Home News Kari Lake declines to defend defamation suit by AZ official

Kari Lake declines to defend defamation suit by AZ official

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Kari Lake declines to defend defamation suit by AZ official

By Jonathan J. Cooper | Associated Press

PHOENIX — Kari Lake, a Republican Senate candidate in Arizona who says she lost a 2022 race for governor because of fraud, is declining to defend against a defamation lawsuit filed by a top election official.

Lake this week asked a judge to jump directly to the damages phase of the lawsuit filed by Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer. The extraordinarily rare request for a default judgment seeks to bypass the opportunity to argue her statements weren’t defamatory, skipping ahead to determine how much she owes Richer.

The court had already rejected her motion to dismiss the case, and the Arizona Supreme Court declined to take her appeal.

“After months of doubling down and defending their lies across Arizona, in the media, and on social media, when push came to shove, the defendants decided to completely back down and concede that their lies were just that: lies,” Richer said in a statement.

While declining to defend her statements in court, Lake maintains she was truthful and says she wants to avoid spending time and money on a protracted legal process. She questioned whether Richer can prove that he was harmed by her statements and demanded he release his medical and psychological records.

“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,” Lake said in a video posted to social media. “So I won’t be taking part.”

Lawyers for Richer last week asked the court to sanction Lake and the other defendants, arguing they were trying to waste time and delay discovery, the phase of a lawsuit where the parties turn over documents, text messages, emails and other relevant records.

There has been considerable speculation in Arizona and in Washington about whether discovery in the defamation case would unearth damaging or embarrassing communications that could affect Lake’s Senate campaign. Lake and her aides have secretly recorded conversations, including one where the former state GOP leader offered her a job if she’d stay out of the Senate race.

Richer told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he will still demand records from Lake to prove damages.

Lake is a former Phoenix television news anchor who quickly built an enthusiastic political following as a loyal supporter of former President Donald Trump and his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. She went on to narrowly lose her own race for Arizona governor last year along with a lawsuit challenging the results.

She is the second prominent Trump ally to give up the chance to defend against a defamation lawsuit after Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was found liable for defaming two Georgia election workers. A judge found Giuliani ignored his duty as a defendant to turn over information requested by the workers. A jury ultimately awarded the women $148 million.



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