A key GOP election official in Arizona is suing defeated gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake for defamation, arguing that her repeated false claims of malfeasance in the 2022 election have upended his life.
In the lawsuit, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer asserts that Lake, her campaign and an affiliated fundraising committee have spread “malicious falsehoods” that have made Richer and his family the targets of “threats of violence, and even death.”
Richer’s civil complaint represents an aggressive step by a fellow Republican to push back on Lake’s election claims, which have been rejected by the courts. Lake, a former local television anchor, has gained a loyal following among supporters of former President Donald Trump and is weighing a 2024 US Senate bid.
In his complaint, Richer zeroed in on Lake’s accusations – made at rallies and on podcasts and social media – that he intentionally caused printers in Maricopa County to jam on Election Day and inserted 300,000 bogus ballots into the vote count. An independent investigation found that older printers and longer ballots on heavier paper caused glitches at several precincts, but officials have said the problems did not prevent people from voting.
“This case is about a losing candidate for office refusing to accept the will of the voters and, instead, spreading malicious falsehoods to raise money and garner attention,” Richer wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Arizona Republic, explaining his decision to sue.
“Those falsehoods not only undermine confidence in our elections and our democracy, but they also cause harm to real people – like me,” he added.
Lake, who made denying Trump’s 2020 defeat a centerpiece of her campaign, lost the governor’s race in the battleground state last year to Democrat Katie Hobbs by a little more than 17,000 votes out of about 2.6 million cast. In May, a Maricopa County judge rejected the last of Lake’s remaining legal claims and affirmed Hobbs’ victory.
Lake is widely considered to be weighing a bid for the US Senate seat now held by Kyrsten Sinema, an independent who was first elected as a Democrat. Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego entered the race for the seat earlier this year.
A Lake spokesperson did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment Friday. On Twitter, Lake repeated her claim that she and Trump had won their respective elections and asked for donations to fight the lawsuit.