Hobbs and Fontes call for sanctions, accuses Lake of continually changing arguments

Gov. Katie Hobbs and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes want the Arizona Supreme Court to sanction Kari Lake for peddling “frivolous conspiracy theories” in Arizona courts, while Lake keeps asking the court to reconsider her arguments that it has already dismissed. 

“In the months since the election, Kari Lake has baselessly and relentlessly contested her loss and sought to overturn the will of Arizona’s voters and sow distrust in our election processes and officials,” Hobbs’ lawyers wrote in a motion requesting sanctions. 

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Lake, a Republican who lost the 2022 race for governor to Hobbs, a Democrat, by more than 17,000, is a Trump-endorsed election denier who continues to tell her followers that she is the true governor of Arizona. 

Lake has repeatedly asserted, without evidence, that she lost because of intentional malfeasance from election officials in Maricopa County who didn’t follow proper procedures and sought to ensure she wouldn’t win. 

“We’re living in a banana republic called Arizona right now, with people who have taken control of our government that were not elected to take those roles,” Lake told former Trump advisor Steve Bannon on his podcast on Thursday. “And I’m talking about people like Adrian Fontes, obviously Katie Hobbs, and Kris Mayes in the AG’s office. They have stolen our government from We, The People.”

A trial court in December and an appellate court in February both shot down all of Lake’s claims, ruling they were either improper to bring before the court in an election challenge or that they were not backed by the facts. The Arizona Supreme Court in March dismissed all of Lake’s claims except for one, regarding signature verification processes, which it sent back to the trial court for review, saying that the lower court had improperly dismissed it. 

Lake and her attorneys, Scottsdale divorce attorney Bryan Blehm and D.C. corporate employment lawyer Kurt Olsen, asked the Supreme Court in a filing last week not to sanction them and requested that the court reconsider one of Lake’s claims that it already dismissed, regarding alleged chain-of-custody issues for early ballots in Maricopa County. Even though motions for reconsideration are not allowed at this stage in a case, Lake doubled down on Thursday, filing another motion asking the court to reconsider. 

Lake told the court it should reinstate her chain-of-custody claim and remand it back to the trial court, as it did with her signature verification claim that the Supreme Court found was improperly dismissed by the trial court. 

But Hobbs’ lawyers pointed out that Lake has continually changed the numbers and arguments in her chain-of-custody claim, as the case has moved through the trial, appellate and high courts. 

Ahead of the two-day trial in Maricopa County Superior Court in December, Lake wrote in one filing that there was “no way to know if 50 or 50,000 extra ballots were inserted at the Runbeck facility.” (Runbeck Election Services is Maricopa County’s election contractor, which scans and sorts early ballots at its facility.) 

Then in her appeal, Lake said that 25,000 or more legal ballots were inserted with the legal ballots at Runbeck. In its response, the appeals court called Lake’s mathematics to back up that number “questionable.” 

After that appeal was shot down, Lake told the Supreme Court it was an “undisputed fact” that 35,563 ballots that were previously unaccounted for were mixed in with legal ballots at Runbeck. In its response, the court found that the “record does not reflect that 35,563 unaccounted ballots were added to the total count.”

Lake based her number on the difference between how many ballots were recorded coming into Runbeck on Election Night and how many left the facility to be tabulated. 

But the initial number was an estimate, and the final number was an exact count, Hobbs pointed out in her filing. 

Lake argued that, because the defendants in her suit, including Hobbs, Fontes and Maricopa County, had said they would know if any illegal ballots were added at Runbeck, then either their numbers must be precise, or the defendants were being untruthful. 

But the county has other ways to tell if a ballot is valid, the most important of which are individual barcodes that are each tied to a registered voter, to ensure that no registered voter casts more than one ballot. 

Both Hobbs and Fontes asked that Lake be sanctioned in the form of paying for their attorney’s fees. 

“Because Lake’s claim of election tampering has no justification, let alone ‘substantial justification,’ and her continued pursuit of this argument—now including a procedurally improper request for reconsideration of her petition— ‘unreasonably expands or delays the proceeding,’ an award of attorneys’ fees is mandatory,” Hobbs wrote in her filing.

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