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Cyber Ninjas lawyer, Trump attorney file election contest for Lake

Kari Lake, Arizona Republican candidate for governor, waves to the media as she walks into a voting precinct to vote with her family on Election Day in Phoenix, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In a wide-ranging lawsuit filed on Friday afternoon, attorneys for former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake asked a Maricopa County judge to throw out the results of her election loss. The election contest lawsuit asks the court to declare Lake the winner – or order a new election. 

The case makes a stunningly broad range of claims – from First Amendment free speech violations relating to social media; to Fourteenth Amendment equal protection violations; to claims that Arizona’s election processes are unconstitutional. 

“The number of illegal votes cast in Arizona’s general election on November 8, 2022, far exceeds the 17,117 vote margin between … Kari Lake and Democrat(ic) gubernatorial candidate Secretary of State Katie Hobbs … hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots infected the election in Maricopa County,” Lake’s lawyers wrote in the complaint. 

“This case is about restoring trust in the election process – a trust that Maricopa County election officials and Hobbs have shattered. The judicial system is now the only vehicle by which that trust can be restored,” the lawyers added. 

In at least one instance, the lawsuit even made allegations of wrongdoing in Arizona’s 2020 election – a claim that was at the heart of Lake’s gubernatorial campaign. 

“The invalid-signature ballot envelopes established in the Busch and Parikh declarations demonstrate that Maricopa County’s elections suffered from (an) outcome-determinative number of illegal votes in 2020 and 2022,” Lake’s attorneys wrote. 

“If the process was illegitimate then so are the results,” Lake wrote in a Tweet announcing the lawsuit. She had long teased the lawsuit and said last month that she had “assembled the best and brightest legal team.” 

The case was filed by Bryan Blehm, an Arizona attorney best known for representing the Cyber Ninjas in cases related to the partisan audit of Arizona’s 2020 election, and Kurt Olsen, a lawyer who has worked with former President Donald Trump and spoke to Trump on the phone multiple times on Jan. 6, 2021. 

They named Hobbs and Maricopa County officials as defendants. 

Notably absent from the case is Tim LaSota, a well-known Phoenix election attorney who has worked for Lake and brought a separate election contest on Friday on behalf of Republican Attorney General Candidate Abe Hamadeh – who lost his race by only 510 votes. LaSota also brought a public records case on Lake’s behalf seeking documents related to the election. 

Hamadeh’s case used more restrained language, with attorneys saying the result of his race should be reversed, but clarifying that they’re not “alleging any fraud, manipulation or other intentional wrongdoing.” 

In a statement posted to Twitter, Maricopa County officials responded to both election contests. 

“The court system is the proper place for campaigns challenging the results to make their case,” the county stated. “Maricopa County respects the election contest process and looks forward to sharing facts about the administration of the 2022 General Election and our work to ensure every legal voter had an opportunity to cast their ballot.” 

Tom Ryan, a Chandler civil rights attorney, called the Lake lawsuit a “nothing burger.” 

“There are so many other defects within these 70 pages of the complaint that there’s not time to list them all,” he said. 

“Most notably, the complaint alleges statewide voting fraud, but they’ve only named Maricopa County as a defendant. If you’re alleging statewide election challenges, you have to bring it in all of the counties, not just one,” he continued. 

Plus, Ryan said, the complaint is asking for relief that’s outside the scope of Arizona’s election laws, which specify the rules surrounding an election contest. 

“Allegations like violations of the First Amendment right of free speech do not constitute an election law challenge,” he said. 

That First Amendment claim, the first of 10 counts in the case, is connected Maricopa County officials’ participation in government programs aimed at removing false information from social media platforms. 

Lake’s attorneys also alleged three Fourteenth Amendment violations on the basis that a class of people, namely Republican voters, were disproportionately affected by Election Day equipment problems in Maricopa County. The issues did cause confusion and long lines, but the lawsuit didn’t include any evidence that anyone was unable to vote because of them – though the attorneys assert that voters were “disenfranchised.” 

The case made reference to several different witness declarations, but there were no declarations or any other evidentiary attachments to the complaint filed on Friday. In the days and weeks following the Nov. 8 election, Lake posted dozens of videos of voter complaints about Election Day problems, but those statements didn’t make it into the case. 

Another claim argues that mail-in ballots don’t meet federal and state ballot-secrecy requirements, and therefore: “All absentee ballots cast in the 2022 general election are illegal votes.” 

The claims about state statutes include arguments that ballot tabulators were improperly configured; non-matching signatures on mail-in ballots were improperly verified by election workers; and ballots were handled without properly preserving chain of custody. 

Among their other unorthodox moves, Lake’s attorneys cited a public opinion poll in their discussion of the case. 

The results of a Rasmussen Reports poll published late last month asked if voters agreed or disagreed with Lake’s claim that the election was “botched,” according to the complaint. 

“The results of that poll are stunning,” the attorneys wrote. “Seventy-two percent (72%) of likely voters said they agree with Lake’s statement, including 45% who strongly agree.” 

Ryan noted that Lake signed the complaint and he said that could open her up to legal sanctions. 

“She’s already been put on notice by federal Judge John Tuchi,” Ryan said, referring to the Tuchi’s decision to level sanctions against Lake’s attorneys – but not Lake herself – in another election-related case. 

“Although he can’t completely prove she (knew) that she was filing a frivolous complaint” in the other case, “her verification of this complaint removes her ability to deny that in front of a Superior Court judge,” he said. 

 

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