Hobbs asks court to sanction Lake over unproven election claims
(The Hill) – Arizona Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D) and Maricopa County asked a judge to sanction Kari Lake and her attorneys on Monday after Lake unsuccessfully challenged her loss in last month’s gubernatorial race.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson on Saturday ruled against Lake in her election challenge that alleged officials committed misconduct to secure Hobbs’s victory.
The county, which comprises about 60% of Arizona’s population and became the epicenter of Lake’s challenge, argued that the Republican’s lawsuit constituted harassment, was groundless, and was not made in good faith.
Their sanctions motion was joined by Hobbs in both her capacities as governor-elect and secretary of state.
“Courts are established by Arizona’s Constitution and statutes to resolve actual disputes between parties,” the county’s attorneys wrote to the judge. “They do not exist so that candidates for political office can attempt to make political statements and fundraise. And they should not be used to harass political opponents and sow completely unfounded doubts about the integrity of elections. All of those things happened in this matter.”
Maricopa County and Hobbs argued Lake and her attorneys should have known that they had no evidence to successfully mount an election challenge.
They also noted Lake’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results prior to the midterms and a tweet Lake issued on Sunday accusing the judge of integrity violations.
There is no evidence that the judge engaged in the conduct alleged by Lake, who has since deleted the tweet, and her campaign in court filings contended that the tweet was merely quoting an article published by a conservative outlet.
The judge had dismissed eight of 10 counts alleged in Lake’s lawsuit prior to trial, ruling they did not constitute proper grounds for an election contest, but the judge permitted a trial to move forward so Lake could attempt to prove the two remaining counts.
Following the two-day trial, the judge ultimately found the campaign did not provide sufficient evidence to prove that officials intentionally committed misconduct, that the misconduct was intended to affect the results, or the outcome was changed as a result.
Lake’s campaign, which has vowed to appeal the ruling, said the sanctions motion “has no basis in law or fact” in its response, arguing the judge’s decision permitting a trial should merit the denial of the motion.
“The issues raised before this Court were of significant concern to millions of Arizona voters as to the causes of chaos that arose on Election Day — and the administration of elections in Maricopa County generally — and Plaintiff’s claims deserved to be brought and heard,” Lake’s campaign wrote to the judge.