Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward and her husband, Michael, must turn over their phone records to the House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
The ruling from Judge Diane Humetewa came after the Wards filed a lawsuit challenging a subpoena from the House Select Committee for phone records from T-Mobile between Nov. 1, 2020, through Jan. 31, 2021, for four phone numbers associated with the Wards and Michael Ward’s business.
In their lawsuit, filed in February, the Wards argued that the subpoena was “overbroad,” because it is “unrelated to the enabling resolution of the issuing Committee” and doesn’t make a clear connection between the records and potential legislation.
They also argued that the subpoena violated the First Amendment rights of both themselves and the state GOP, and they claimed that the subpoena was illegal because the committee was in violation of House rules.
The Wards told the court that turning over the phone records would violate Arizona’s law protecting patient-physician privilege and HIPAA, the federal law governing privacy of medical information because they are doctors.
But Judge Humetewa rejected all of those arguments, writing in an 18-page ruling that the committee’s work has a valid purpose and is not illegal — thus barring a lawsuit against the federal government.
“That three-month period is plainly relevant to its investigation into the causes of the January 6th attack,” she wrote. “The Court therefore has little doubt concluding these records may aid the Select Committee’s valid legislative purpose.”
The judge also rejected the claim that the records would ensnare anyone who called or texted Kelli Ward would “become implicated in the largest criminal investigation in U.S. history” and be subjected to harassment or political persecution by Democrats, in violation of their First Amendment rights.
Humetewa said the argument was “highly speculative” and the Wards “provided no evidence to support their contention that producing the phone numbers associated with this account will chill the associational rights of Plaintiffs or the Arizona GOP.” They also provided no more than “conclusory allegations” that complying with the subpoena would lead to harassment of themselves or anyone else.
The judge also said the subpoena was issued to T-Mobile, not the Wards, and the mobile phone company is not bound by HIPAA.
Read the ruling below: