About a week after Election Day 2022, Arizona’s highly competitive gubernatorial race was called for Democrat Katie Hobbs. In the wake of her defeat, Republican conspiracy theorist Kari Lake accepted the results with grace and dignity, putting democracy’s interests above her own.
No, I’m just kidding. What Lake actually did was file some misguided lawsuits, tell the public that she secretly won the race she lost, and declare herself the state’s “duly elected governor,” election results be damned. In fact, on several occasions, the failed GOP candidate has even suggested — in classic Trump-like fashion — that she might yet be elevated to the governor’s office once the 2022 results are reversed. (This, of course, will not happen.)
But that’s not all Lake did in the aftermath of her loss. The former candidate also made a lot of fundraising appeals, and as The Arizona Republic’s Laurie Roberts noted this week, pointing to data compiled by The Arizona Mirror, Lake’s requests for money were a wild success.
Ever wonder why Lake won’t concede? Or at least storm off on some new adventure, now that hardly anybody in Arizona (other than the conspiracy crowd) is paying attention? Ka-ching. Turns out election denial is a lucrative business.
How lucrative? Between Nov. 9 — the day after the election — and Dec. 31, Lake raised $2.5 million, which was an amazing haul for a candidate who’d just lost. The Republican’s single best day for fundraising was the day Hobbs was declared the governor-elect.
Roberts added, “There are big bucks to be made by undermining Arizona and its elections. Facts don’t matter. Just continue to invent new and ever more hair-raising ways in which the election was supposedly stolen [and] then stand back and watch the money roll in.”
For those concerned about political grifts, all of this is discouraging, but it’s also familiar.
In the months following the 2020 elections, Arizona Republicans pushed a similar series of discredited conspiracy theories and tied those lies to fundraising appeals. As partisans eyed assorted recount schemes, the results were awful for democracy, but great for GOP coffers: The Arizona Republic reported at the time, “The Arizona Republican Party, along with other Trump-leaning groups, has used the state Senate’s ongoing ballot review as a way to raise funds for their causes and candidates. The fundraising has helped revitalize the Arizona GOP financially.”
Donald Trump, of course, has been a pioneer in separating those who believed his election lies from their money. In the aftermath of his 2020 defeat, the Republican raised millions of dollars from supporters who made the mistake of trusting the former president.
As we’ve discussed, this created a perverse set of incentives: The moment Trump stopped lying would be the moment donors stopped sending him money, which not surprisingly encouraged the Republican to keep the con going.
It’s a lesson Lake appears to have learned quite well.