Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office robbed after she called out voter intimidation

Hobbs' campaign “released photographs of a person it said was identified as the suspect"

Published October 27, 2022 11:05AM (EDT)

Arizona Secretary of State and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs speaks at a press conference on October 7, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Arizona Secretary of State and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs speaks at a press conference on October 7, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

In the Phoenix area, some disturbing events have occurred during the 2022 midterms — the most recent of which is a break-in at the campaign headquarters of Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor.

Hobbs' office has asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate a recent incident in which voters were photographed, filmed and followed by a car out of a parking lot at a ballot drop box location. And on Friday, October 21, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office responded to reports of two armed men, dressed in tactical gear, standing watch at a ballot drop box in Mesa.

On October 22, the Maricopa County Elections Department tweeted, "Uninformed vigilantes outside Maricopa County's drop boxes are not increasing election integrity. Instead, they are leading to voter intimidation complaints. Although monitoring and transparency in our elections is critical, voter intimidation is unlawful…. For those who want to be involved in election integrity, become a poll worker or an official observer with your political party. Don't dress in body armor to intimidate voters as they are legally returning their ballots."

Then, on Tuesday, October 25, Hobbs' campaign headquarters in Phoenix became the target of a break-in, according to Phoenix police and Hobbs' campaign. Hobbs is running for governor against GOP nominee Kari Lake, a far-right conspiracy theorist who continues to make the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump through widespread voter fraud. Polls released in October have been showing a very close race, with Hobbs slightly ahead in some polls and Lake slightly ahead in others.

According to Arizona Republic reporters Stacey Barchenger and Taylor Seely, Hobbs' campaign "released photographs of a person it said was identified as the suspect by the Phoenix Police Department after police reviewed the surveillance footage."

"The images show a younger man wearing shorts, a short-sleeved t-shirt and a backpack," Barchenger and Seely report. "The Phoenix Police Department said it 'has not released any images or video relating to this investigation and cannot confirm any suspects or investigative leads.'"

Nicole DeMont, Hobbs' campaign manager, made it clear that the campaign is taking the break-in quite seriously in light of all the death threats Hobbs has received. Following the 2020 election, Hobbs pushed back against the Big Lie aggressively and maintained that President Joe Biden — contrary to the false claims of Lake and other far-right election deniers — enjoyed a decisive, totally legitimate victory. Lake, in contrast, has been campaigning on the Big Lie and has even said that Hobbs should be jailed for helping Biden steal Arizona's electoral votes.

DeMont told the Arizona Republic, "We continue to cooperate with law enforcement as they investigate, and we are thankful to the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department for their work to keep us safe. Secretary Hobbs and her staff have faced hundreds of death threats and threats of violence over the course of this campaign. Throughout this race, we have been clear that the safety of our staff and of the secretary is our No. 1 priority."

Never Trump conservative Tim Miller, a former Republican organizer and a scathing critic of Trump, Lake and the MAGA movement, expressed his fears about Arizona's gubernatorial election in an article published by The Bulwark on October 24. Miller views Lake as a dangerously authoritarian extremist but believes that Hobbs is running a weak campaign in an election that has major implications not only for Arizona, but for the United States on the whole.

Miller warned, "The stakes in Arizona's governor race could not be higher. The Republican nominee, Kari Lake, is the most zealous election denier this side of the South Florida Sigmaringen. She has indicated she would do everything in her power to tip the scales for Donald Trump in this swing state in 2024. She is a talented political performer, perhaps the most talented in the entire party. Her rise has been foreseeable for at least a year."

By Alex Henderson

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Alternet Elections Kari Lake Katie Hobbs Partner Politics