Kari Lake Won’t Fight Arizona Election Official’s Defamation Suit

Kari Lake is all but throwing in the towel against an Arizona election official who sued her for defamation, notifying a court on Tuesday she has no intention of defending her claims that he deliberately wrecked her gubernatorial campaign in 2src22.Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a 38-year-old Republican, filed his lawsuit last June. He said

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Kari Lake is all but throwing in the towel against an Arizona election official who sued her for defamation, notifying a court on Tuesday she has no intention of defending her claims that he deliberately wrecked her gubernatorial campaign in 2src22.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a 38-year-old Republican, filed his lawsuit last June. He said Lake had falsely accused him of “intentionally [printing] 19-inch images on 2src-inch ballots,” resulting in the counting of 3srcsrc,srcsrcsrc “illegal, invalid, phony or bogus” early ballots.

She also targeted him on social media, according to the complaint, assailing him as an “incompetent, corrupt fool” and a “reprehensible human being.”

In a statement last December, after a judge denied Lake’s bid to get his suit tossed, Richer said, “My family and I have faced endless and vile threats, including calls for our execution, and I’ve lost important personal relationships and seen my reputation severely damaged by the Defendants.” He added that he was looking forward to continuing his pursuit of justice.

On Tuesday, Lake, a Trump protégé currently running a campaign for Senate in Arizona, formally petitioned the court to hold a default judgment hearing, motioning to skip straight to the process of determining whether Richer is owed damages, and if so, how much.

Richer said in an interview with The Daily Beast that a request for a default judgment was “certainly not what we expected” from Lake, calling the highly unusual move “peculiar.”

“This might shock you, but I have no great insight into the mind of Kari Lake,” he remarked.

Still, Richer celebrated it as a victory. “For a person who both says she never surrenders, and who claims she has all the evidence at her disposal—I think it’s fairly telling,” he said.

In a tweet, Richer called Lake’s motion a “[c]omplete and total surrender on liability” for defamation. “Meaning it was always all B.S.,” he added.

A representative for Lake told The Daily Beast that she “maintains she has always been truthful.

“She will not play the lawfare game,” they continued. “Just like they went after President Trump, they’re now targeting Kari Lake.”

Lake compared herself to the former president again in a video statement addressing the matter on Tuesday evening, saying that “East Coast lawyers funded by special interests” intent on halting her campaign and bleeding her “dry” were behind the “frivolous” suit.

“It is a political witch hunt and everyone knows it,” she said, deploying one of Trump’s favorite terms. “By participating in this lawsuit, it would only serve to legitimize this perversion of our legal system, and allow bad actors to interfere in our upcoming election. So I won’t be taking part.”

Though Lake’s attorneys requested that the case be wrapped up “before the forthcoming primary and general elections,” what will happen next, and when, remains murky. Should a judge accept her request, the case will not entirely circumvent discovery, the process where both parties exchange information and evidence, though proceedings will likely be shorter than if a trial were to have occurred.

Richer, who is running for re-election as county recorder, doesn’t want the defamation claims to overshadow the fact that she isn’t fighting his claim that she lied to Arizonans.

“Like, no joke, people are going to go to jail for multiple years, because they believed her and decided to do something very irresponsible,” he said. “Call me, or someone else in the county, and say, ‘I’m going to kill you because you stole the 2src22 election.’ And like, those people are going to have to sit in jail, knowing that it was a lie.”

His remarks come one day after state and federal authorities held a news conference in Arizona on the rise in election-related threats across the nation. Officials said the U.S. Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force has brought about 18 cases so far, 13 of which have resulted in convictions. Prison terms handed down to the defendants have ranged from sentences of 18 months to three-and-a-half years.

Seven of the cases, according to authorities, have involved the targeting of Arizona officials. “We don’t really want to be a leader in this space,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Gary Restaino said. “But we are.”

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