Maricopa County Recorder Had Staff Compile News On His Personal Defamation Lawsuit Against Kari Lake

Maricopa County Recorder Had Staff Compile News On His Personal Defamation Lawsuit Against Kari Lake

By Staff Reporter |

Public records revealed that Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer tasked staff with compiling articles and online content pertaining to his personal defamation lawsuit against Kari Lake — Senate candidate and 2022 gubernatorial candidate — as well as topics of personal political interest.

Richer also tasked staff with printing his favorite articles and pieces of online content from these lengthy daily news compilations and organizing them in a binder. Richer admitted in one email obtained by public records that this daily content gathering assignment took a “significant amount of time” for staff to put together.

Richer filed his defamation lawsuit last June against Lake over her claims of him improperly administering the 2022 election. Lake has unsuccessfully petitioned to dismiss his lawsuit; her petition was denied earlier this month.

The county recorder’s staff weren’t just tasked with tracking online chatter about Richer’s personal lawsuit. 

Records reveal that Richer has regularly tasked staff with tracking a wide variety of media reports and other online content on topics of personal political interest to Richer, unrelated to the statutory duties of the recorder’s office. This included coverage of other elected officials in Arizona and across the nation; the political landscape for the 2024 election; the indictments against former President Donald Trump; developments in social media; and updates on various public policies. 

Some news and online content gathered by staff touched on legal challenges to free speech.

That prompted AZ Free News to ask Richer about the greater nature and purpose of his content gathering assignments, including whether the gathered content inspired, informed, or guided his defamation lawsuit, and why staff hours were dedicated to finding content unrelated to the duties of the recorder’s office.

In response to our questions, a spokesperson defended Richer’s content gathering tasks as consistent with the administration of his predecessors. 

“Providing leadership with news clips relating to the office and regarding current events is a standard practice. It has been a practice of this office for the past three years and it was originally implemented by staff from former Senator McSally’s office, where it was a standard practice, who joined the Recorder’s Office in January 2021,” stated the spokesperson. “Recorder Richer values news and being aware of developments within our state and relating to our statutory responsibilities.”

Richer’s office didn’t respond to a repeat of questions left unanswered by their statement: what bearing the content gathered had on Richer’s personal defamation lawsuit leading up to it, and why the recorder tasked staff with compiling news coverage of his personal defamation lawsuit as well as topics of personal political interest unrelated to the recorder’s office. 

Richer roping the recorder’s office in on his personal defamation case appears to be related to his interest in securing greater restrictions on free speech. Other emails obtained from public records reflected how Richer began to signal concern over the impacts of free speech on his office in the aftermath of the 2020 election. 

In September 2021, the recorder drafted a proposal for greater restrictions on free speech in an unpublished op-ed pitched to The National Review.

Richer argued that free speech restrictions should be expanded, even if the wrongs of 2020 election claims were righted through avenues such as the Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation cases against Fox News and top Trump personalities Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Patrick Byrne, and Mike Lindell. 

Dominion Voting Systems effectively prevailed in their lawsuit against Fox News in 2023, amassing the largest settlement in media defamation history: over $787.5 million. 

“[E]ven if Dominion wins all of these lawsuits (and certainly if it does not), it still might be time to revisit our First Amendment jurisprudence,” wrote Richer. “If we don’t, I fear that the morass of disinformation will blanket over legitimate information in all areas of public importance.”

National Review submissions editor Jack Butler rejected the piece over Richer’s proposed restrictions on free speech. Butler encouraged Richer to resubmit the op-ed, sans the call for free speech restrictions; the piece was never published. 

“I think we’d still be open to a version of this argument, but that sheds the bits about reconsidering First Amendment jurisprudence,” said Butler. “Even just revising it to express hope that the Dominion lawsuits have their desired effect.”

Although National Review denied the op-ed containing the free speech reform proposal, Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) accepted a version Richer drafted for a speech several weeks prior containing a more direct critique of the First Amendment. 

In that speech, Richer said that lies and disinformation were the greatest threat to elections and the government; because of that, the recorder characterized the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment, as a “thorn in the side” of his office.

Richer lamented that the First Amendment protects lies, to a certain degree. The Supreme Court ruled this to be the case in their 2012 decision for United States v. Alvarez which pertained to lying about military service, and their 1964 ruling in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan which pertained to deliberate lying about the government. 

Certain speech presenting specific harms aren’t protected, such as defamation, fraud, false advertising, perjury, plagiarism, and threats deemed grave and imminent.

However, in that earlier version presented to MCCCD, Richer admitted hesitation to his own desire for First Amendment reforms.

“Yes, I think it’s possible that our First Amendment jurisprudence needs to change,” said Richer. “But I’m hesitant to disrupt something that has served this country so well for so long.”

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Teachers Take Notes: Public Education Is Not About You

Teachers Take Notes: Public Education Is Not About You

By Tiffany Benson |

A retired educator once told me, “Parents don’t have rights, they have responsibilities.” Considering this viewpoint alongside the comment below, I can’t find any context in which these statements are appropriate.

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In the same vein, former state Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach.” Not to mention, the National School Board Association incited FBI Director Merrick Garland to declare war against parents.

In light of all the anti-parental rights sentiments infecting our education system, I declare:

Children are an inheritance, a reward, and a gift from God (Ps. 127:3). Therefore, they belong to their parents/guardians, not government employees. If your beliefs run contrary to this truth, then the following commentary was written with you in mind.

Two incidents lead to my discussion on parental rights in education. The first involves backlash I received after posting this flier in a parent group on social media:

Group members were appalled that I used the page to inform parents of their right to choose how their children are educated. One said, “I wonder what teachers would think?” Another member incoherently stated that teachers were being “used as political pons.” (I think she meant “pawns,” but we’ll blame public education for the error). The elementary shoving match in the comment section revealed that my primary opponent was, in fact, a teacher.

I was pitifully accused of being a “political operative” and called out for not focusing on strengthening relationships in the district. Never mind that I’m one of five people willing to attend board meetings. I’m also willing to find common ground with opposing leaders to improve academic success and student safety.

Still, I am not pro-teacher. I am not pro-administration. And I will never be pro-government. I advocate for families who rely on the public education system. I’m not primarily in the business of “strengthening relationships” with districts that condone violence, discriminate against Christians, force males and females to share private spaces, and socially transition students’ gender without parental knowledge or consent.

Our Parental Bill of Rights is one radical majority vote away from destruction. So, if giving parents options to circumvent government schools triggers you, then you’re part of the problem.

The second incident occurred on January 25, 2024, when teacher and Peoria Education Association (PEA) President, Trina Berg, requested public comments be moved to the end of the board meeting. Berg stated:

“My request is that we consider, and you have a discussion, and vote on moving public comments to the end of the board meeting. The reason why is because we have business we have to do. And I would appreciate it if we actually came in and did our business first … People still have the ability to speak on whatever they want, but it’s when business is done.”

Wouldn’t you know that public comments were relocated from position 5.1 to position 9.1 at the February 8 board meeting. Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) Board President Rebecca Proudfit — appointed by the financially compromised Maricopa County Superintendent Steve Watson — led the charge in compliance with Berg’s request.

During public comments, Proudfit and PUSD Board Member Melissa Ewing repeatedly caused interruptions, effectively violating one constituent’s First Amendment rights as well as Arizona Open Meeting Law § 38-431.01. The dynamic duo took offense to the speaker’s use of the word “evil” to describe transgender indoctrination in public schools. In the case of PUSD, the speaker’s assessment is entirely accurate.

When confronted about moving the comments, Proudfit claimed some teachers were uncomfortable with the atmosphere at PUSD board meetings. She also said the results of a survey — somehow received by educators but missed by parents — favored changing the meeting format. When pressed further about the timing of her decision, Proudfit said, “[Berg] did email me afterwards to say thank you … But I swear I wouldn’t do anything like that just because someone asked me to do it.”

Bear in mind, this is the same Trina Berg who staged an illegal sick out in defiance of the board’s decision to resume in-person learning after the 2020 winter break. District emails reveal that Berg and her co-conspirator, PEA Treasurer Jessica Batty (also a teacher), planned the union-backed catastrophe. At one point, Berg wrote, “[W]e are trying to show that this decision was especially dumb for retention.”

Berg’s shenanigans — which resulted in the closure of 13 schools — disrupted academic progress and left parents without childcare. So, why wasn’t this activist, posing as a teacher, fired?

The statement, “Teachers are not the primary stakeholders in public education,” is true contractually and financially. This is why teachers’ unions exist. Of course, educators typically have children, own property, and pay taxes in their district. But from a business standpoint, certified staff members do not hold revenue-generating positions — they are paid to provide a community service. For clarification: parents (and constituents) are patrons, students are beneficiaries, teachers are public servants.

Without parents and students, teachers wouldn’t have jobs.

When it comes to directing a child’s education, the law clearly identifies parents as the experts. And whether we consider parents “good” or “bad,” their rights are protected under the United States Constitution. The place of a teacher is to transfer knowledge, not propaganda, and foster an environment that’s conducive to learning, not excessive self-expression.

Communist dictator Vladimir Lenin — the man history deems responsible for the death of 10 million people — is credited with saying, “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.” This is the ideological framework of someone who aims to incite rebellion and break family bonds. I implore leftist educators to reject radical approaches to instruction, abandon hypercritical theories, and, instead, work to form an alliance with parents/guardians.

Finally, I commend sensible and honorable educators who practice transparency, partner with families, and build strong support networks for their students. You are the teachers we can entrust with our youth. Now more than ever, your skills and compassion are needed to shape young minds for the betterment of society and secure the future of our nation.

Tiffany Benson is the Founder of Restore Parental Rights in Education, a grassroots advocate for families, educators, and school board members. For nearly two decades, Tiffany’s creative writing pursuits have surpassed most interests as she continues to contribute to her blog She encourages everyday citizens to take an active role in defending and preserving American values for future generations.

The Resignation Of Gilbert’s Digital Government Chief Is A Big Victory For Independent Media

The Resignation Of Gilbert’s Digital Government Chief Is A Big Victory For Independent Media

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Government leaders must be held accountable. That’s supposed to be the job of the mainstream media. But somewhere along the line, this changed. Many journalists employed by traditional corporate media started to twist facts to drive home a particular narrative. Others began disguising their own opinions as news. And some just stopped doing any real investigations altogether—choosing to protect our elected officials and government bureaucrats from any sort of real accountability.

Now, with fewer people trusting in the mainstream media, our nation has seen a rise in independent news media. We have a great one right here in Arizona called AZ Free News that has shown it is willing to do real research and investigation into what is happening in our state. And their latest investigative report shows exactly why independent journalism is critical for the future of our state and nation…


America’s Next Door Neighbor Is Taking Anti-Fossil Fuel Craziness To A Whole New Level

America’s Next Door Neighbor Is Taking Anti-Fossil Fuel Craziness To A Whole New Level

By David Blackmon |

Imagine this: You invest a couple of hours towards watching “Juice: Power, Politics, and the Grid,” the excellent new documentary produced by Robert Bryce and Tyson Culver.

It’s a documentary that advocates for greater use of nuclear energy, but also has positive things to say about the need to continue using natural gas and coal to maintain stability in our energy grids. Or, you read the outstanding book by author Alex Epstein, “Fossil Future,” which advocates for the proposition that oil, natural gas, and coal will play significant roles in the global energy mix well into the future.

But then, you wake up the next morning only to find that these three men have been arrested and charged with the crime of, well, of saying nice things about fossil fuels.

Don’t laugh: If one Canadian member of parliament has his way, that will become law up in the Great White North. That MP, Charlie Angus of Timmins-James Bay, Ontario, introduced a bill Monday that would invoke criminal penalties for saying positive things about oil, natural gas, and coal, even when those things are manifestly true. The bill reads, in part, “It is prohibited for a person to promote a fossil fuel, a fossil fuel-related brand element or the production of a fossil fuel.”

The Toronto Sun reported this week that Angus made repeated promises to treat the oil, gas, and coal industries in the same way western governments went after the big tobacco companies in the 1990s. The liberal member of Justin Trudeau’s New Democrat Party claimed his bill was about stopping the spread of falsehoods about these fossil fuels, which the climate alarmist movement has done its best to turn into global boogeymen to which every environmental and weather ill is to be ascribed.

“The Big Tobacco moment has finally arrived for Big Oil. We need to put human health ahead of the lies of the oil sector,” Angus told the House on Monday.

So, Angus says the bill is about “stopping the spread of falsehoods by the oil industry,” but the bill actually says it is about making it a crime to “promote a fossil fuel, a fossil fuel-related brand element or the production of a fossil fuel.” The actual language in the law would make it a crime to advertise the price of gasoline on gas station billboards or for Chevron to run TV ads bragging about the additive it calls “Techron.”

The language in the bill would make it a crime for advocates like Bryce and Culver to produce their documentaries and for Epstein to publish his books. All these would be deemed illegal and indeed heretical to the doctrines of the climate alarm religion under Angus’s bill.

The actual language, in other words, has nothing to do with objective truth. It has to do with banning speech this Canadian MP doesn’t like.

For several years, the great standup comic Jeff Foxworthy hosted a TV show called, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?” Obviously, MP Angus would flunk that show since every 5th-grader who ever appeared on it would immediately notice the logical conflict between the bill’s language and the promotion of it by its author.

The simple truth is that Bryce, Culver, Epstein and many other advocates who try to bring some level of sanity to our energy and climate debate are right about the future for fossil fuels and nuclear generation. Those energy sources currently supply roughly 85% of the primary energy mix, a level that has been intractably consistent for the past quarter century despite the spending of trillions of dollars on subsidies and tax breaks for wind, solar and electric vehicles.

Indeed, the nuclear renaissance advocated for by Bryce and Culver could even cause that percentage to rise in the coming decades.

Here’s a thought: Perhaps a better approach here would be for Canada’s Parliament and America’s congress to enact laws making it a crime for MPs or members of congress to spread falsehoods about the bills they’re trying to pass.

That would be a real public service, which of course means it can never happen.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

David Blackmon is a contributor to The Daily Caller News Foundation, an energy writer, and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

Gilbert’s Office Of Digital Government Is Part Of A Clear Pattern To Control Conservative Speech

Gilbert’s Office Of Digital Government Is Part Of A Clear Pattern To Control Conservative Speech

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Government officials throughout our country are in deep need of some education on the First Amendment. And the latest ones are currently serving in the Town of Gilbert right here in Arizona.

Last week, AZ Free News released an investigative report on Gilbert’s Office of Digital Government (ODG) and its Orwellian monitoring of employees’ online speech. For over a decade, the ODG, which is made up of approximately a dozen employees, has been working to ensure that Gilbert’s 30 official digital accounts—along with the personal online posts of all Town of Gilbert employees—align with a progressive, liberal agenda. And how much do you think this is costing taxpayers in Gilbert? Over $1.1 million each year in salary alone, with Chief Digital Officer Dana Berchman making over $200,000 annually.

When asked about the allegations in the investigative report, the town responded that it “will not tolerate divisive, offensive or culturally insensitive posts from employees purporting to represent the Town.” That’s interesting. Who decides what’s divisive, offensive, or culturally insensitive? The employees within the ODG? Dana Berchman herself?