," Pullen wrote to DeWitt the next day. "Have a hearing at 11. Need to be able to say we have more security coming."
The text messages show that after DeWitt promised $175,000, Pullen said $200,000 "would be better" to address the ongoing security concerns.
"Federal election law required the site to be secure because it contained election equipment and ballots," Arizona Family Investigates reports.
At the time, Arizona Family Investigates said its crew had gained access to the coliseum through "open bay doors, unlocked side doors and doors left propped open."
However, both a spokesman for the audit and Republican Senate President Karen Fann — who commissioned the recount — denied the reports.
Audit spokesman Ken Bennett said: "I think we've confirmed that when we let some other press come into the building, one of them propped the door open so that somebody else ... could gain access."
Fann, meanwhile, suggested that Arizona Family Investigates had made up its story. "There was actually a media guy that snuck over to a locked door, propped it open to let another media guy come in," Fann said.
The text messages were among thousands of communications released this week in response to a public records lawsuit from American Oversight.
Watch the Arizona Family Investigates report below.
New docs show struggle over security at AZ election audit www.youtube.com