Kari Lake seeks to forfeit her defense in defamation case

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Attorneys for Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake moved to forfeit a defamation case against her on Tuesday, choosing not to contest the allegations that she defamed a state election worker after the 2022 election.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R) sued Lake last year in his personal capacity, claiming Lake defamed him after she refused to concede her 2022 Arizona gubernatorial defeat and alleged election fraud.

The lawsuit claims that Lake consistently and systemically lied about Richer’s actions as recorder, causing him to receive harassment and numerous threats to his life. Richer added that Lake claimed without evidence that he stuffed ballot boxes with 300,000 invalid votes and used his role as recorder to make the ballot unclear for voters.

“For the last seven months, I have been subjected to constant harassment, intimidation, and threats to my and my family’s lives because the defendants in this case were spreading falsehoods about me, my work, and our elections,” Richer said in a statement when the lawsuit was filed last year.

The court filing Tuesday does not contest Richer’s claims, and requests an accelerated hearing to determine damages. 

Richer held up the filing as an admission of guilt.

“Won’t defend / can’t defend,” he wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “I’ll get my due. But not the millions of people she lied to.” 

“Not the thousands of people who donated ‘to continue the fight.’ Not the people who have gone to jail because they so strongly believed Kari’s lies,” he continued. “Those people won’t get their due.”

However, Lake brushed off the filing as a rejection to participate in what she described as a “political witch hunt” and a “frivolous” lawsuit, refusing to admit culpability.

“Washington, D.C. operates on blackmail and bribes. Since they can’t blackmail or bribe me, they’ve resorted to filing a punishing lawsuit to try to stop me and bleed me dry,” she said in a video message. “They’re threatening to take everything I own. What they don’t realize is even if they leave me, my husband and children homeless and penniless, that won’t stop us.”

“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,” she continued. “So I won’t be taking part.”

Lake is challenging Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) for the seat of the retiring Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.). Gallego slightly leads Lake in early polls, though the race is a seen as a key battleground for both parties in the fight to control the Senate.

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