Leftist Billionaire Bankrolling Maricopa County Recorder’s Reelection Campaign

Leftist Billionaire Bankrolling Maricopa County Recorder’s Reelection Campaign

By Staff Reporter |

A leftist billionaire has a vested interest in the reelection of Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.

Campaign mailers paid for by Women for Justice disclosed that venture capitalist and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman was one of the three top donors in their effort to support Richer, in addition to Sac Holdings and Robert Granieri.

Women for Justice is a leftist nonprofit advocacy group formerly known as Women for Bernie Sanders 2016. 

Hoffman rose up over the last decade as one of the most influential Democratic donors against former President Donald Trump. Since 2015, Hoffman has contributed nearly $64.7 million to left-wing causes per FEC records. This election cycle alone he has contributed over $28 million, though FEC records don’t reflect any direct Arizona contributions. 

This wouldn’t be the first time Hoffman has backed a candidate with an “R” by their name. In 2022, Hoffman contributed $2,000 to former House Speaker Rusty Bowers’ reelection bid.

Prior to that, in 2021 Hoffman contributed $5,300 to then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ gubernatorial campaign. 

In an effort to beat Trump in a reelection, Hoffman founded FWD.us, and has served as a financial backer for the Hopewell Fund, an arm of the Arabella Advisors dark money network. 

Hoffman spent $100 million of his own funds to defeat Trump and the GOP in 2020, and created the Investing in Us tech finance company to defeat Republicans. 

In pursuit of his goal to eliminate Trump and allied GOP members, Hoffman’s Investing in Us organization, in an “experimental” initiative led by former Obama administration federal agents, orchestrated a fake news social media campaign in the 2018 Alabama special election to undermine GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. Although Hoffman apologized when caught, he never published the disinformation policies to prevent similar incidents from occurring as promised

In 2021, Hoffman teamed up with dark money megadonor George Soros to back a disinformation-tackling media firm led by Democrat strategist Tara McGowan, Good Information Inc., and the nonprofit she previously ran, ACRONYM.

ACRONYM spent $100 million to defeat Trump; financed Shadow, a company responsible for the delayed reporting of the Iowa caucus results; and launched Courier Newsroom, a network of seven news sites at the time positioned in swing states that prompted a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) complaint for allegedly disguising the true nature as a political committee. One of those news sites, The Copper Courier, exists in Arizona.

More recently, Hoffman funded the E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit against Trump for publicly denying her 2019 book claim that he sexually assaulted her in either 1995 or 1996.

This month, Hoffman announced his intent to invest millions into Smartmatic, the voting technology company embattled by claims of rigged vote counting after the 2020 election, in their lawsuit against Fox News. 

Richer admitted in a recent interview that, although he has been a Republican, he plans to vote for Joe Biden in November.

AZ Free News is your #1 source for Arizona news and politics. You can send us news tips using this link.

Fontes’ Elections Director Campaigns For Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer

Fontes’ Elections Director Campaigns For Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer

By Staff Reporter |

A top staffer for Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, is backing Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican. 

Fontes’ state elections director Lisa Marra praised Richer for his performance the past four years and encouraged people to vote for him.

“Maricopa County voters, including myself, are lucky to have Recorder Richer,” said Marra. “He’s responsible for so much more than just voter rolls. We need people like him in public office.”

Richer has faced widespread criticisms from within his own party over voter grievances with his view of the 2020 election’s validity and his administration of the 2022 election.

Aggrieved voters have made themselves a regular presence at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meetings. In September, voters made headlines for accusing the board and Richer of “deep state” affiliations.

Earlier this year, AZ Free News reported that he used his staff to compile news of his personal defamation lawsuit against Senate candidate and former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. 

Part of the grievance with Richer had to do with the political action committee he established to beat GOP candidates supportive of the claim that the 2020 election was stolen. The PAC — Pro-Democracy Republicans of Arizona — was seen as an overt attempt to influence elections, and prompted lawmakers to introduce legislation to ban similar PAC building. 

Richer’s PAC has raised over $88,500 since its inception in 2021 and spent about $83,000. In the summer of 2022, the PAC gave $45,000 to Defending Arizona Values, and $10,000 to Awareness Analytics.

Since last year, Richer’s PAC has paid him just over $8,000 for operating expenses, or just about $14,600 since the PAC’s inception. 

Ahead of the 2022 election, Richer also advised the Department of Homeland Security on tactics to moderate free speech. A controversial right-wing outlet, the Gateway Pundit, successfully sued Maricopa County over its denial of press passes under Richer. 

Marra apparently may relate: she faced similar revile as Richer during her stint as Cochise County Elections Director, a role she quit early last year. 

Marra testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she had received threats during her tenure over elections administration, a claim later discovered to not have any backing according to the Cochise County Attorney’s Office.

It was Marra who resisted the county’s efforts to conduct an expanded hand count audit during the 2022 election, citing since-scrutinized legal advice from the county attorney’s office. 

That same attorney, Brian McIntyre, remains under investigation by the State Bar for violating the county supervisors’ attorney-client privilege by allegedly colluding with Attorney General Kris Mayes and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes. 

McIntyre announced last month that he wouldn’t run for county attorney again, citing his inability to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

For her troubles while working in Cochise County, Marra received a settlement of $130,000 due to an alleged toxic work environment.

Richer’s primary opponent, State Rep. Justin Heap, has capitalized on the public discontent with Richer to advance his campaign. 

AZ Free News is your #1 source for Arizona news and politics. You can send us news tips using this link.

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.”

AZ Free News is your #1 source for Arizona news and politics. You can send us news tips using this link.

Kari Lake Argues For Dismissal Of Maricopa County Recorder’s Defamation Lawsuit

Kari Lake Argues For Dismissal Of Maricopa County Recorder’s Defamation Lawsuit

By Corinne Murdock |

On Tuesday the legal team for former GOP gubernatorial candidate, now Senate candidate, Kari Lake argued for the dismissal of Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s defamation lawsuit against her.

Richer filed his defamation lawsuit against Lake in June over her claims of his administration of the 2022 election. Lake filed a motion to dismiss in August. 

In his amended complaint, Richer alleged that Lake had “falsely and with actual malice” accused him of intentionally printing improperly-sized ballots and inserting 300,000 illegal or invalid early-vote ballots during his administration of the 2022 general election. Richer said that the accusations have caused him and his family real harm, including threats of violence and death. 

Lake’s motion to dismiss argued that she voiced legitimate concerns about the 2022 election, and that Richer’s lawsuit amounted to retaliation following two failed attempts at obtaining sanctions against her. In those denied requests for sanctions, Maricopa County Superior Court found that Lake’s claims weren’t groundless or brought forth in bad faith.

“The types of statements that Recorder Richer complains of are the types of statements directly related to his job performance that political foes and constituents critical of elected officials ordinarily make,” read the motion. 

During Tuesday’s arguments in the Maricopa County Superior Court, one of Richer’s attorneys, Cameron Kistler, said that Lake’s speech wasn’t hyperbole, but a statement of facts. 

“She’s making statements where she’s asserting these are actual facts that happened in the world, these are actual accusations of falsifiable criminal conduct,” said Kistler. 

Jen Wright, the former assistant attorney general serving on Lake’s team, countered that Lake did believe her speech to be true based on the facts at hand: the county’s admission that there were ballots that lacked chain of custody, and that printer problems did occur for some, still unknown reason. 

“I don’t think it’s a question of fact as to whether or not the printers malfunctioned, it’s a question of opinion as to how they characterized them,” said Wright. 

Richer accused Lake of issuing dozens of defamatory statements.

Jessica Banks-McDowell, an Arizona State University (ASU) law student on Lake’s team, said that court precedent clarifies that Richer’s intent via his filings is to stifle Lake’s speech. ASU’s First Amendment Clinic signed onto Lake’s defense. 

“There is very clear intent of his motivation to deter, retaliate against, or prevent Kari Lake’s lawful speech,” said Banks-McDowell.

Richer seeks an injunction that would force Lake to delete the allegedly defamatory statements.

Banks-McDowell further argued that Richer hadn’t met the burden of proving defamation occurred as required by A.R.S. 12-751, Arizona’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law. 

Kistler said that the anti-SLAPP law didn’t apply here because Lake’s team didn’t provide evidence to prove Lake’s disputed statements as true. 

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

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

Maricopa County Recorder: Progressive Social Issues Are Not Threats To America

By Corinne Murdock |

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer says that a number of progressive social issues aren’t major threats to America. 

Richer dismissed the notion that transgender activism, woke corporations, and critical race theory were the most important challenges facing America. He also deprioritized the concerns over globalization, worker power, and financialization.

Rather, Richer declared that he believed government regulation, tax rates, free trade, and illegal immigration were the top challenges facing America. 

Specifically: tax rates on corporations and job creators are too high, regulation is discouraging business growth and innovation, and tariffs on China are raising prices and interfering with free trade. 

The county recorder elicited his self-characterization in response to an American Compass report on a survey of Republicans describing “The New Conservative Voter.” By the report’s standards, Richer declared himself to be the “old right.” 

“Naive of me to think politics was about competing ideas for a governing philosophy,” stated Richer. 

A majority of survey respondents believed, in order, that transgender activism, woke corporations, illegal immigration, critical race theory, and globalization were the top five most important challenges facing America. 

Those survey responders most concerned with the threat of progressive cultural issues were characterized as “cultural” Republicans. They agreed that transgender activists are trying to erase the differences between boys and girls; that “woke” corporations are forcing their values on Americans; and that schools, businesses, and even the military are telling Americans that the country is racist.

Survey responders most concerned with illegal immigration, family and fertility, and higher education were characterized as “consensus” Republicans. They agreed that illegal immigration undercuts American workers and lowers their wages; not enough people are married and having kids; and the education system only works for people who are able to succeed in college. 

Those survey responders most concerned with globalization, worker power, and financialization were characterized as “new right” Republicans. They agreed that American manufacturing has been gutted by globalization and trade with China; workers have little control over their jobs and can’t do anything about it; and people make more money working Wall Street than building real businesses.

The survey respondents also overwhelmingly agreed that it’s become harder for a family to achieve middle-class security in America, that employers should offer better jobs and higher pay to bring in more workers, that colleges should have to bring down their costs and make loans themselves to students who need them, that tariffs are good and needed to boost American manufacturing, that the government should provide support to ensure that America is a leader in advanced technologies like semiconductors, that politicians should focus on cutting taxes and never consider raising them, and that the government shouldn’t implement welfare stipends under a “family benefit” policy.

However, survey respondents were more evenly divided on two issues. A lesser majority agreed that Wall Street investors are getting rich doing things that weaken our economy, and that unions are a negative force that harm workers, employers, and consumers.

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