‘Furthering false narratives’: Lake, Finchem lawsuit draws sanction order from judge

Kari Lake, left, and Mark Finchem won GOP nominations. [Campaign photo] || Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia’Furthering false narratives’: Lake, Finchem lawsuit draws sanction order from judge

By Ray Stern || Arizona Republic

Mark Finchem, Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state, and Kari Lake, Republican gubernatorial candidate.

In a blistering 30-page opinion, a federal judge ordered sanctions against the attorneys of Kari Lake and Mark Finchem in their lawsuit against voting machines, hoping to deter “similarly baseless suits in the future.”

Lake and Finchem, Trump-endorsed Republicans who failed in their bids for governor and secretary of state, filed suit in April in an attempt to block Maricopa and Pima counties from using any electronic device to cast or count votes. They asked the court to order the counties to require paper ballots and conduct a hand count of all the ballots cast.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi dismissed the suit in August, calling it full of “conjectural allegations of potential injuries.”

Before the dismissal, the five members of the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors — the defendants in the case — had asked for sanctions for the “numerous false allegations about Arizona elections” the candidates and their attorneys made in their federal complaint.

In his order granting sanctions on Thursday, Tuchi delivered strong punches to the arguments that Lake, Finchem and their attorneys put forth in what he deemed a “frivolous complaint.”

While the plaintiffs sought “massive, perhaps unprecedented federal judicial intervention” to change Arizona’s election system before the recent election, “they never had a factual basis or legal theory that came anywhere close to meeting that burden,” the judge wrote.

He added later in the 30-page order that he would “not condone litigants … furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process.”

Bill Gates, county Board of Supervisors chair, said in a statement the sanctions were a “win for the rule of law” and that they will serve as a consequence for those who file baseless and meritless lawsuits.

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