Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer sues Kari Lake, her campaign for defamation

While Lake's team hasn't released an official statement, the former gubernatorial candidate sent out a tweet responding to the defamation lawsuit.
Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 5:00 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 22, 2023 at 10:15 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) Maricopa County’s top election official is taking legal action against former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake due to her reported lies about the 2022 election. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer filed a defamation lawsuit on Thursday against Lake, Lake For Arizona, and Save Arizona Fund, Inc., a corporation that fundraises for Lake.

According to the 104-page lawsuit filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, Richer is going after Lake for two central claims about the 2022 election in Maricopa County.

“Ballot Size Sabotage”

Richer claims Lake repeatedly spread lies, saying he had intentionally printed 19-inch images on 20-inch ballots so the electronic tabulators would jam all day. In his second claim, Richer says Lake believed that due to the tabulators being jammed, he (Richer) had inserted 300,000 illegal early-vote ballots into the system to change the election outcome. The lawsuit alleges that Lake spread these lies at rallies, speeches, podcasts, and social media.

Lawyers for Richer say that Lake’s campaign and the fundraising corporation supported the untrue statements to raise money.

According to the lawsuit, recorder Stephen Richer is going after Kari Lake for two central claims about the 2022 election in Maricopa County.

“Knowing and Malicious Falsehoods”

Lawyers claim in the lawsuit that Richer and his family have been targeted with continued death threats and in-person confrontations stemming from the falsehoods spread by Lake and her campaign. The claim goes on to say that Richer and his wife have spent thousands of dollars to increase their home security along with increased patrols by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and Phoenix Police. Richer has publicly said multiple times that he is not responsible for Election Day operations. The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office is responsible for much work leading up to Election Day, such as registering voters and maintaining voter files. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is responsible for Election Day and any in-person voting during the weekend before Election Day.

False Claim Examples

Richer’s legal team included dozens of pages containing copies of tweets and mailers from Lake and her campaign to spread the false claims. The lawsuit makes three claims for defamation regarding the ballot size sabotage accusation and two claims of defamation for the illegal ballot injection accusation.

Richer is asking for normal and compensatory damages, punitive damages, plus the cost of his legal fees. Richer is also asking the court to order that all of the statements regarding ballot size and illegal ballot injection allegations be removed from websites and social media accounts.

Arizona’s Family has reached out to Kari Lake, her campaign, and fundraising organizations for any comment regarding the litigation. After not hearing anything from her for hours, Lake sent out a tweet responding to the lawsuit.

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