Hobbs, Fontes, Maricopa County clap back at Lake’s appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court
The Democratic governor & secretary of state want Lake & her attorneys to be sanctioned, too
Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and her lawyers “continue to malign and erode the foundations upon which our great state stands” through their court case contesting the November 2022 election results, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes told the Arizona Supreme Court this week in a filing asking the court to reject Lake’s legal challenge seeking to overturn her election loss.
Lake, a Republican, claims she is the true governor of Arizona and that the 2022 election — which Katie Hobbs won by more than 17,000 votes — was stolen from her, much like what she believes happened to former President Donald Trump in 2020.
The would-be governor’s election challenge was first dismissed in December, after a two-day trial during which she failed to provide evidence backing up her claims that Maricopa County elections officials rigged things against her. After an appellate court last month upheld that dismissal, Lake followed through on a pledge to take the case to the state Supreme Court.
On March 13, the defendants in the case — Fontes, Hobbs and Maricopa County — filed biting responses to Lake’s petition asking the Supreme Court to take up her election contest case. All three asked the high court to reject Lake’s suit.
Fontes and Hobbs went a step further, asking the court to sanction Lake and her lawyers, Scottsdale divorce attorney Bryan Blehm and D.C. corporate employment lawyer Kurt Olsen, for bringing a suit based on frivolous claims.
“Those who invoke our Courts must do so in good faith,” Craig Morgan, an attorney for Fontes, wrote in his response to the Supreme Court. “We cannot allow a disgruntled vocal minority to weaponize our Courts, sow unfounded distrust in our election processes, malign our public servants, and undermine our democracy – all for the purpose of trying to overturn the People’s will and topple an election.”
Since her initial suit, Lake has said she would have won the governor’s seat if not for intentional suppression of Republican voters and rampant election fraud in Maricopa County. Lake has asked the courts to either install her as the governor or call for a new election for the position.
But Lake failed to convince the trial and appellate courts that a Maricopa County employee had intentionally tampered with Election Day ballot printers in an effort to disenfranchise Republican voters and that the county’s failure to adhere to chain-of-custody rules for early ballots dropped off on Election Day led to thousands of illegal ballots being injected into the system.
In Maricopa County’s response to Lake’s request for the Supreme Court to review her case, county lawyer Tom Liddy wrote that Lake failed to identify any “argument illustrating a need for this Court to review the court of appeals’ Opinion. It does not identify a single novel legal issue that this Court needs to clarify.”
Abha Khanna, an attorney representing Hobbs, agreed with Liddy’s assertions and added that Lake’s petition to the Supreme Court simply rehashed the claims that the appeals and superior courts already rejected, without introducing any new legal arguments regarding those claims.
All three defendants in the case called out Lake and her legal team for both misrepresenting evidence and presenting new claims, something generally not allowed in the appeals process.
In the Supreme Court petition, Lake’s lawyers for the first time claimed that records showed 263,379 ballots delivered to Runbeck Election Services, the county’s election contractor, and that incoming scan receipts show 298,942 ballots returned to Maricopa County from Runbeck, for a difference of 35,563 ballots that Lake claimed were illegally mixed in with the legal ballots.
Khanna wrote that, through these claims, Lake “blatantly misrepresents key facts from the record.”
In Lake’s initial election challenge, she said that the chain of custody documents she ended up citing in the Supreme Court petition did not exist.
“Now, Lake argues that not only did those records exist, but that they show that 35,563 more ballots were inserted at Runbeck and sent back to (the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center) for tabulation,” Khanna wrote.
But Lake included only part of an exhibit from the December trial — just nine pages out of 43 total — to prove these claims, and Morgan wrote that those pages do not show all early ballots that were dropped off at vote centers on Election Day and delivered to Runbeck after the polls closed.
Some of those documents recorded the receipt of ballots delivered on or after Election Day, which are considered late, and by law were not tabulated, according to Morgan.
He wrote that this attempt to introduce a new argument to the Supreme Court, based on a mischaracterization of the evidence, whether done intentionally or out of ignorance, was inexcusable and warranted sanctions from the court.
“Ms. Lake and her counsel continue to push false claims of election fraud, now on appeal going so far as to misrepresent the record and the law,” Morgan wrote. “This Court is the last opportunity for our judiciary to remind those who seek its recourse that they must do so with integrity. If this Court sits silent in the face of what has occurred, then those who would due (sic) our union harm will continue to malign and erode the foundations upon which our great state stands.”
This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.