Democratic Arizona Governor-elect Katie Hobbs joined Maricopa County in filing sanctions against her former Republican opponent, Kari Lake, in court Monday.
The request for sanctions came after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson on Saturday ruled against Lake’s lawsuit challenging the November gubernatorial election with allegations of fraud and intentional misconduct. The 10-page ruling said the former Republican candidate’s witnesses lacked knowledge of intentional misconduct.
Lake went to court earlier in December with two of her 10 claims, alleging misconduct with ballot printers and chain of custody.
Hobbs’ attorneys joined the Maricopa County Defendants who are seeking $25,050, which includes $18,730 in attorneys’ fees, from Lake over her alleged “groundless” claims that they said were “not made in good faith,” according to Monday’s suit. The document said the sanctions are “more than warranted,” citing Lake’s previous statement that she would “accept the results of the gubernatorial election only if she were the winning candidate.”
“‘Enough Really Is Enough’: Arizona Governor-Elect Katie Hobbs Asks Judge to Sanction Defeated Rival Kari Lake and Her Lawyers” https://t.co/XFM0ZYn4BN
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) December 26, 2022
“There is no question that Plaintiff’s claims here were both ‘groundless’ and ‘not made in good faith,'” the document read. “As noted above, Plaintiff had decided well before the election that if the results did not favor her, she would deny that they were legitimate. And she misused this Court to do so.” (RELATED: Kari Lake’s Election Suit Goes Forward)
The county and Hobbs’ attorneys said the courts “should not be used to harass political opponents and sow completely unfounded doubts about the integrity of elections.” The document further alleged Lake’s lawsuit stemmed from a “lack of legal and factual merit” in order to “spread disinformation” about the election.
Bryan Blehm, an attorney for Lake, argued her witnesses laid out “detailed facts” to prove the alleged “intentional misconduct” carried out in the gubernatorial election, according to a legal document obtained by the Daily Caller. Lake’s attorneys argued neither Maricopa County nor Hobbs have made a substantial argument to justify sanctions.
“As demonstrated above, Plaintiff’s [Lake] claims were substantiated, brought in good faith, and further are a matter of public concerns,” according to the document. “None of Defendants [sic] [Maricopa County] arguments has any merit nor do Defendants point to single case analogous to this case that would justify sanctions and attorneys’ fees.”
Blehm further pushed back against Maricopa County’s claim that Lake’s witnesses cited no evidence to suggest intentional misconduct, arguing the court did show evidence of “intent and outcome determinative misconduct” and “legitimate” concerns about the state of Arizona’s election process.
“Plaintiff’s [sic] put forth evidence in good faith that showed substantial support for her claims—claims which also remain of great public concern,” the document concluded. “Defendants’ motion for sanctions is not supported by case law or the record. Trust in the election process is not furthered by punishing those who bring legitimate claims as Plaintiff did here. In fact, sanctioning Plaintiff would have the opposite effect. For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff requests that the Court deny Defendants’ motion.”
Lake lost to Hobbs by one percentage point, 50.4%-49.5%, almost one week after voters headed to the polls in November. The candidate refused to concede the race and called the results “BS” in a tweet Nov. 14.
Maricopa County faced issues with ballot counting, voting machines and hours-long lines at the polls. The county had roughly 60 malfunctioning voting machines, which caused problems in 25% of the polling locations, Reuters reported Nov. 9. The issues resulted in election officials taking six days to count the results.
A judge in Maricopa County rejected a Republican-led request to keep polls open past 7 p.m., ruling there was no sufficient evidence that voters were unable to vote because of the machines’ issues, the outlet reported.
Lake centered her gubernatorial campaign around claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from former President Donald Trump. She said in March the so-called “rigged election” is the “biggest story out there.” Lake’s skepticism of the election led to her receiving an endorsement from Trump.
She further prematurely declared victory against the close race with her opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson, when the race was still too close to call, and she suggested the election officials intentionally interfered with the race to prevent her from winning.