Kari Lake Lawyers Sanctioned for False Election Allegations
The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday fined the lawyers of Kari Lake, the 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate, ordering them to pay thousands of dollars for repeating “unequivocal” campaign claims in court.
Chief Justice Robert Brutinel fined Lake’s attorneys $2,000 for making “false factual representations to the Court.”
Governor Katie Hobbs and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, both Democrats, had called for the sanctions after Lake repeatedly claimed that thousands of ‘uncounted votes’ had been added to Arizona’s vote tally during of his loss to Hobbs by approximately 17,000 votes.
Even after the Supreme Court “concluded and expressly declared the claim unsubstantiated,” Brutinel wrote, Lake continued to repeat as “undisputed” the claim that 35,563 uncounted ballots were cast. added to the total count at a third-party processing facility.
“Sometimes campaigns and their ensuing hyperbole turn into legal challenges. But once a contest enters the legal arena, ethical rules for lawyers apply,” Brutinel wrote. “While we must ensure that legal sanctions are never brought against candidates or their lawyers for asserting their legal rights in good faith, we must also diligently apply the rules of ethics on which the public trust depends. in our justice system and where the truth-seeking function of our decision-making process is unjustifiably hampered. »
Brutinel denied Hobbs and Fontes’ request for attorney fees as penalties.
Kurt Olsen, a lawyer for Lake, said in a statement: “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision, but we look forward to presenting our case at trial on the allegation of illegal signatures and any other claims that the trial court could consider.”
Lake, who has built a national profile that relies heavily on promoting former President Donald Trump’s election lies, refused to concede his run, instead launching a legal battle and filing a 70-page lawsuit in December. asking for a court order that declared her a winner.
Although the state high court in March declined to hear most of Lake’s appeals, it referred one of his claims to a lower court for consideration. His challenge regarding the verification of signatures on early Maricopa County ballots remains unresolved.
Paul Smith-Leonard, spokesman for the Secretary of State, said in a statement that Fontes was “satisfied with the Supreme Court’s order and the accountability it requires of those seeking judicial relief.”
A spokesperson for Hobbs’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.
The punishment is not the first time lawyers have been punished in Arizona for false election claims.
Late last year, a federal judge sanctioned attorneys for Lake and fellow Republican Mark Finchem, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for secretary of state, following a lawsuit related to the elections.