PHOENIX — The House committee investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6 riot is entitled to the phone records of the leader of the Republican Party in Arizona.
U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa rejected Kelli Ward’s arguments that the subpoena had no valid legislative purpose. She said it was clear that the House, in creating the panel, had given it the authority to not only examine the events of that day, but also to make recommendations to change the laws, policies and procedures that the committee “may deem necessary”.
And Humetewa said courts generally defer to the decisions of lawmakers as to the scope of their investigations.
The judge was no more impressed with Ward’s arguments that the subpoena will endanger not only his rights, but those of the entire Arizona Republican Party.
He is looking for the phone numbers of those she has called or texted, or who have called or texted her, as well as those of her husband, Michael. He, like his wife, was on a list of bogus voters submitted to Congress falsely saying that Donald Trump had won all 11 voters in the state.
“If the subpoena is not rescinded, AZGOP members will feel that every time they communicate with party leadership, they risk those communications being leaked to law enforcement followed by a sudden on the doorstep (or worse) of federal investigators,” pleaded Alexander Kolodin, his attorney. “A higher risk of associative chilling can hardly be imagined.”
Kolodin also argued that because the House panel is controlled by Democrats, he would use information from the phone records “to harass or persecute political rivals by investigating their relationship with the party chairman.”
And he even claimed that giving Ward’s phone contact list could inspire people to leave the Arizona GOP “and deter others from joining for fear of exposing their beliefs through their associations and the consequences of this exhibition.
But Humetewa called the claims “highly speculative”.
“Plaintiffs have provided no evidence to support their assertion that production of the phone numbers associated with this account will chill the rights of plaintiffs or the Arizona GOP,” the judge wrote. She said that at best the allegations “constitute subjective fear”. of future retaliation,” which federal appeals judges have ruled insufficient to demonstrate any infringement of associational rights.
And, at the very least, Humetewa said she should assume the committee “will exercise its powers responsibly and with respect for the rights of complainants.”
The judge also said she wasn’t buying arguments that records of all the phones Ward and her husband used – both are doctors – would violate the rights of their patients who used those numbers for medical purposes. contact on these lines. She said the House panel was not looking for the confidential contents of patients’ medical records.
And she said it was irrelevant that the subpoena could reveal the names of the patients.
“If disclosing the patient’s name does not disclose any communication regarding the patient’s ailments, disclosing the patient’s name does not violate privilege,” Humetewa said. And she said the fact that medical practice is known to focus exclusively on weight loss changes all that.
“The court finds it implausible that a patient’s phone number would inevitably expose information about a patient’s medical history, condition, or treatment, potentially revealing information that the patient disclosed in confidence,” a- she writes.
Ward has already filed documents asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the decision.
In refusing to overturn the subpoena, Humetewa accepted the arguments of Douglas Letter, the general counsel for the United States House of Representatives.
He told the judge in his own legal filing that the committee only wanted call data, things like the number of calls and text messages sent and received, not the actual content.
“The select committee is not looking for sensitive donor information,” he said.
But the real key, Letter said, is that it’s not a sweeping request. He outlined what the committee wants to cover only from November 1, 2020, just before Election Day, to January 31, 2021.
“This date range was specifically designed to obtain information regarding activities surrounding the 2020 presidential election, including false claims that the election was stolen and actions related to the nomination of an alternative slate of Arizona voters,” he said. And Letter told Humetewa that these were “activities that directly relate to the January 6 attack.”
This is Ward’s role in everything the committee seeks to uncover.
At the center of the legal fight, Letter said, is the committee’s legitimate power and role in investigating the causes of the attack. And he said the committee does not view his actions in Arizona and the riot as unrelated.
“Dr. Kelli Ward was involved in several aspects of these attempts to interfere with the January 6 election count,” he said. .”
Sending the set of unauthorized electoral votes to Congress, Letter said Wake “misrepresented them as representatives of Arizona’s legal votes.”
And that’s not all.
“As Congress was suspended due to mob violence and the attack on the Capitol, Dr. Ward continued to advocate for the nullification of the election results,” Letter said, quoting a January 6 Twitter post. And even after the riot and Congress certifying Biden’s victory, he said, Ward continued to claim that the fake voters list contained “the legitimate and genuine voters for president for 2020.”