Lawyers for failed candidates Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, who ran for governor and secretary of state of Arizona, respectively, will have to fork over some cash thanks to a judge’s ruling stemming from a baseless lawsuit the candidates filed in April.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Tuchi sanctioned the lawyers over Lake and Finchem’s lawsuit seeking to ban the use of voting machines in last month’s election, ruling that the suit spread lies about Arizona’s election system being vulnerable to fraud. The ruling will require the candidates’ attorneys to pay legal fees incurred by Maricopa County, one of the defendants in the lawsuit.
In the ruling, Tuchi noted that although the lawsuit wrongly claimed that Arizona had switched to a computerized system susceptible to fraud, Arizona still uses paper ballots and merely uses machines to count the votes.
“Plaintiffs claimed that Arizona’s audit regime is insufficient to negate these vulnerabilities and that the only way to overcome the security issues they identify is ‘for the Court to Order, an election conducted by paper ballot, as an alternative to the current framework,’” Tuchi wrote.
But, the judge added, “it cannot be disputed that Arizona already requires and uses paper ballots. Allegations to the contrary are simply false.”
Tuchi’s ruling reads like an elementary civics worksheet, going to pains to reiterate that Arizona’s elections already use a paper ballot-based system, contrary to Lake and Finchem’s claims and their demands that Arizona implement such a system.
The judge added that the lawsuit falsely claimed that Arizona’s electronic voting systems aren’t evaluated by objective experts.
He concluded that the attorneys — who were not named in the ruling — acted “recklessly” and in “bad faith.”
“Plaintiffs never put forth sufficient allegations about Arizona’s election systems — let alone sufficient evidence to support any such allegations — to demonstrate a likelihood that Arizonans’ votes would be incorrectly counted in the 2022 midterm election due to manipulation,” Tuchi wrote.
The judge made clear that sanctioning the attorneys didn’t clear Lake and Finchem themselves from acting inappropriately — “far from it,” he wrote. (On Twitter, Finchem and Lake both predictably attributed the ruling to a judge appointed by Barack Obama.)
“To sanction Plaintiffs’ counsel here is not to let Plaintiffs off the hook,” the judge wrote. “It is to penalize specific attorney conduct with the broader goal of deterring similarly baseless filings initiated by anyone, whether an attorney or not.”
Lake, Finchem and a host of other Arizona election losers backed by former President Donald Trump have been casting doubt over Arizona’s electoral process for months, and increasingly so in the wake of their losses. Earlier this week, I wrote about how this is all a grift for right-wing figures to line their pockets and raise their profiles at other people’s expense.
The fact that Lake and Finchem’s lawyers have been ordered to foot the bill for their clients’ ridiculous election lawsuit only bolsters that theory.