Hobbs accuses Brnovich of “attempted coup d’etate” in lawsuit filings

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, left, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich

By HOWARD FISCHER | Capitol Media Services 

A bid by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to dictate what is in the state’s Election Procedures Manual is nothing short of “an attempted coup d’etat,” according to a lawyer for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

In new court filings, Roopali Desai said Hobbs complied with state law by drafting a new version of the manual and submitting it to Brnovich for his approval. But rather than have a discussion of the differences, she said that the attorney general simply demanded she accede to the changes he wants.

And when that didn’t happen, he — in tandem with the Yavapai County Republican Committee — filed suit.

“Nothing in the statute gives the AG the final say on which specific provisions should or shouldn’t go in the final EPM,” Desai told Yavapai County Superior Court Judge John Napper.

And then there’s the fact that Brnovich, who had a Dec. 31 deadline to approve the changes, waited until April 21 to sue, even as county officials are busy preparing for this year’s election.

“After refusing to engage in the drafting process five months ago, the AG cannot now come to court and demand a new EPM with his preferred election procedures,” Desai said, calling his lawsuit”far too late, highly prejudicial, and procedurally improper.”

She said Arizona law empowers the secretary of state to draft the manual every other year, submitting it to both the attorney general and the governor for their approval. What Brnovich wants, Desai said, is unilateral power to decide what is in the manual.

“Plaintiffs’ lawsuit should be seen for what it is — an attempted coup d’etat,” she wrote. “Plaintiffs cannot illegally seize power that must be shared among three officers of the state’s executive department.”

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