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‘Enough Really Is Enough’: Arizona Governor-Elect Katie Hobbs Seeks More Than $500,000 in Sanctions for Kari Lake and Her Lawyers

Kari Lake via YouTube

Kari Lake (Screengrab via YouTube)

Arizona’s Governor-elect Katie Hobbs (D) asked a judge on Monday for more than half a million dollars in sanctions against her defeated rival Kari Lake (R) and her lawyers for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit aiming to overturn the results of the Grand Canyon State’s 2022 gubernatorial midterms.

“Courts are established by Arizona’s Constitution and statutes to resolve actual disputes between parties,” Maricopa County Deputy Attorney Thomas P. Liddy wrote in a 15-page memo. “They do not exist so that candidates for political office can attempt to make political statements and fundraise. And they should not be used to harass political opponents and sow completely unfounded doubts about the integrity of elections. All of those things happened in this matter.”

Hobbs’s legal team joined Maricopa County’s motion for sanctions, court records show.

“Enough really is enough. It is past time to end unfounded attacks on elections and unwarranted accusations against elections officials,” the memo states. “This matter was brought without any legitimate justification, let alone a substantial one.”

If a judge sanctions Lake’s legal team, it wouldn’t be for the first time.

On Dec. 1, 2022, a federal judge slammed Lake’s lawyers for “recklessly” filing a similar lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona over the election results. U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi, a Barack Obama appointee, found that the complaint had been filled with “false, misleading, and unsupported” claims. Her attorneys on that case included Andrew D. Parker, Jesse Hersch Kibort, and Joseph Alan Pull of the Minneapolis-based firm Parker Daniels Kibort LLC and Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Kurt B. Olsen.

Ex-Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz also was of counsel in that case, but he insisted that he held no view on the validity of his client’s voter fraud claims, advising solely on the underlying legal issues. That sanctions order, however, focused solely on the lawyers.

Maricopa County says that the client also deserves punishment.

“Instead of taking to heart the importance of bringing only claims that are justified by the law and facts, however, Plaintiff and her counsel doubled down with the present action,” the memo says. “This Court should sanction both lawyers and client under [Arizona law] to impart to them the seriousness of their misuse of the courts to seek to undermine Arizona elections and impugn hardworking elections workers and officials for purely political – not legal – purposes.”

As Dershowitz was not a counsel in the state action, Maricopa County’s lawyers seek sanctions here against Lake and the two lawyers on the Grand Canyon State action: Olsen and Brian Blehm.

On Christmas Eve, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson dismissed and skewered Lake’s lawsuit for offering only “speculation or conjecture” about voter fraud in a ruling, which refused to overturn her 17,117-vote defeat.

“A court setting such a margin aside, as far as the Court is able to determine, has never been done in the history of the United States,” Thompson wrote on Dec. 24, 2022. “This challenge also comes after a hotly contested gubernatorial race and an ongoing tumult over election procedures and legitimacy – a far less uncommon occurrence in this country.”

Before the dismissal order, Hobbs urged the judge not to let Lake’s “absurd” lawsuit stand “a minute longer than it takes to dismiss it.” Lake ran on amplifying former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and gave every indication that she intended to follow a similar path if she lost. Her lawsuit alleged that problems with printer and tabulator machines in Maricopa County, Arizona, depressed turnout with Republican voters.

But the judge found that Lake provided little evidence to back up her allegations.

“Every one of Plaintiff’s witnesses – and for that matter, Defendants’ witnesses as well – was asked about any personal knowledge of both intentional misconduct and intentional misconduct directed to impact the 2022 General Election,” Thompson wrote on Dec. 24. “Every single witness before the Court disclaimed any personal knowledge of such misconduct. The Court cannot accept speculation or conjecture in place of clear and convincing evidence.”

Thompson gave Hobbs until 8 a.m. Mountain Standard Time to file a motion for sanctions. Lake has until 5 p.m. MST to respond to it.

Made available on the court’s website later in the day, Hobbs filed a separate motion for sanctions seeking $550,210 in fees, the vast majority of which (at $457,032.50) would go to their attorneys at the Elias Law Group. The firm is founded by Democratic party lawyer Marc Elias, who assisted in defending against Trump’s 2020 post-election lawsuits. The governor-elect, who currently serves as Arizona Secretary of State, also wants Lake to pay $83,725.50 in definite fees and expenses.

Maricopa County is seeking a much smaller amount in attorneys’ fees: $25,050.

Read the memo seeking sanctions here.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."