Arizona Senate chief who led election audit retiring in 2023

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PHOENIX (AP) — The Republican who has served as president of the Arizona Senate for the past three years and oversaw an unprecedented review of 2020 election results in the state's most populous county announced Monday she will not seek reelection in 2022.

Sen. Karen Fann said in a statement that after nearly 30 years serving in local government and at the Legislature, she will retire. The move comes as the Republican-controlled Legislature prepares for a 2022 session where the results of the election “audit" will be a key issue. The review found President Joe Biden did win Arizona, but it raised unsubstantiated questions about aspects of the election.

“I did my job. I stepped up, served my country, served my people,” Fann told The Associated Press. “It's time for somebody else to step up now.”

Fann said the election review and the intense national scrutiny it brought did not factor into her decision to retire.

Fann spent decades building a successful company that focused on installing guardrails on state and local highways, and sold it earlier this year. She told the AP last month that she was still considering whether to seek reelection and another term as Senate President.

“You have to remember, I started my business with $500,” Fann said in an Oct. 14 interview “I have for 37 years built that business up, but it’s still a small business. I only had 40 employees so it wasn’t like anything big, so basically for small-business owners, that’s our retirement.”

She was long considered a workhorse Republican in the Legislature who took on difficult issues like how to regulate the emerging ride-hailing industry. But that changed late last year when then-President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that he lost Arizona and other battleground states because of voter fraud.

Fann went all in, demanding early this year that Maricopa County turn over 2.1 million ballots, its vote-counting machines and election department servers and computers. She fought court battles to win access, then handed them over to a company led by a Trump backer with no election experience to recount and review the results and how the election was run.

She insisted she was only trying to show voters who doubted the outcome whether the election was securely run, but critics said the exercise undermined trust in elections.

Fann said she doesn't have specific retirement plans, but her husband is itching to travel. And she said she'd like to be involved in any effort to bring civility back to politics.

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