Arizona judge rejects Katie Hobbs’ request to sanction Kari Lake

An Arizona judge on Tuesday denied Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs’ request to sanction defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake for her failed attempt to overturn the state election results.

Lake had filed a lawsuit alleging voter fraud and challenging the recount and certification of the November race in an attempt to be declared the winner despite a lack of evidence. The lawsuit was thrown out of Maricopa County Superior Court on Saturday.

On Monday, Hobbs and the Maricopa County assistant attorney asked the court to sanction Lake and his attorneys, alleging that Lake had filed a “baseless” lawsuit for “frivolous pursuit.”

Katie Hobbs in Phoenix on October 18.Ross D. Franklin / AP File

Sanctions generally take the form of a financial penalty imposed by a judge for violation of a court rule or misconduct. Hobbs had asked the court to award him more than $600,000 to offset the fees and expenses accrued in defending against Lake’s lawsuit.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson said in Tuesday’s ruling that Lake’s claims in the lawsuit were not unfounded.

“The fact that the plaintiff (Lake) failed to meet the burden of clear and convincing evidence…does not amount to finding that her claims were or were not unfounded and brought in bad faith,” Thomson wrote in the ruling.

The lawsuit was directed at Hobbs, who is currently Arizona’s secretary of state and will become governor next week, along with top Maricopa County officials. Lake’s lawsuit claimed that “hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots infected elections” in Maricopa, the state’s most populous county.

Lake, a former television news anchor, was one of the highest-profile Republican candidates in the midterm elections to come to terms with former Republican President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in 2020.

He lost the gubernatorial race to Hobbs, but refused to relent, continuing to make unconfirmed claims about election irregularities on his Twitter account.

Lake was one of the more prominent Trump-aligned Republican candidates who lost battleground state races in the midterm elections.