Failed Republican candidate for governor of Arizona Kari Lake is being sued for defamation on accusations that she has spread knowingly false allegations about Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer. File photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT
June 23 (UPI) -- Maricopa County's top election official has filed a defamation lawsuit against Kari Lake, accusing the failed GOP gubernatorial candidate of spreading false claims that he intentionally sabotaged her election, which has resulted in him and his family receiving death threats.
Lake lost November's gubernatorial race to Democrat Katie Hobbs by 17,117 votes. But the former TV anchor and prominent 2020 presidential election denier has refused to concede and filed multiple lawsuits to overthrow the election results on accusations the process was illegitimate and tainted.
Despite each of her efforts being thrown out and her legal team being fined for repeating false statements related to last year's election, Lake maintains that she won the election.
On Thursday, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, sued Lake and her political action committees Kari Lake for Arizona and Save Arizona Fund for damages, on accusations that they have repeatedly defamed him following her defeat by saying he sabotaged the election to prevent her and other GOP candidates from being elected to office.
In the 104-page lawsuit, Richer said Lake and her action committees have falsely and recklessly spread lies that he intentionally printed 19-inch images on 20-inch ballots so tabulators would jam as well as injected 300,000 invalid early-vote ballots into the Maricopa County vote count.
Lake has claimed that printer malfunctions were intentional and affected the results. Maricopa County increased the length of ballots from 19 to 20 inches to accommodate the number of contests and propositions in both English and Spanish. Officials also opted to use 100-pound paper for the general election after sharpie pens used to mark ballots printed on 80-pound paper in 2020 bled through to the other side of the page.
In April, independent investigators ruled that the use of long, heavy paper to print ballots was to blame for long lines and frustrations at some Maricopa County polling stations but was not the result of wrongdoing.
In the lawsuit, Richer's lawyers quote instances of Lake spreading the so-called Ballot Size Sabotage and Bogus Ballot Injection accusations even after the Arizona Supreme Court found no evidence to support her claims of intentional misconduct.
"For the last six months, defendants have incessantly leveled the false Ballot Size Sabotage and Bogus Ballot Injection claims against Richer," the court document states. "Defendants made such false statements with actual malice through various mediums and spread those statements to new audiences through the defendants' social media accounts."
On Twitter, Richer said he had hoped the defamation would stop following the election and then her first failed trial, though the accusations persisted as she appealed the original decision and began a second round of litigation.
Richer and his lawyers state that as Lake has continued to spread her false claims she and her action committees have been profiting off of his expense.
"Defaming me is her path to campaign donations, speaking opportunities and national trips," Richer said in a statement. "I live a very lucky, wonderful life. But these defamatory statements have altered my life. For the worse. Materially."
Lake responded to the lawsuit online by claiming that she won her election while spreading debunked claims of wide-spread voter fraud.
"I'm exposing the massive corruption in our elections and this jackass is suing me. He wants to silence US," she tweeted, while linking to a website seeking donations.