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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Kari Lake’s Lawyers Fined Over False Factual Statements on Election Fraud

Kari Lake’s Lawyers Fined Over False Factual Statements on Election Fraud – The Arizona Supreme Court has imposed a $2,000 sanction on the lawyers representing Kari Lake, the Republican candidate who lost in the gubernatorial race last year to Democrat Katie Hobbs. The lawyers had challenged the election results, but the court ruled against them and found that they had made false statements about the addition of 35,000 improper ballots. The court has given them 10 days to pay the sanction. 

Despite rejecting the request to order Kari Lake to pay for attorney fees incurred by Katie Hobbs and Adrian Fontes, the Arizona Supreme Court did not resolve the matter of signature verification in Lake’s appeal. Chief Justice Robert Brutinel stated that this issue remains unresolved. Hobbs and Fontes, both Democrats, argued that Lake and her attorneys should be sanctioned for making unfounded claims that over 35,000 ballots were added to the election at a facility where a contractor scanned mail-in ballots before being processed and counted by county election workers. 

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In late March, when the Arizona Supreme Court first reviewed Kari Lake’s challenge, the evidence did not support her claim that over 35,000 ballots were added to the vote count in Maricopa county, which is home to more than 60% of the state’s voters. Lawyers representing Katie Hobbs and Adrian Fontes accused Lake and her legal team of misrepresenting evidence and damaging the election process by continuing to make baseless allegations of election fraud. 

Fontes’ lawyers requested the court to order Lake’s lawyers to forfeit any earnings they received from pursuing the appeal, arguing that they should not profit from their misconduct. Kari Lake’s legal team argued that sanctions were unwarranted as it was evident that Lake genuinely believed that electoral misconduct had influenced the outcome of the race. 

Kari Lake, who lost the gubernatorial race to Katie Hobbs by a margin of just over 17,000 votes, was one of the most vocal 2022 Republican candidates to espouse Donald Trump’s election falsehoods, which she made the focal point of her campaign. While most other candidates who denied the election results conceded after losing their races in November, Lake did not. In her challenge, Lake’s focus was on issues with ballot printers at some polling locations in Maricopa county. 

The malfunctioning printers produced ballots that were too faint to be read by the on-site tabulators at polling places, causing delays and confusion in some areas. Lake alleged that the printer problems resulted from intentional misconduct. However, county officials have asserted that everyone had an opportunity to vote, and all ballots were counted because those affected by the printers were taken to more sophisticated counters at election headquarters. On 22 March, the Arizona Supreme Court dismissed almost all of Lake’s appeal, stating that there was no evidence that 35,000 ballots were added to the vote count. 

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Nonetheless, the court permitted Lake’s claim to continue, which challenged the application of signature verification procedures on early ballots in Maricopa county. The claim was sent back to a lower court to be evaluated, and the latest order will allow the trial court to resume litigation of the issue. In mid-February, the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected Lake’s assertions, concluding that she had presented no evidence that voters whose ballots were unreadable by tabulators at polling places were not able to cast their votes.

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