Lake: Don’t sanction me because I believe my fact-free claims

By: - April 7, 2023 3:19 pm

Kari Lake on Dec. 20, 2022, at a Turning Point USA event. Photo by Gage Skidmore (modified) | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Kari Lake and her lawyers are asking the Arizona Supreme Court not to sanction them for their election challenge case because Lake “honestly believes that electoral misconduct and illegal votes determined the outcome of the 2022 gubernatorial election.”

The Supreme Court invited the defendants in Lake’s case, Gov. Katie Hobbs and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, to request sanctions against Lake and her legal team for bringing frivolous claims to the courts that aren’t supported by the facts. 

Lake is a Trump-endorsed Republican and 2020 election denier who lost the November race for Arizona governor to Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes. Since the election, Lake has continued to assert, without evidence, that she is the true governor and that her loss was owed to intentional malfeasance from election officials who didn’t follow proper procedures. 

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She has claimed that in Maricopa County, ballots that had mismatching signatures were counted when they should have been thrown out, more than 35,000 illegal ballots were added in with legal ones and ballot printer and tabulator errors suppressed the Republican vote on Election Day. 

A trial court in December and an appellate court in February both shot down all of Lake’s claims as either improper to bring before the court in an election challenge or found that they were not backed by the facts. The state Supreme Court in March dismissed all of Lake’s claims except for one, regarding signature verification processes, and sent that claim back to the trial court for review, saying that the lower court had improperly dismissed it. 

All of the courts denied her request to either oust Hobbs and make Lake governor or to call for a new election, with the appellate court writing in its decision that Lake’s claims of voter disenfranchisement were “quite simply, sheer speculation.”

Not only did Lake ask the Supreme Court not to sanction her in the Wednesday filing, but her lawyers, Scottsdale divorce attorney Bryan Blehm and D.C. corporate employment lawyer Kurt Olsen, asked that the court reconsider one of Lake’s claims that it already dismissed, regarding chain-of-custody rules for ballots. 

Motions for reconsideration are generally not allowed at this stage in the court proceedings. 

Lake included more alleged evidence in her Wednesday filing, something also generally not allowed in the appeals process, than she did in her original petition to the Supreme Court. 

She says that the evidence proves illegal ballots were injected in with legal ones in Maricopa County, even though every ballot envelope has a unique barcode associated with a legally registered voter. 

But the Supreme Court, when it ruled to allow the defendants to ask for sanctions, pointed out that the “record does not reflect that 35,563 unaccounted ballots were added to the total count.”

Lake and her lawyers cite several documents in the court filing that they claim prove the injection of illegal ballots took place, but the lower courts didn’t buy those arguments, saying that the discrepancy between an initial rough estimate of the number of early ballots cast on Election Day and the final complete count did not constitute evidence that illegal ballots were inserted into the counting process. 

The defendants in the case have until April 12 to respond to Lake’s request not to be sanctioned. 

The Supreme Court told Hobbs and Fontes that they could only ask for sanctions based on factual claims in the case, not based on the legal arguments made by Lake’s lawyers. 

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson, who presided over the initial election challenge trial in December, had scheduled briefings in the case after learning that the Supreme Court had ordered him to reconsider Lake’s signature verification claim. 

He has since canceled those briefings until the Supreme Court rules on possible sanctions. 

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Caitlin Sievers
Caitlin Sievers

Caitlin joined the Arizona Mirror in 2022 with almost 10 years of experience as a reporter and editor, holding local government leaders accountable from newsrooms across the West and Midwest. She's won statewide awards in Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin for reporting, photography and commentary.

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