After failed Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake lost in a lawsuit she brought challenging her 2022 defeat, Maricopa County officials — from Arizona’s largest county by population, which is a frequent target of lies about U.S. elections — are seeking the imposition of sanctions on Lake and her attorneys.
Lake included county leadership as defendants in her case, which went to trial on remaining claims including one that to prove she would have needed to show an intentional conspiracy to alter the outcome of the 2022 elections that actually did so. That dispute centered on issues with printers used for ballots produced at county polling places on Election Day, on some of which the contents weren’t printed darkly enough for the ballot scanners, an official explained at trial. The judge promptly concluded Lake failed to prove her claims. The push from the county for sanctions would, if accepted, cover legal fees incurred by the county team in this case. The filing rests in part on observations about the lack of a reasonably established foundation for a legitimate dispute. Nowhere in the testimony Lake’s team used or evidence they produced was there any evidence proving their lingering election claims.
The county argued that attorneys familiarizing themselves with the basic facts of the case is an ethical obligation — and if Lake’s team did so, the additional question emerges of why they continued with the case. Asked “about any personal knowledge of both intentional misconduct and intentional misconduct directed to impact the 2022 General Election,” not a single witness provided personal knowledge of that happening, an argument cited by the county notes.
“Indeed, the entire purpose of this litigation was to plant baseless seeds of doubt in the electorate’s mind about the integrity and security of the 2022 General Election in Maricopa County. And while it is one thing to do so on TV or social media sites, it is another thing entirely to attempt to use the imprimatur of the courts to try to achieve that goal. Plaintiff’s obvious attempt to do so here merits sanctions,” the county filing dated Monday argued. The county team noted that the $25,050 they sought wasn’t the entirety of the legal fees incurred during these proceedings. Rather, that total just covers the two days of trial, and participating lawyers opted to use those available figures to comply with the tight deadline for making a sanctions filing rather than tasking their staff over the holiday to assemble further numbers.
If provided an opportunity, the county noted they would file a more expansive push for financial penalties on Lake and her lawyers seeking all of what they incurred. “Courts are established by Arizona’s Constitution and statutes to resolve actual disputes between parties,” the county’s request added. “They do not exist so that candidates for political office can attempt to make political statements and fundraise. And they should not be used to harass political opponents and sow completely unfounded doubts about the integrity of elections. All of those things happened in this matter.” Lake’s attorneys in this case include Bryan Blehm and Kurt Olsen.
Other Republicans who lost in Arizona elections this year have also filed legal challenges to their defeats — and also lost. That list includes Abe Hamadeh, who ran for state attorney general and whose race already went to a legally required recount because of the close margin, and Mark Finchem, who ran for Secretary of State.
NEW—Maricopa Co seeks sanctions against Kari Lake and her attorneys, Brian Blehm and Kurt Olsen, writing: “Plaintiff had decided well before the election that if the results did not favor her, she would deny that they were legitimate.” https://t.co/s5bqDDAIl3 @isaacstannecker pic.twitter.com/BjsDEOJFW9
— YvonneWingettSanchez 🏜 (@yvonnewingett) December 26, 2022
Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons