Not only did the attorneys for Kari Lake and Mark Finchem lose a federal case surrounding their accusations of election fraud, but Judge John Tuchi said the entire suit was based on “conjectural allegations” and was nothing more than a “frivolous complaint.” And then he hit their attorneys with sanctions.
Both candidates – Lake for governor and Finchem for secretary of state – have been pushing for the elections they lost to be challenged and overturned, pedaling unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about election fraud, including the false allegations – often also spouted by Donald Trump – that Arizona’s elections do not employ paper ballots and that the machines are connected to the internet, even though both accusations have been repeatedly debunked.
The dismissed suit dates back to April, when attorneys for Lake and Finchem filed against two AZ counties – Maricopa and Pima – to try to prevent them from using electronic machines, even though, as the judge noted in his opinion, they had to know that their allegations about the counties not using paper were false since evidence submitted by the defendants showed that “Plaintiffs themselves have voted on paper ballots for nearly twenty years.”
The supervisors in Maricopa were the ones who requested the sanctions.
Stoked by the wasting of the court’s time and the threat such actions pose to our republic, Tuchi informed the attorneys – which include former Harvard Law professor and Trump defender Alan Dershowitz – that they would be sanctioned and forced to pay the costs of the opposing side since the case had no merit and was only intended to disrupt the democratic process.
The court accused the plaintiffs and their attorneys of “furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process.” The purpose of the sanctions, Tuchi said, “is to send a message to those who might file similarly baseless suits in the future.”
Dershowitz, for his part, said in a statement to AZCentral.com that he has never challenged the results of any Arizona election, but merely “provided legal advice about the future use of vote counting machines by companies that refuse to disclose the inner workings of their machines.”
👀👀👀 A district court judge issued sanctions today against the attorney who represented Mark Finchem & Kari Lake in their lawsuit claiming voting machines were insecure and inaccurate.
Read ruling here: https://t.co/NhoWLTaHQe
And here's the county's response pic.twitter.com/mQENyX3XEv
— Jen Fifield (@JenAFifield) December 2, 2022
While Lake and Finchem were not individually sanctioned, Tuchi made clear that this does not absolve them from culpability, stating that “the Court does not find that Plaintiffs have acted appropriately in this matter.”
Essentially, the court concluded that although Lake and Finchem had made baseless claims that disrupted the voting process and contributed to an atmosphere of distrust, their lawyers – who signed the complaint – should have known better.
It will likely take a month or more for the final tally of the sanctions, as Maricopa County has to tabulate the total costs of defending against the lawsuit.
Get more news about GOP liars, election deniers, and frauds by following Ross on Twitter: @RossRosenfeld