The Arizona Supreme Court sanctioned the lawyers representing failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake for making false statements in her lawsuit aimed at overturning her loss in last year’s election.
Even though Lake, a Trump-endorsed election denier, continues to claim she actually won, she lost the 2022 Arizona governor’s race to Democrat Katie Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes.
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The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Lake’s attorneys must pay $2,000 in sanctions for writing in her appeal that it was an “undisputed fact” that more than 35,000 ballots were illegally inserted into batches of legal ballots in Maricopa County when the November 2022 ballots were being sorted shortly after Election Day.
The court also called out Lake and her legal team, made up of Scottsdale divorce lawyer Bryan Blehm and Washington, D.C., employment attorney Kurt Olsen, for repeating that false assertion in another filing.
“Sometimes campaigns and their attendant hyperbole spill over into legal challenges,” the court wrote in its order. “But once a contest enters the judicial arena, rules of attorney ethics apply.”
The court wrote that Lake provided no evidence that more than 35,000 ballots were illegally inserted into the count, and therefore sanctions were warranted since Lake’s attorneys “made false factual statements to the Court.”
The court denied a request from defendants in the case, Hobbs and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, who asked for Lake to cover all of their attorney fees as a form of sanctions.
A trial court in December and an appellate court in February both shot down all of Lake’s claims in her election challenge, ruling they were either improper to bring before the court in such a case or that they were not backed by the facts. The Arizona Supreme Court in March dismissed all of Lake’s claims except for one, regarding signature verification processes, which it sent back to the trial court for review, saying that the lower court had improperly dismissed it.
In Thursday’s order, the Supreme Court ordered the trial court to review the signature verification claim expeditiously.
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