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Judge says defamation lawsuit against Kari Lake over election official allegations can proceed

"This is about taking away our First Amendment rights and interfering in the US Senate race," Lake said.

Published: December 26, 2023 8:22am

Updated: December 26, 2023 8:41am

A defamation lawsuit can proceed against former Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Senate candidate Kari Lake, according to a Maricopa County judge's ruling. 

Lake did not provide enough evidence to have the defamation case filed by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer outright dismissed under Arizona law, Judge Jay Adleman ruled last week.

"The court is satisfied that the disputed statements – if indeed they are 'provable' as false or defamatory – would be undeserving of the protections associated with our First Amendment principles," he wrote. 

Richer, who is also a Republican, alleged that Lake and her allies falsely claimed that he was responsible for intentionally printing incorrect ballots and that he inserted 300,000 illegal ballots into the Maricopa County 2022 election. 

"This is about taking away our First Amendment rights and interfering in the US Senate race," Lake wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after the ruling. "This case should have been tossed out of court."

Richer said that he and his family received death threats following Lake's claims and he has spent thousands of dollars installing additional home security features as a result, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.

"Working as a public servant should not lead to death threats, harassment or defamation," Richer also said. "No one is above the rule of law in this country."

Democrat Katie Hobbs officially won the 2022 gubernatorial election by just over 17,000 votes. Meanwhile, a poll last month showed that Lake is leading Arizona's GOP Senate primary race. 

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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