Protect Democracy, on behalf of Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Kari Lake, her campaign, and the Save Arizona Fund nonprofit, alleging “harmful falsities to further their own agenda–and line their own pockets–at Richer’s expense.”
The First Amendment gives Americans the right to criticize the government and government officials. Not only is this an unconstitutional assault on free speech, but it’s totally baseless.
The lawsuit claims that Kari Lake used her social media platforms, interviews, and public speeches to defame Richer by criticizing Maricopa County’s handling of the 2022 election by implicating him in the machine and printer failures on election day and early ballots with no chain of custody.
“Since the November 2022 election, Defendants have repeatedly and falsely accused Richer of causing Lake’s electoral defeat, including by claiming that Richer–a registered Republican– sabotaged the election to prevent Republican candidates, including Lake, from winning,” states the filing.
However, Richer, who oversaw early voting, founded and operated the Pro-Democracy Republicans PAC, a dark money PAC aimed at eliminating candidates with a MAGA agenda.
Maricopa County Chairman Bill Gates, who oversaw the Election Day operations, openly rooted against Trump-Endorsed candidates, calling their primary election wins a “catastrophe” and saying, “I think they are electable, which is frightening.”
Together, they both starred in an ad by Never-Trump groups to discredit auditors of Maricopa County’s 2020 election and attack supporters of the audit and Trump-Endorsed Republican candidates.
Protect Democracy lawyers are now asking the Court, on behalf of Stephen Richer, for nominal damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees, cost of suit, retraction of “false and defamatory statements,” and a jury trial.
These leftist goons are so desperate that they claim “Lake has likened Richer to an arsonist.” In the tweet referenced, Kari Lake says “Getting tips from Stephen Richer about elections integrity is like getting fire safety tips from an arsonist.” She has never said Richer is an arsonist or is like an arsonist.
Getting tips from Stephen Richer about elections integrity is like getting fire safety tips from an arsonist.
The only thing he should do to reform our elections is resign immediately and apologize to every man, woman & child in Arizona for his malicious incompetence & perjury.
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) January 13, 2023
Richer tweeted about the lawsuit on Thursday:
I'm suing Kari Lake.
I'd hoped the defamation would stop after the election. I waited.
I'd hoped it would stop after the first election trial. I waited.
I'd hoped it would stop after the appeal. I waited.
I'd hoped it would stop after the second trial. I waited.
— Stephen Richer—Maricopa Cnty Recorder (prsnl acct) (@stephen_richer) June 22, 2023
The lawsuit is fully backed by Protect Democracy, a far-left Soros-tied nonprofit that worked tirelessly and petitioned the DOJ to shut down the Arizona 2020 election audit.
“Protect Democracy and its partners filed a defamation suit in Superior Court in Phoenix on behalf of Stephen Richer, the elected Recorder of Maricopa County, against former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, her campaign, and an organization that she founded after the 2022 election,” reads the update on their website.
Lake has repeatedly claimed that Maricopa County Recorder Richer—a registered Republican—sabotaged the 2022 election so that Republicans would not be elected. She continues to defame our client despite a complete lack of evidence for her claims.
— Protect Democracy (@protctdemocracy) June 22, 2023
And unfortunately, Richer’s story is not unique. Election workers around the country have been targeted with threats and harassment as a result of election-related disinformation.
— Protect Democracy (@protctdemocracy) June 22, 2023
Kari Lake responded hilariously, calling Richer a “jackass” who reminds her of serial liar Adam Schiff. “Trump won in a landslide & so did I. Everyone knows it,” she added.
I’m exposing the massive corruption in our elections and this jackass is suing me.
He wants to silence US.
Trump won in a landslide & so did I.
Everyone knows it.
Corrupt elections have saddled us with disasters like Biden and hobbs.
The majority of Americans KNOW our… pic.twitter.com/MLwkm89MRh
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) June 23, 2023
David Becker, the far-left operative who founded the Soros-funded ERIC system, also chimed in, praising Richer for his lawsuit.
@stephen_richer is one of the most professional, ethical, and innovative election officials in the nation, and to his credit, he has had enough of the lies about his work and our elections. https://t.co/42xM2aKDvP
— David Becker (@beckerdavidj) June 23, 2023
Many on Twitter noted that we might see some interesting findings concerning election fraud in the discovery phase of Richer’s attack on political speech.
According to the Washington Post, “Public officials generally face a steep challenge in trying to prove defamation cases. But Richer and an attorney representing him from Protect Democracy, which describes itself as a ‘nonpartisan, anti-authoritarianism group,’ said reams of public information show a disregard for the truth and, in their view, malice.”
Former Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem, State Sen. Anthony Kern, and Congressman Paul Gosar were forced to pay $75,000 in attorney’s fees after losing a similar lawsuit last year. Finchem, Kern, and Gosar sued former State Rep. Charlene Fernandez, accusing her of defamation after she “co-authored, signed, and published a false and misleading Criminal Referral Letter to the Acting Attorney General of the United States,” claiming the legislators “through words and conduct, aided and abetted sedition, treason or any other federal crimes.” However, the Judge ruled that Fernandez’s conduct was protected by the first amendment, and the lawsuit was “filed against a political opponent primarily for purposes of harassment.”
Richer, who announced his 2024 reelection campaign last week, appears to be simply targeting his political opponents. This is also likely meant to distract the public from Kari Lake’s ongoing election lawsuit and slow her down in the fight for justice. Lake has said that she will appeal her lawsuit all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Richer writes for the Arizona Republic, one of Arizona’s most far-left papers,
For the last seven months, a high-profile former statewide candidate for office — from my own political party — has spread falsehoods about our elections and about me specifically.
Rather than accept political defeat, rather than get a new job, she has sought to undermine confidence in our elections and has mobilized millions of her followers against me.
Her defamatory allegations have unleashed violent vitriol and other dire consequences.
She has gone far outside of the bounds of protected free speech as guaranteed under the First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution.
That’s why I’m suing Kari Lake, her campaign and her political action committee for engaging in a concerted campaign to defame, threaten and isolate me.
Richer went on to write, “I firmly believe in the protections we’re all afforded under the First Amendment, which is something so unique and beautiful about being an American.” This is ironic because he colluded with CISA to silence The Gateway Pundit on Twitter and seemingly influence the 2022 election. Katie Hobbs also worked with Twitter to silence her critics before her election.
However, the criticism he faces is not new to Kari Lake’s rhetoric or election lawsuit. For years now, since Richer took office, he has faced strong criticism from the MAGA base he previously appealed to in order to get elected.
While on the campaign trail, he constantly highlighted his opponent Adrian Fontes’s plans to steal elections using early ballots, partisan voter registration drives, and Fontes’ decision to implement emergency voting centers in the 2018 midterm. “The Recorder’s Office hasn’t followed the law,” Richer said in at least one interview, and he often referred to Fontes as an “incompetent criminal.” Is this considered defamation?
Richer is further seen in the video below, telling his supporters in 2020, “We haven’t had transparency, we haven’t had competency, we haven’t even had lawfulness, we haven’t had fairness in the Recorder’s Office and in our election system.”
"We haven't had transparency, we haven't had competency, we haven't even had lawfulness, we haven't had fairness in the recorders office and in our election system." – Stephen Richer 2020 running for County Recorder
Video by Sean Campbell pic.twitter.com/aKLza9jW00
— Sean Campbell (@scampbellfilms) December 28, 2022
The Gateway Pundit reported in July 2021 that Richer was already under fire for turning on his constituents and opposing the Arizona Senate’s audit of the 2020 election.
As The Gateway Pundit later reported in an exclusive story, former Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri confirmed on tape that Stephen Richer believes the elections in Maricopa County are fraudulent and that Dominion voting machines played a role. “You should have a conversation with Stephen Richer because he’ll verify everything I’m telling you. He’s already, and he’s only been in office five days!” said Chucri as he detailed their concerns with Dominion software, which was used in 2020 and 2022. Chucri also recalled a phone call with Richer in early 2021 where he Chucri said, “You know we can’t use [Dominion],” and Richer responded, “Oh my God, I would totally support you on that.”
Additionally, last year, the Maricopa County Republican Committee formally censured Richer, calling on him to “immediately resign or be recalled.”
Richer was already facing critique, insults, and what he would now call defamation for his behavior in the wake of the 2020 election. The botched 2022 election was just the cherry on top.
Washington Post also reported yesterday, “Richer said he now rarely attends political functions held by grass-roots GOP activists, many of whom remain convinced of malfeasance.” As if this is something new.
Read the full complaint below:
The Gateway Pundit will provide updates on this bogus lawsuit by a far-left nonprofit.