“Let this be completed and then we can talk about what the findings are,” Ducey told reporters on Thursday at an elementary school in Tempe. Asked whether he has any concerns about the audit, Ducey said he’s focused on his day job. As to how the audit may be affecting Arizona’s image on a national level, the governor said, “This is an issue in every state, and it’s been an issue in the last several elections.” The governor has repeatedly declined to comment on the audit, from the protracted legal battle between the Senate and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which ultimately led to a judge ordering the county to submit to Senate President Karen Fann’s subpoenas for ballots and other election materials, to the revelations of the past few weeks. The audit and hand recount ordered by Fann got off to a rocky start and new issues have continually arisen since it began in late April. Fann hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity company, to oversee the audit, despite the company’s lack of experience with elections and the fact that its owner, Doug Logan, repeatedly promoted false claims of election fraud . Election experts have raised numerous concerns about what they say are a lack of proper policies and procedures about handling of ballots, among other issues. Cyber Ninjas refused to even disclose its policies and procedures to the public until a judge ordered their release in a lawsuit brought by the Arizona Democratic Party. The audit is not only counting nearly 2.1 million ballots and examining the tabulation machines that Maricopa County election officials used to count them. One audit official said workers are examining the fibers in the ballots to determine if the paper contained bamboo, deemed a potential indicator of counterfeit ballots from Asia. An inventor and treasurer hunter created technology being used by the audit that he claims can detect counterfeit ballots by inspecting folds in the paper. And workers initially examined ballots with ultraviolet lights for watermarks, despite Maricopa County’s insistence that it doesn’t use watermarks on its ballots. Some GOP lawmakers have stated their intent to sponsor legislation to address the audit’s findings. On Wednesday, the Department of Justice informed Fann that the audit may be violating federal laws requiring the preservation of ballots for nearly two years after an election, and that a plan to knock on people’s doors to inquire about their voter registration and history could violate anti-voter intimidation provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Fann’s contract with Cyber Ninjas is for only $150,000, though she acknowledges she knew when she signed it that the audit would cost far more. Outside groups have raised funds , largely from unknown sources, to pay for the audit. Trump and some of his supporters have loudly proclaimed that the audit will show that the election in Arizona, which President Joe Biden won by 10,457 votes, was plagued by massive fraud, and that the revelation will uncover similar problems in other states and ultimately show that Trump actually won the election. Ducey has largely avoided addressing the election fraud claims, but has defended the 2020 election in Arizona as secure and fair. Trump publicly castigated him for certifying the election, despite a total lack of evidence of fraud, malfeasance or other problems.
Governor sidesteps questions on audit amid mounting issues
Gov. Doug Ducey declined to comment on the state Senate’s ongoing audit of the 2020 election, an event that has attracted national attention over the past several weeks as auditors chase bizarre conspiracy theories, proponents of baseless claims that the election was rigged against Donald Trump count ballots, and the U.S. Department of Justice seeks assurances that federal laws aren’t being broken.
“Let this be completed and then we can talk about what the findings are,” Ducey told reporters on Thursday at an elementary school in Tempe.
Asked whether he has any concerns about the audit, Ducey said he’s focused on his day job.https://www.azmirror.com/blog/governor-sidesteps-questions-on-audit-amid-mounting-issues/
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Merrill sought to defuse the tension on Friday, saying in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch that the media outlet "embraces a culture in which employees are able to express themselves openly." "I value each member of our team not only on a professional level but on a personal one as well," Merrilll said. "I could not be more proud of their work and achievements under the incredibly difficult circumstances of the past year. I have assured our team that there will be no changes to benefits or employee status. I am sorry if the op-ed made it appear like anything else." The dispute highlights the emerging complexities for companies across the U.S. as they weigh whether to summon employees back to the office as the pandemic ebbs. Many employers are considering so-called "hybrid" arrangements in which at least some staffers work from home, with other personnel reporting in to the office in an effort to preserve an organization's culture. Yet management and HR experts warn that such divisions can create a sense of unfairness among workers, cause internal friction, and even create a divide between in-person and remote workers. Even for corporate leaders like Merrill who place a premium on employees working shoulder-to-shoulder, the challenge is to adapt to a post-pandemic environment that might make traditional work models obsolete. Merrill's op-ed was originally titled, "As a CEO, I want my employees to understand the risks of not returning to work in the office," and later changed to, "As a CEO, I worry about the erosion of office culture with more remote work." Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Washington Post, said in a statement he asked his team to change the headline "to something that I thought better captured the piece." But the change was not in reaction to the work stoppage by Washingtonian staffers, and no other revisions to the op-ed were made, he said. An employee for the Washingtonian — who spoke to CBS MoneyWatch on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly — said she interpreted Merrill's piece as a direct threat to staffers like herself. "I don't know how you would read that as anything other than a direct message to your employees," the worker said. She and her colleagues felt "blindsided and confused," she added, since the company had been engaging in what she called productive conversations about what an eventual return to the office might look like. Regarding the strike, "We decided to take a stand and say the work that we do needs to be valued more than was demonstrated in that piece," the employee added. Remote workers as freelancers? Not so fast Although employers have the legal right to set the terms and conditions of employment and can require employees to report to a physical office, independent contractor status does not hinge on whether someone works in the office or remotely, said Helen Rella, an employment attorney at law firm Wilk Auslander. Instead, a worker's status as an employee versus a contractor relates to who controls the work. "It's a legal classification under federal law that examines who controls the terms and conditions of the services rendered," Rella said. "Independent contractors are typically people who come in, do a discrete task, and they exercise independent judgment," Rella added. "And when that task is complete they move on." © 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cathy-merrill-washingtonian-journalist-strike/