Kari Lake pushes back at drag queen with demand to ‘cease and desist’

Opponents have been running ads pointing to Lake’s false claims.

By Stacey Barchenger |Arizona Republic

Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake — and her campaign lawyer — are trying to silence a drag queen whose social media posts labeling Lake a hypocrite have gone viral.

Richard Stevens, who performs as Barbra Seville and is one of the Phoenix area’s best-known drag queens, received the “cease and desist” letter while headed on stage at a family friendly drag brunch on Saturday.

The three-page letter demands that Stevens stop making certain claims about Lake, whom he once considered a friend, and delete a June 17 post that has turned into a national news story.

It also confirms that, about eight years ago, Lake and her family attended a party where Stevens showed up dressed as Marilyn Monroe. Lake’s campaign has said Stevens was an “impersonator,” drawing a distinction between that and a drag show.

Stevens said he performed at the event. Neither side has denied Lake’s young daughter was there, as Stevens said.

Stevens’ lawyer, Tom Ryan of Chandler, responded on Monday affirming Stevens would not cease nor desist.

“I cannot imagine your client will be happy to revisit all the time she spent with Barbra Seville when I depose Ms. Lake,” Ryan wrote. Ryan is known locally for his colorful letters on behalf of clients who are public figures or being attacked by them.

“Now Kari is a bully, and the reservoir of good will she had built up over the years as a cherished news anchor, well, that’s been drained to the point where we might as well just refer to her now as Kari Puddles,” his letter reads. 

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