Republican Election Official Sues Kari Lake for Defamation

June 23, 2023

A top Republican election official in Arizona filed a defamation lawsuit Thursday against 2022 gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R).

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer asserts that because of Lake’s false claims that she actually won in 2022 and had the election stolen from her, he has faced “violent vitriol and other dire consequences” including death threats and the loss of friendships.

“Rather than accept political defeat, rather than get a new job, she has sought to undermine confidence in our elections and has mobilized millions of her followers against me,” Richer wrote in an op-ed in The Arizona Republic.

A former Phoenix TV news anchor, Lake lost the election to now-Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) by a little more than 17,000 votes. Lake has asserted ever since that problems with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County, home to more than 60% of Arizona’s voters, left citizens unable to vote, or for their votes to go uncounted—a charge county election officials have rebuked. 

Lake was sanctioned and ordered to pay $33,000 in legal fees to Hobbs in December, after her lawsuit to overturn the midterm election was dismissed. She lost an appeal in February and in May Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter A. Thompson dismissed her last remaining legal claim, stating she had failed to prove that the county did not verify signatures on mail ballots as required by law.

Despite her legal losses, Lake continues to claim that Richer and other Maricopa County officials interfered in the election to prevent her from winning.

A spokesperson for Lake did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Richer’s lawsuit, which names her, her campaign and her political fundraising group as defendants.

Along with unspecified damages, Richer is seeking a court order declaring Lake’s statements false and requiring her to delete them from social media.

PHOTO Source: Gage Skidmore

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