Defeated Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) was ordered on Tuesday to pay $33,000 in legal fees to Governor-elect Katie Hobbs (D) after Lake’s lawsuit to overturn the midterm election was dismissed.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson ordered Lake to compensate expert witnesses against Lake’s dismissed claims of election fraud.
Hobbs had initially asked to be awarded more than $600,000 to compensate for fees and expenses accrued in defending against Lake’s lawsuit, which had targeted Hobbs, who is currently Arizona’s secretary of state. She will be sworn in as governor on January 5 after winning the election by some 17,000 votes.
Hobbs had signed onto a motion, along with Maricopa County elections officials, requesting that Lake be sanctioned for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit. Judge Thompson on Tuesday rejected the request for additional sanctions.
“There is no doubt that each side believes firmly in its position with great conviction,” the Judge wrote. “The fact that plaintiff [Lake] failed to meet the burden of clear and convincing evidence…does not equate to a finding that her claims were, or were not, groundless and presented in bad faith.”
In her lawsuit Lake had argued that defective printers at some polling places in Maricopa County, home to more than 60% of Arizona’s voters, produced ballots that were too light to be read by the on-site tabulators at polling places. Lines backed up in some areas amid the confusion on Election Day.
However, affected ballots were taken to the more sophisticated counters at the elections department headquarters in downtown Phoenix, and Maricopa election officials countered that all ballots were counted and that voters could go to any polling place in the county on Election Day, many of which had little or no line with wait times posted online.
On Tuesday Lake filed a notice of appeal against the order to pay $33,000.