kari lake
Kari Lake Withdraws Appeal To Access Ballot Envelopes, Loses Petition To Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit

March 7, 2024

By Corinne Murdock |

Senate candidate Kari Lake sustained several blows in court this week: a withdrawal of her appeal for access to Maricopa County’s 2022 election ballot envelopes, and the denial of her petition to dismiss Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s defamation lawsuit. 

The former gubernatorial candidate filed the withdrawal on Monday in her case seeking access to Maricopa County’s ballot envelopes from the contested 2022 election (CV2023-051480). A similar, separate lawsuit from the Glendale-based nonprofit We the People AZ Alliance (WTPAA) remains active.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer expressed relief to AZ Free News that the county attorney’s office had one less election dispute case to manage, though he noted that other cases involving Lake remain. The attorney for both Lake and WTPAA’s cases, Bryan Blehm, didn’t respond to our request for comment by press time. 

“She lost. We won. The same could be said of every case Kari has brought against my office or the Board of Supervisors (and there have been many). We follow the law.  Period,” said Richer. “For anyone curious about allegations of election or public records misconduct, and who’s following the law and who’s not, these cases offer a very clear answer.”

Three other cases have been filed by Lake involving Richer, none of which have yielded any wins: CV2022-014827, which sought remedy for those disenfranchised by the mass ballot equipment malfunctions on Election Day, was voluntarily dismissed in November 2022; CV2022-015519, which sought access to Election Day voting records, was dismissed without prejudice; and CV2022-095403, which challenged the validity of the 2022 election declaring Lake’s opponent, Gov. Katie Hobbs, the winner. In the latter, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected most of Lake’s claims last March, with the trial court rejecting the remaining claim in May. Lake promptly filed an appeal. 

Monday’s action came after several months of waiting on the candidate’s next move, after she promised an appeal. Last December, the Maricopa County Superior Court denied Lake’s petition to obtain the 2022 Maricopa County ballot envelopes. Judge John Hannah said that the release of the ballot affidavit envelopes would result in harm to individual voters, such as voter fraud, harassment, and identity theft, due to the inclusion of voter signatures alongside voters’ names, addresses, and telephone numbers. 

“Disclosure of the ballot affidavit envelopes therefore would create a risk of widespread fraud where none exists at present,” said Hannah.

Another legal battle persists between Richer and Lake. On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court allowed Richer’s defamation lawsuit against Lake to proceed to trial. 

Richer sued Lake last June, alleging that the Senate candidate had “falsely and with actual malice” accused him of intentionally printing the wrong size of ballots and inserting 300,000 illegal or invalid early-vote ballots during the 2022 general election. 

In her unsuccessful motion to dismiss, Lake argued that her claims constituted legitimate concerns about the 2022 election.

In response to the development in his defamation case, Richer posted on X that Lake had made specific, easily falsifiable claims that she knew were false.

“Words matter,” said Richer. “[T]hose false claims — broadcast to millions of people, often while seeking donations — had, no surprise, a very material impact on me and mine.”

Richer later declared that his team of over 15 attorneys had built a strong case with favorable precedence.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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