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Hamadeh, other plaintiffs, deserve fines for bringing evidence-free election challenge, AG’s lawyer says

By: - January 3, 2023 7:56 pm

Abe Hamadeh, right, speaks at a candidate forum hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Sept. 15, 2022, as Kris Mayes watches. Photo by Gage Skidmore (modified) | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Everyone involved in Abraham Hamadeh’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of a race he lost should face sanctions and more than $10,000 in fines, the lawyer for Attorney General Kris Mayes told a judge. 

The trial, wrote attorney Dan Barr, who represented Mayes and her campaign in the court proceedings, was a waste of time and resources that warrants a punishment. Not doing so, he added, threatens to erode election integrity in the state. 

“This case should never have been brought,” Barr wrote. “For the sake of democracy and our elections, those who abuse the judicial system by bringing claims lacking evidentiary support or legal justification must be held accountable for their actions.” 

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Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for attorney general, sought last month to nullify the race he lost by 280 votes, alleging that election worker misconduct, illegal votes and mishandled ballots resulted in a bungled election. In the end, the lawsuit was thrown out for failing to support any of its claims or present any proof of issues that could put the election’s outcome in doubt. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Hamadeh, the Republican National Committee and two Mohave County residents, Jeanne Kentch and Ted Boyd, in conservative Mohave County Superior Court. Mayes is asking that each of them be sanctioned by the court, along with their five lawyers — one of whom is not legally allowed to practice in Arizona — and pay her attorneys fees along with a $10,000 penalty. 

Under state law, that amount in fines is assessed if a party brings a lawsuit without sufficient justification to defend it. Barr said attorney Timothy La Sota, who represented Hamadeh, not only violated that standard, but did so knowingly and at the cost of public resources. 

Only six ballots were brought to the trial to prove the claim that ballots were prevented from being cast for Hamadeh, and La Sota himself conceded that this was insufficient to prove his case. Three other claims made in the lawsuit — that some ballots were wrongfully disqualified, provisional ballots were excluded and others were incorrectly duplicated — were ignored altogether. But La Sota refused to give up those claims, saying instead that he simply didn’t have enough time to gather the evidence to argue for them. 

Barr criticized La Sota’s stubbornness, saying in his motion for sanctions that Hamadeh’s attorney clearly knew he didn’t have any proof and still decided to waste the court’s time by going through with the trial. 

“Plaintiffs and their counsel forced countless public servants — including elections workers, court officials, and more — to work overtime the day before a major holiday, resulting in a significant waste of time and public resources,” Barr wrote. “(They) knew, at a minimum, prior to the trial that they lacked any evidence to support their claims, they had an obligation to dismiss their case.” 

That show of bad faith, Barr said, is also evident in social media statements made by Hamadeh, who has repeatedly criticized what he calls a “botched election” and forwarded baseless allegations that misconduct occurred. 

In the end, Hamadeh and La Sota, along with everyone else involved in the lawsuit, were fully aware their case rested on nothing but air and pursued a trial at significant cost to Mayes and the state, Barr said. 

“Merely losing an election, regardless of how close the margin is, provides no basis to pursue an election contest,” he wrote. “It does, however, undermine voter confidence in Arizona’s electoral process and impugn hardworking election workers and officials who perform a difficult and often thankless job.” 

Also on Tuesday, Hamadeh announced in a tweet that he was filing a new lawsuit in light of the recount results, which narrowed Mayes’ lead from 511 votes to 280. 

“It’s simple, if the judge allows us to inspect and count the ballots — we win,” he wrote. “Kris Mayes will either resign or be removed from office. Count the votes accurately.”

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Gloria Rebecca Gomez
Gloria Rebecca Gomez

Gloria Gomez joined the Arizona Mirror in August 2022. Prior to that, she wrote for the Mirror as the UA School of Journalism’s Don Bolles Fellow. She has written for the Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Republic and worked at the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She graduated in 2022 with bachelor's degrees in journalism and political science, with a Spanish minor. She’s a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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