Saturday, May 25, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: Maricopa Co. Official Addresses Victory in Kari Lake Defamation Suit

'I am a proud Republican. I support free markets, limited government, law enforcement, rule of law, family values, deregulation, and a strong America...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) Stephen Richer, the Maricopa County election official who was vilified by many of his own party members following allegations of irregularities in Arizona’s 2022 election, was ready to clear his good name after winning a defamation lawsuit Wednesday against former GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

In an exclusive email to Headline USA, Richer—an elected Republican—dispelled the longstanding allegations that he had overseen a political-action committee funded by Democrats and working to undermine Lake’s campaign while also serving as the county election recorder.

“I have no connection to any PAC that did anything opposing Kari Lake or supporting any of her opponents,” he wrote.

The statement appeared to contradict earlier reports, such as a 2021 interview with the Arizona Mirror, in which Richer proudly boasted of his affiliation with the Pro-Democracy Republicans of Arizona.

According to a press release cited by that article, the PAC’s purpose was to “acknowledge the validity of the 2020 election and condemn the events of January 6, 2021 as a terrible result of the lies told about the November election.”

Richer is also listed as a payee on the PAC’s 2022 campaign finance report and is listed as its top overall contributor for the 2024 election cycle.

The group’s top contributor for the 2022 election cycle, Francis Najafi, gave $20,000 to Richer’s PAC, as well as $85,000 to ActBlue Arizona and another $85,000 to the Arizona Democratic Party. He also gave $5,300 to Lake’s Democratic rival in the gubernatorial election, then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

Lake, who is currently running for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring incumbent Kyrsten Sinema, opted not to defend herself in Richer’s lawsuit, instead pleading “no contest” to her culpability while expressing her intent to do legal battle over the damages, NBC News reported.

In a post on LinkedIn, Richer took a victory lap and expressed his hope for a hefty judgment in his favor.

“It was all a lie,” he wrote. “She was lying about me. But she was lying to you.”

Lake, however, still plans to challenge the notion that Richer suffered material damages or harm as the result of the imputations against his character, including a demand for the disclosure of any medical or psychiatric records showing he sought treatment in the aftermath of the media feeding frenzy.

The lawsuit contends that “Richer and his family have been the target of threats of violence, and even death, and have had their lives turned upside down” due to Lake’s “knowing and malicious falsehoods.”

It specifically mentions Lake’s false allegations that Richer intentionally misprinted ballots on Election Day, “so that the tabulators would jam all day long.”

The resulting chaos, which happened disproportionately in Republican-heavy districts, led to long lines and many voters attempting to vote at districts other than their assigned ones.

Consequently, many of the ballots wound up as provisional ballots, leading to extreme tabulation delays and questions about the chain of custody.

Hobbs, the top Democrat official responsible for overseeing elections at the state level, narrowly prevailed over Lake after the final tallies were released, with Maricopa’s numbers giving the George-Soros-backed Hobbs the edge.

In addition to Richer, Board of Supervisors Chair Jack Sellers (no relation to the author) and other elected Republicans on the board were accused of being RINO plants who had colluded with Hobbs to secure the outcome in her favor.

In his email to Headline USA, Richer said the GOP’s gravitation toward a Trumpist anti-establishmentism and distrust of bureaucracy had not shaken his own party loyalty and core belief in conservative principles.

“I am a proud Republican,” he said. “I support free markets, limited government, law enforcement, rule of law, family values, deregulation, and a strong America.”

Headline USA reached out to Lake’s campaign and will update with any response.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.

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