PHOENIX — Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett asked former Democratic Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios to be his co-liaison on the controversial review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County.

A batch of documents that the Arizona Senate released under court order to American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, include a text message that Rios sent to Bennett on April 7, apparently in response to a request from Bennett that the two former state senators work together as co-liaison to the Senate.

Rios and Bennett served together in the Arizona Senate for six years in the 1990s and 2000s.

He told Bennett that he appreciated it and that they “work well together,” but Democrats “at every level are extremely opposed to this audit.”

Rios said Democrats suspected that the audit was a witch hunt designed to find something that Republicans could use to “justify more hurdles to early voting & voter suppression,” and that they would attempt to delegitimize any Democrat who agreed to serve in such a position.

“Good luck to you and keep your head low,” Rios said. “Obviously I can’t do it… But I thank you and I appreciate you.”

Rios was first elected to the Senate in 1982 and spent two decades in the legislature, and was the last Democrat to serve as Senate president in Arizona, a post he held in 1991-92. After leaving office, Rios went on to serve on the Pinal County Board of Supervisors. He is the father of Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios.

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Jeremy Duda is associate editor of the Arizona Mirror, a non-profit independent Arizona news organization.

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