Ken Bennett, the former Republican secretary of state in Arizona, said Wednesday that he is planning to step down from his role as the state Senate’s liaison to the ongoing audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election.

Bennett has been one of the most public facing officials of the audit since it began in April. Republicans in the Arizona Senate ordered the audit to be conducted despite previous post-election audits that confirmed Maricopa County’s election results.

Bennett was locked out of the audit last Friday after he shared information about an ongoing third count of the total number of ballots cast in the county with an outside group of consultants. He said he cannot continue to be part of a process that lacks transparency.

“I cannot be locked out of a process that is at its most critical phase,” Bennett told conservative talk show host James Harris on Wednesday morning. “I won’t pretend to be part of the process or pretend to be the liaison when I’m not.”

The controversial process began back in April after contractors hired by the Republican-led state Senate took control of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots.The Senate hired several firms to conduct the audit. It is being led by Cyber Ninjas, whose founder has promoted election conspiracy theories. The process has been heavily criticized by election experts, election officials and Republican leaders in Maricopa County

President Biden won Arizona by 10,457 votes in November and the audit’s results cannot overturn his victory.

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said this week that she would like Bennett to be part of the final report. Bennett did not completely rule out participating in that process. 

“I will be a part of putting the final report together if I can be reinstated to the information that’s going to be used to build that report over the next few days and weeks,” Bennett said. “I cannot put a rubber stamp on a product that I’m being locked out of its development.”

Bennett said he believes that Randy Pullen, an audit spokesman, is acting in the liaison role now. Pullen and other members from the audit did not respond to a request for comment. 

Despite his plans to step aside, Bennett said that he still supports the audit and a new subpoena issued by Fann earlier this week. 

Bennett’s announcement came two days after he criticized auditors’ transparency over the reconciliation of duplicate ballots and whether the third count of ballots is truly independent. Earlier this week, Bennett said that he expects a final report to be sent to the Arizona Senate some time in August.