By Corinne Murdock |
Kari Lake plans to appeal her lawsuit against governor-elect Katie Hobbs in her capacity as secretary of state and Maricopa County.
Maricopa County Superior Court declared in a ruling issued on Christmas Eve that Hobbs was governor-elect because Lake presented no “clear and convincing evidence” of election misconduct or fraud.
“[Election workers performed] their role with integrity. Not perfectly, as no system on this earth is perfect, but more than sufficient to comply with the law and conduct a valid election,” wrote Thompson.
On Monday, Maricopa County sought sanctions against Lake and her attorneys, Brian Blehm and Kurt Olsen. The trio could owe up to $696,000 to cover attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by the county and secretary of state’s office. The county asserted that Lake kept up a “sustained attack on Arizona’s elections” long before this recent election, and filed her lawsuit in bad faith.
The county cited a since-deleted tweet from Lake, which shared a report compiling claims from “legal experts” that Judge Peter Thompson’s ruling was “ghostwritten” by the likes of top Democratic election attorney and principal Russiagate figure Marc Elias and others.
Lake would be far from the first facing sanctions for disputing an election in recent years. There are at least three other parties with outstanding sanctions.
Prominent among Lake’s claims of election malfeasance were missing chain of custody documentation for Election Day ballots in violation of the Election Procedures Manual (EPM) and inducing Ballot On Demand (BOD) printer issues by using 19” instead of 20” ballots.
Thompson preceded his 10-page court ruling by acknowledging voters’ “anger and frustration” over the “inconvenience and confusion” at vote centers, but issued a reminder that his duty was to weigh Lake’s claims and the actions of Maricopa County and the state against the law.
“[T]his Court’s duty is not solely to incline an ear to public outcry,” wrote Thompson.
In order to prevail, Lake needed to prove that alleged misconduct such as EPM violations and BOD irregularities were intentional, conducted by an officer making or participating in a canvass, intended to change the election outcome, and resulted in a change in the election outcome.
The ruling reviewed the testimonies of Lake’s witnesses: Mark Sonnenklar, a Republican National Committee election attorney; Heather Honey, a supply chain auditor and consultant; Clay Parikh, a Northrup Grumman cybersecurity expert; David Betencourt, a temporary technical election support employee (“T-Tech”) with Maricopa County; and Richard Baris, director of Big Data Poll.
With the exception of Honey, Thompson determined that these witnesses completely failed to relay personal knowledge of intentional or unintentional election misconduct. Honey testified that Runbeck Election Services employees introduced about 50 ballots of family members into the stream.
However, Thompson determined that Honey’s claims were insufficient to meet the burden of proof because these ballots weren’t clear and convincing evidence of affecting the election outcome. Thompson noted that Maricopa County in its testimony clarified that it only granted Runbeck permission to submit general public ballots, not those family member ballots.
“Every single witness before the Court disclaimed any personal knowledge of such misconduct. The Court cannot accept speculation or conjecture in place of clear and convincing evidence,” wrote Thompson.
Thompson declared further that Lake didn’t offer sufficient evidence to contradict the testimonies of Election Day director Scott Jarrett or County Recorder Stephen Richer.
In response to the ruling, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Gates declared that Lake sought media attention, not a remedy to the election.
“Plaintiff Lake’s lawsuit was never about well-pled facts and evidence. Instead, it was the continuation of a made-for-TV tirade from a candidate who cannot or will not accept the fact that she lost,” said Gates. “Arizona courts have made it clear that frivolous political theater meant to undermine elections will not be tolerated.”
During a Turning Point USA event earlier this month, Lake pledged to take this case “all the way to the Supreme Court.”