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Election integrity advocates sanctioned by courts as Trump identifies as 'election denier'

"Bar complaints have been filed all over the country by people Trump lawyers have never met, had no client relationship with, and who are totally partisan against Trump," said former Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis.

Moscow court is acting in secrecy in trial of American, U.S. Ambassador says
Moscow court is acting in secrecy in trial of American, U.S. Ambassador says
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Published: March 10, 2023 5:41pm

Updated: March 27, 2023 12:46pm

Even as former President Trump accepts the "election denier" label and says more than half the country falls into the same category, proponents of election integrity are being sanctioned and censured because of lawsuits or public statements they have made regarding election concerns. 

"I'm an election denier, and so are, substantially, I would say substantially more than 50% of this country," Trump said Thursday in a media roundtable to discuss his upcoming book "Letters to Trump." 

Trump made the comment after former GOP Arizona Secretary of State nominee Mark Finchem was sanctioned by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Melissa Iyer Julian following his 2022 election lawsuit against then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and current Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Finchem's Democratic opponent in the secretary of state race.

Finchem's lawsuit requested the election results in his race be set aside and ballots be inspected to determine which votes were legal before determining the winner. Julian dismissed Finchem's lawsuit in December. 

In a March 1st ruling released Monday, Judge Julian sanctioned Finchem over his lawsuit, finding it "was groundless and not brought in good faith." None of Finchem's allegations "even if true, would have changed the vote count enough to overcome the 120,000 votes he needed to affect the result of this election," the judge wrote.

Finchem was ordered to pay the attorneys' fees incurred by Hobbs and Fontes. 

"This award is designed to quash any and all dissent where elections are in question," Finchem wrote in a statement on Twitter

"Judge Julian is punishing me for daring to assert my 1st Amendment protections, which constitutionally guarantee separation of powers, and has shredded statutory protection for contestants to challenge suspicious election results," Finchem wrote. 

This is the third time that a sanction was issued in a lawsuit related to Finchem, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, under whom the office's Election Integrity Unit was launched, is facing 16 bar complaints, one of which was filed by Hobbs. Fontes has also called for Brnovich's disbarment. 

Hobbs alleged in her complaint that Brnovich committed "likely unethical conduct," citing reports by current Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes and The Washington Post that he had buried investigative findings purportedly showing there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud affecting the outcome of the 2020 election. 

"Katie Hobbs is wrong," Brnovich told the Washington Examiner last month in a statement. "This is another misguided attempt by her to defame and cancel a political opponent instead of addressing the serious issues facing our state."

In Colorado, former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis was publicly censured on Wednesday by the state Supreme Court's Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, which investigates allegations of professional misconduct against attorneys in the state. 

"Ms. Ellis agreed that she violated Colo. RPC 8.4(c), which prohibits reckless, knowing, or intentional misrepresentations by attorneys," the OARC said in a public statement. "She violated this rule when, as counsel to then President Trump and the Trump campaign, she made a number of public statements about the November 2020 presidential election that were false."

Ellis was censure​​​​d for​​​ 10 public statements she made in the aftermath of the 2020 election, including:

  • "Hillary Clinton still has not conceded the 2016 election." 
  • "The election was stolen and Trump won by a landslide." 
  • "We have over 500,000 votes [in Arizona] that were cast illegally ..."

Ellis responded to the censure and reporting on it in a statement on Twitter Thursday. "The politically-motivated Left failed miserably in their attempt to destroy me," she wrote. "They're now trying to falsely discredit me by saying I admitted I lied. That is FALSE. I would NEVER lie. Lying requires INTENTIONALLY making a false statement.

"I never did that, nor did I stipulate to or admit that.


"As has become sadly typical, the opposition-controlled media is intentionally twisting the truth, conflating the full RPC standard with the actual stipulation. The standard reads, 'dishonesty, fraud, deceit, OR misrepresentation.'

"The Colorado bar counsel and my counsel concluded that it was best to resolve the bar complaints by agreeing to a public censure."

In May 2022, Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit States United Democracy Center asked Jessica Yates, an attorney for the OARC, to investigate Ellis for allegedly violating professional rules, Colorado Newsline reported

"Bar complaints have been filed all over the country by people Trump lawyers have never met, had no client relationship with, and who are totally partisan against Trump," Ellis continued in her statement. "This is and always was political lawfare to intimidate lawyers from representing Trump or Republicans candidates, especially in election challenges and try to destroy our livelihood and reputation. Organizations filing complaints have been open about this motivation."

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