By Caden Pearson
Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has filed an appeal against a Maricopa County judge’s ruling to dismiss her lawsuit challenging the midterm election results.
Lake filed a notice of appeal with the same Arizona Superior Court judge on Tuesday to challenge the dismissal of her case. Lake will also seek a direct review by the Arizona Supreme Court, according to a court filing.
Arizona Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson first ruled against Lake’s election case on Dec. 24, confirming the election of Katie Hobbs as Arizona governor-elect. He ordered Hobbs’s side to file a statement of costs and motion for sanctions before Dec. 26.
On Dec. 27, Thompson found that there wasn’t enough evidence of misconduct by Maricopa County to overturn election results in the county. His ruling came days after Lake filed her lawsuit and after Thompson allowed two of 10 election claims to go to a short two-day trial.
According to election data, Lake lost to Hobbs by about 17,000 votes. Lake filed a lawsuit against Hobbs in her capacity as the current secretary of state, Maricopa County election officials, and other officials several weeks after the midterms.
“I am standing up for the people of this state, the people who were done wrong on Election Day, and the millions of people who live outside of Maricopa County, whose vote was watered down by this bogus election in Maricopa County,” Lake told Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast.
Judge Denies Request to Sanction Lake
On Dec. 27, Thompson denied a request from Hobbs and Maricopa County to sanction Lake and her legal team over her lawsuit challenging the results of the 2022 general election.
The judge ruled that while Lake didn’t meet the burden of providing evidence of her election-related claims, her lawsuit didn’t meet the standard for imposing sanctions. However, he ruled that Lake must reimburse Hobbs $33,040 for some expenses because she didn’t win her case.
Maricopa County officials filed the motion against Lake and her legal team on Dec. 26. Hobbs joined the motion in her capacity as secretary of state.
“Enough really is enough. It is past time to end unfounded attacks on elections and unwarranted accusations against elections officials,” Maricopa County Deputy Attorney Thomas P. Liddy wrote on Dec. 26 in a 15-page memo asking Thompson for the sanctions and attorneys fees. “This matter was brought without any legitimate justification, let alone a substantial one.”
Courts “should not be used to harass political opponents and sow completely unfounded doubts about the integrity of elections,” the memo also stated.
After Hobbs was declared the winner, Lake filed two lawsuits. One sought information and records from Maricopa County, and the other aimed to declare overturn the results or redo the election in Maricopa.
Among other claims, Lake cited a news conference held by top Maricopa County officials in which they confirmed printer problems across polling locations on Election Day that her team said disenfranchised voters.
Thompson allowed two out of ten of Lake’s claims to go to trial, including a claim about intentional interference with ballot printers and chain-of-custody problems.
A witness at the trial who inspected ballots on behalf of Lake’s attorneys said that 14 of 15 duplicate ballots he inspected had 19-inch images of the ballot printed on 20-inch paper, meaning the ballots wouldn’t be read by a tabulator. The witness testified that such a change would’ve required a change to printer configurations, although election officials disputed those assertions.
The judge credited Lake’s key witnesses, Mark Sonnenklar and Heather Honey, but rejected the claims that intentional misconduct happened during the midterm election.
Following the two-day trial, Lake insisted that malicious intent was proven by her witnesses.
“We provided expert testimony. We provided experts. The other side brought in activists to try to save face. They admitted that they’ve known about these ballot problems,” Lake said.
Hobbs’ lawyer, Abha Khanna, told the courtroom in Maricopa County that Lake’s attorneys haven’t established whether printer problems on Election Day were intentional acts that would have changed the race’s outcome had they not occurred. At the trial’s closing arguments on Dec. 22, Khanna said Lake’s claims were based on hearsay, speculation, and theatrics.
“What we got instead was just loose threads and gaping plot holes. We know now that her story was a work of fiction,” Khanna said.
Jack Phillips and Allen Zhong contributed to this report.