Break-in at Arizona Democrat Katie Hobbs’ office as state plagued by voter intimidation

‘Let’s be clear: for nearly two years Kari Lake and her allies have been spreading dangerous misinformation and inciting threats against anyone they see fit,’ Democratic candidate says

Johanna Chisholm
Thursday 27 October 2022 15:12 BST
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Footage captures alleged voter intimidation by group watching ballot box in Maricopa County

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The Democratic headquarters for Arizona gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs was reportedly broken into this week amid widespread reports of voter intimidation picking up across the state ahead of the midterms.

Phoenix police and the Hobbs campaign confirmed that on Tuesday afternoon, officers responded to a call at about 2pm regarding a commercial burglary at the secretary of state’s downtown office, AZCentral reported.

“No suspects have been identified. This is still an active investigation with detectives checking all security cameras in attempts to identify and locate the subject involved,” the police statement added.

In a statement regarding the break-in, Ms Hobbs confirmed the police report and thanked the Phoenix officers for their quick efforts but acknowledged that this isn’t the first, nor will it likely be the last, incident of its kind, which she characterised as a form of intimidation against her campaign.

“Secretary Hobbs and her staff have faced hundreds of death threats and threats of violence over the course of this campaign,” the statement, shared on her Twitter account, read before tying the recent break-in back to her Trump-endorsed and election-denying opponent, Kari Lake.

“Let’s be clear: for nearly two years Kari Lake and her allies have been spreading dangerous misinformation and inciting threats against anyone they see fit. The threats against Arizonans attempting to exercise their constitutional rights and their attacks on elected officials are the direct result of a concerted campaign of lies and intimidation.”

The Democratic Party of Arizona took those accusations one step further, and directly called out the Republican gubernatorial candidate for “inciting violence” and being one of the most vocal supporters of denying the results of the 2020 election – a move that likely earned her the endorsement of the former president.

“Make no mistake — this is a direct result of Kari Lake and fringe Republicans spreading lies and hate and inciting violence — and it is despicable,” the Arizona Democratic Party said in a statement on Twitter.

Ms Lake’s campaign pushed back against the attack that the Democrats had levelled against her, saying, “We definitely don’t know anything about it, so it’s a lot of allegations they’re just throwing around,” said Ross Trumble, a spokesman for the campaign, in a statement to NBC.

In a more blunted rebuff of the accusation from the Hobbs campaign, Ms Lake went on to accuse the Democrat of staging the break-in herself.

“Kari Lake just made quite the accusation and told me: ‘This sounds like a Jussie Smollett part two,’ referencing the actor who was convicted of filing a false police report,” tweeted CNN reporter Kate Sullivan.

On Wednesday night, Ms Hobbs shifted from attacking her opponent to refocusing the narrative onto her platform and the promises she’s made to “get the job done” for Arizonans.

“As Secretary of State, I face intimidation, violence, and even death threats. But democracy is on the line and nothing will deter me from protecting our freedoms,” she tweeted late Wednesday night. “As governor, I will always be a leader who gets the job done for Arizonans — because our future depends on it.”

The news of the break-in arrives as reports have emerged in recent weeks of widespread voter intimidation in the state. As secretary of state, Ms Hobbs’ chief responsibility is overseeing the conduct of elections and enforcing rules around the procedures that uphold the integrity of casting ballots.

This, her office said Monday, has become a tantamount concern with the upcoming midterms as she has referred more cases on to the state attorney general’s office and the US Justice Department for further probing.

It recently emerged that an anonymous group in Arizona, that is calling itself “Ben Sent Us”, has been threatening Democratic state officials through letters and flyers that bear the warning “We are watching you”.

“Retirees with nothing else to do” will file “hundreds” of lawsuits alleging voter fraud, the letter reads.

“They will be locating your homes, your social media profiles and pictures and posting them online.” Judges who are allegedly complicit in what the group perceives as election fraud “will be considered a traitor and dealt with accordingly, as will you,” the letter reads.

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