Right-wing firebrand Kari Lake is still claiming to be the duly elected governor of Arizona in exile. Her case went to trial Wednesday, where she’ll need to argue her most extreme election denial conspiracy theories under oath. And while Lake may only be governor in her imagination, her persecution complex is still costing Arizona taxpayers real money.
While Lake may only be governor in her imagination, her persecution complex is still costing Arizona taxpayers real money.
Lake lost to her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, by over 17,000 votes in 2022, but she accused Arizona election officials of fraud just one day later, before the official count had even been completed. Then came Lake’s sprawling, 10-point lawsuit, with legal briefs filled with fire-and-brimstone outrage and allegations of political persecution, but light on actual facts. Arizona Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson found Lake’s claims to be nonsense.
The Arizona Supreme Court agreed, saying Lake’s arguments lacked any legal merit. Critically, that decision also referred a single point of Lake’s case back to the lower courts for trial: the claim that Maricopa County election officials failed to properly verify signatures on mail-in ballots. That means Lake’s legally-challenged legal team has one last chance to harass election workers before closing the book on 2022.
Most Arizonans believe the 2022 election was fair, including a majority of Arizona Republicans. Ask MAGA Republicans about Lake, though, and you’ll hear a version of events divorced from both political and legal reality.
Former Donald Trump enforcer Steve Bannon confidently declared that Lake actually won the governor’s office in 2022. Trump chimed in too, with the claim that Democrats “took the election away from Kari Lake.” Right-wing podcaster Joe Oltmann, a Colorado resident, drove to Maricopa County to demand election officials hold a statewide “revote.”
Appeals court rules against Kari Lake in challenge of election resultsFeb. 17, 202308:15
Like all good myths, the story of Lake’s victimhood varies a bit depending on the motives of the people doing the telling. But there is one consistent element: In all tellings, Democrats allowed tens of thousands of false ballots to be counted as genuine in Maricopa County. Late last year, Lake told a crowd she’d like to see Maricopa’s election officials imprisoned for what she imagines is their role in her loss.
Meanwhile, Arizonans are footing the bill as Kari Lake turns their court system into her latest performance art venue. Lake has already been ordered to pay over $30,000 in court fees related to her lawsuit against Hobbs, but taxpayers forked out over $141,000 to fight a different single meritless case Lake filed against Maricopa County. For this one, the court was also on the hook for processing over 7,000 pages of “evidence” Lake’s attorneys provided, none of which actually implicated Maricopa County.
Lake has turned filing frivolous election fraud claims into a full-time job. Unlike Arizonans, she’s also profiting handsomely from her bogus outrage; in just shy of two months after her loss, Lake raised $2.5 million from MAGA die-hards with big promises to beat Democrats in the courts. Then she headlined an election denial speaking tour through Iowa, prompting former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis to criticized Lake for “just fundraising at this point (ie grifting).” Now it appears Lake is hoping to turn some of that cash toward a possible U.S. Senate campaign next year.
Like all good myths, the story of Lake’s victimhood varies a bit depending on the motives of the people doing the telling.
That isn’t sitting well with Lake’s likely Democratic challenger, Rep. Ruben Gallego. “Kari Lake is a shameless grifter who’s raised millions of dollars by spreading lies about the 2022 election, while making Arizona taxpayers foot the bill for one frivolous court case after another,” a spokesperson for Gallego’s campaign told me. “Arizona voters rejected election deniers like Lake in 2022, and they’ll do it again in 2024 if she runs.”
In their rush to see Democrats in every shadowy corner, Lake and her allies forget something critical: Arizona’s polling place woes are a direct result of the state’s Republican-led effort to tighten voting restrictions after Trump’s 2020 loss.
In 2021, Arizona’s GOP-majority Legislature and then-Gov. Doug Ducey passed SB 1485, a bill they argued would reduce the risk of election fraud by striking invalid names from early voting lists. That move led to confusion and errors in the early voting process, resulting in more voters showing up in person on Election Day. The snarled lines and overwhelmed poll workers we saw in Maricopa County are absolutely real — but they have nothing to do with Democrats.
Kari Lake understands politics on a Trumpian level. She knows the Republican base will forgive any sin and pay any price as long as someone, anyone, is owning the libs. Lake’s knack for perpetual victimhood has made her a Trump-world celebrity and reportedly a potential vice presidential candidate. That she’s spent much of 2023 picking her constituents’ pockets with bogus lawsuits doesn’t even warrant a shrug from the Truth Social set.
Lake’s trial is almost certain to end just as poorly as all her other election denial efforts. That won’t stop her from spinning the outcome as yet another victimization of the MAGA masses by the deep state, or the left, or whichever bogeyman the far right is concerned about today. Kari Lake doesn’t need a lawsuit to understand last year’s loss. A mirror will do.