by Steven Rosenfeld November 16, 2022
Trump Gang Scrambling to File Suit Denying Kari Lake’s Arizona Defeat
(Photo: Donald Trump and Kari Lake on the campaign trail.)
Diehard Trump Republicans inside and outside of Arizona who cannot fathom that Kari Lake is projected to lose Arizona’s 2022 governor’s race are frantically trying to assemble a lawsuit to block the certification of the victory by Katie Hobbs, a Democrat and Arizona’s current secretary of state.
“We need 3-5 Attorneys. Please call any you think might be interested and see if they are willing to support the cause without the retainers,” said the top item on a Tuesday email sent by the Gila County Election Integrity Team. “The suit will be prepared by experienced legal writers.”
“We need to reach and recruit voters or candidates in other counties to become plaintiffs and get them up to speed,” it continued. “Who can help? Please shake the trees.”
On Monday night, national media called the race for Hobbs, who won 50.4 percent—or 1,266,922 votes—compared to Lake’s 49.6 percent—1,247,428 votes. Those results, based on counting 98 percent of the votes, is bigger than the 0.5 percent margin in Arizona law that would trigger a recount.
“Arizonans know BS when they see it,” Lake tweeted on Monday evening.
Lake, a former Fox News broadcaster in Phoenix whose political rise was based on viewers’ familiarity with her and Lake’s mimicry of Trump’s stances, led by claims that his re-election bid was stolen, publicly had been criticizing the counting process in Maricopa County, its most populous county.
Officials in Maricopa County, which is run by non-Trump Republicans who spent much of 2021 fending off election conspiracy accusations, replied that Lake did not understand how elections are run and that her comments were offensive—given that hundreds of thousands of mailed-out ballots had been returned on Election Day and election workers had been putting in 18-hour days to count votes.
Before Monday’s media projection of her loss, Lake had been telling nationally known 2020 election deniers—such as True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht—that she planned to fight any outcome but a gubernatorial victory.
In her podcast last Friday, Engelbrecht said that she had spoken to Lake and was inspired by Lake’s determination to keep fighting—unlike other Trump-endorsed candidates in Arizona who had conceded.
“It’s one of the reasons we came to Arizona because Kari Lake is not quitting in the face of such uncertainty,” said Engelbrecht, who, with Gregg Phillips, a fellow conspiracy theorist at True the Vote, had been jailed for contempt of court on Halloween in an unrelated defamation case where they had accused an election vendor of giving China access to voter data.
“Tuesday’s election… didn’t go quite like many felt that it would,” Engelbrecht said. “But I submit to you it was sort of the same song, second verse. The things that go wrong on Election Day, and went wrong in 2020, went wrong in 2022. Like [voting] machines going out, not enough paper [ballots], bad chain of custody [of ballots], the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, elections taking far too long to resolve… what we want to avoid is becoming the new normal.”
Phillips said that he and Engelbrecht, whose voter fraud fabrications were featured in the misinformation-laced film about the 2020 presidential election by Dinesh D’Souza, “2000 Mules,” said the goal was stopping Maricopa County’s certification of the victories by Hobbs and other Democrats in top statewide races. (Phillips, Engelbrecht, and D’Souza have been sued for defamation for the film by voters who were falsely accused onscreen of illegally casting absentee ballots.)
“Our view of it is that you always have to stop the certification,” Phillips said. “Once the certification happens, pretty much the cat’s out of the bag; it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle, and everything goes wrong. But we have really learned some interesting things here because of this delay [in counting].”
Phillips said the county’s use of an Arizona-based ballot printing and election technology, Runbeck Election Services, to pre-process mailed-out ballots—to vet the authenticity of voters’ signatures on the ballot return envelopes—opened up several avenues to argue that Maricopa County did not follow state law.
“We can now define them inside certain large buckets,” he said. “Like chain of custody issues [transporting ballots securely, and] issues that they have in compliance with the law relative to signature verification.”
On Monday’s edition of the J.D. Rucker Show on Rumble, a pro-Trump online platform, New Jersey attorney Leo Donofrio outlined another line of legal attack. He focused on the response by Maricopa County to the intermittent breakdown of ballot printers in 30 percent of its 223 voting centers on Election Day.
Bill Gates, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chair, a Republican and lawyer, told voters that they could put their ballots in a secure box at the vote centers to be counted later, or they could go to another vote center.
That advice was no guarantee that these ballots had been counted, Donofrio said, and it put voters at risk for voting twice, which exposed them to criminal charges.
“There is no function [in voting systems] for a voter to check out of a polling location once they have checked in… That is a complete fiction,” he said. “It’s like [the 1977 song] Hotel California, J.D., ‘You can check in, but you can never leave.’”
The “Gila County Election Integrity Team” said they would be meeting on Wednesday and communicating via a group chat on Telegram, another social media site. It urged insiders to reach out to Andy Gould, a state appeals county judge, “to seek behind the scenes support,” and Mick McGuire, a retired general who ran unsuccessfully for the 2022 GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, to see “if he can help also with statewide supporters who would be plaintiffs, or perhaps he would, [as] he is high profile and well liked.”
Throughout the vote counting process and Lake’s attacks on election officials, Hobbs rejected the charges and urged Arizona to be patient.
“Despite what my election-denying opponent is trying to spin, the pattern and cadence of incoming votes are exactly what we expected,” Hobbs said on November 10. “In fact, they mirror what [political trends] our state has seen in recent elections. We must remain patient and let our election officials do their jobs.”