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Republican Mark Finchem, who lost his race in November for secretary of state, was hit with sanctions over what a judge said were “bad faith” arguments to overturn his election loss.
Maricopa County Judge Melissa Iyer Julian argued evidence presented in Finchem’s own filings was enough for her to determine that his claims were not made in “good faith.”
“Attached to Finchem’s Amended Statement was his own expert’s analysis of the alleged failure to count so-called ‘black box votes,'” wrote Judge Julian. “Finchem’s expert report identified 80,000 potentially ‘missing votes.’ Yet, Finchem lost the election he challenged by 120,208 votes. That margin was so significant that even if it were assumed that 80,000 votes were missing and that those votes would all have been cast in his favor, the result of the election would not have changed.”
The judge concluded by awarding “reasonable attorneys’ fees” that were incurred by Arizona Democrat Gov. Katie Hobbs and Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, who fought against Finchem’s efforts, MSN reported.
Mark Finchem ordered to pay sanctions in 'groundless' election challenge following November loss https://t.co/klZ4UPR6OQ
— azcentral (@azcentral) March 6, 2023
In a separate case, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to expedite a hearing regarding a lawsuit filed by 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake alleging that election improprieties cost her a victory.
Last month, Lake filed a “Motion To Expedite” the case, arguing that “expeditious action to resolve these issues is needed to safeguard Arizona voters’ right to free and equal elections.”
She argued that the Maricopa County Superior Court and Arizona Court of appeals disregarded the evidence, “ignored this Court’s precedents for reviewing election contests and ratified Maricopa officials’ decision to ignore Arizona’s ballot chain-of-custody (“COC”) and logic and accuracy testing (“L&A testing”) requirements set forth in Arizona’s Election Procedures Manual (“EPM”), and A.R.S. §§16-621(E), 16-449, 16-452(C).”
“The court of appeals’ Opinion denying petitioner Kari Lake’s appeal ruled that Arizona election laws don’t matter,” the filing stated.
The state’s highest court issued its ruling on Thursday, setting a March 21 date to consider whether to accept Lake’s new petition. The court ordered the defendants to issue responses by March 13.
Last month, the appeals court ruled that voters were able to cast their ballots and votes were counted properly in Arizona during November’s midterm elections.
“Lake argues that the superior court erred by dismissing her claims asserting equal protection and due process violations. Her arguments fail, however, because these claims were expressly premised on an allegation of official misconduct in the form of interference with on-site tabulators — the same alleged misconduct as in Lake’s printer/tabulator claim,” the ruling stated, upholding Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ victory.
“Because these claims were duplicative of a claim that Lake unsuccessfully pursued at trial, the superior court did not err by dismissing them. For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the superior court’s ruling confirming Hobbs’s election as governor. We deny Hobbs’s request for an award of attorney’s fees on appeal because she offered no substantive basis for the award,” the appeals court noted further.
“Evidence ultimately supports the conclusion that voters were able to cast their ballots, that votes were counted correctly, and that no other basis justifies the election results,” it said.
Last month, Lake said she’s “entertaining” a possible U.S. Senate run.
During an interview with Charlie Kirk on his Real America’s Voice show, Lake hinted that she could run for the Senate in the 2024 election if she doesn’t get a “decent ruling” in her lawsuit for the Arizona gubernatorial election.
When Kirk asked if she was “entertaining” a Senate run, Lake replied: “Yes I am entertaining it. I mean my number one priority is our court case, and I have full confidence in our court case and I hope we will get a judge to do the right thing. But I’m also looking at what happens if we don’t get a decent ruling in that, and they want me to go away, they want our movement to go away. I represent we the people, and if they want us gone so badly that they’re willing to steal an election then I’m not going to let them have that, I won’t go away.”
She would be running for a seat currently held by Sen. Krysten Sinema (I-Ariz.) who left her party months ago and is now a self-declared Independent, though she still caucuses with Democrats in the chamber.
A recent poll showed that the firebrand Republican would defeat Sinema and Democrat challenger Ruben Gallego.