Cochise County certifies election results as attorneys for Kari Lake and Mark Finchem are sanctioned

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An Arizona judge Thursday ordered the board of directors of a ruby ​​county in the southeast corner of the state to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election.

“You will meet today,” Supreme Court Justice Casey F. McGinley told the three members of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. “You go to the elections at 5 o’clock at the latest.”

When the board met at 3:30 p.m., with one Republican absent, the two remaining regulators, one Republican and one Democrat, voted to certify the results.

The surrender, ordered by the court, ended a stalemate in Cochise County that threatened to disrupt the state’s process to confirm the will of more than 2.5 million voters in Arizona. The ensuing chaos could have undermined the Republicans’ expected victories for a seat in the U.S. House and the statewide race for superintendent of schools.

Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state and governor-elect, moved aggressively to prevent that scenario. Her office sued the Cochise County board on Monday after members voted 2-1 to ignore a deadline for all counties to certify the results in a process known as election recruiting. State certification is scheduled for December 5.

The denouement in Cochise County came as a federal judge, also on Thursday, sanctioned attorneys for Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, the failed GOP candidates for governor and secretary of state, respectively. Taken together, the orders show how judges are contemptuous of attempts to politicize ministerial functions and undermine the electoral administration.

Federal Judge John Tuchi of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona wrote that sanctions would “make it clear that the court will not condone litigants … promote false narratives that unfoundedly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about and distrust in the democratic process.”

Lake and Finchem sued Maricopa County earlier this year in an effort to demand hand counting of votes in that county, home to Phoenix, as well as Pima County, home to Tucson. Tuchi dismissed their lawsuit in August, finding that Lake and Finchem had made vague and unsubstantiated allegations about voting machine flaws. They filed an appeal the following month.

In his new ruling on Thursday, the judge ruled that sanctions in the case were appropriate “to send a message to those who may face similar baseless lawsuits in the future.”

Tuchi, who was nominated in federal court by President Barack Obama in 2013, reasoned that the payment of attorneys’ fees for Maricopa County was an appropriate sanction, since the county and its attorneys should “dedicate time and resources to defending this frivolous lawsuit in instead of preparing for the election that has caused unfounded controversy with plaintiffs’ allegations.”

Attorneys for Lake and Finchem were not named in the judge’s order, which directed Maricopa County to report their attorneys’ fees within 14 days. Among the attorneys listed in court filings by the candidates was Alan Dershowitz, the former Harvard Law School professor who previously advised former President Donald Trump.

Lake, Finchem, Dershowitz and other attorneys involved in the case did not respond to requests for comment.

The case was largely funded by Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, who has promoted debunked claims of voter fraud. Lindell told The Washington Post on Thursday night that he had not yet spoken to lawyers about the sanctions, noting that they had appealed Tuchi’s dismissal of the underlying case. He said the sanctions were unjustified. “They had more experts and more evidence than any case in history,” he said. “It’s disgusting what judges do, even those.”

The judge only approved lawyers for the candidates, not the candidates themselves, though he stressed that “the Court does not find that the plaintiffs acted correctly in this case – far from it.”

“Approving plaintiffs’ counsel does not mean plaintiffs go unpunished,” he added. “It is to penalize specific behavior by attorneys with the broader goal of deterring similar baseless filings made by anyone, whether an attorney or not.”

Lake, who has not given up her race, was at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida on Thursday when the Arizona order came in, according to a person familiar with her activities who spoke on condition of anonymity to prevent non-public events. discuss. She was said to make remarks there and pick up an award at an event hosted by Moms for America, which says it is a “national movement of mothers to reclaim our culture for truth, family, freedom and the Constitution.”

Tuchi’s order interrupted an already dramatic day in Arizona where post-election fighting has put a spotlight on Cochise County. The provincial supervisors appeared in court on Thursday without legal representation, having only been provided with a lawyer that afternoon.

County Attorney Brian McIntyre declined to represent the regulators in this case, having previously advised them that their action was illegal. They then tried to retain Bryan Blehm, the attorney who represented cybersecurity firm Cyber ​​Ninjas in its haphazard audit of the 2020 Arizona election, but he declined to take the case.

Tom Crosby, one of two regulators behind the move to delay the certification, asked the judge to postpone the proceedings until next week so that the attorney found by the board, Daniel McCauley, could be notified on the House. The judge declined, saying that continuing the proceedings was “not in the interests of justice”. McCauley did not respond to a request for comment.

The judge appeared to be considering simply instructing regulators to approve the investigation at a meeting already scheduled for Friday, asking a lawyer from the secretary of state’s office whether an additional one-day raid would protect state officials responsible for the investigation. performing certification next week. The attorney, Andy Gaona, responded that a Friday approval would be acceptable if certain conditions are met.

But a passionate argument for ordering the board to act that afternoon came from the only Democratic member, Ann English. She disagreed with Monday’s vote to postpone the ministerial move.

She warned the judge that Crosby intended to use Friday’s meeting as “a kind of smackdown between the secretary of state and the election deniers he has on the agenda.” Crosby has expressed concern about the equipment used in the election.

The judge, when ordering the board to meet on Thursday, said such concerns were “no reason to delay an investigation.” He found that state law “unambiguously requires” counties to certify results by Nov. 28, unless the voting table is incomplete.

Crosby did not appear when the board met later Thursday to comply with the judge’s order. He said in an email that he was not present “on the advice of the council lawyer”, but did not respond to other questions. The other Republican, Peggy Judd, said, “I’m not ashamed of anything.”

She said she felt compelled to vote to approve the results “because of a court ruling and because of my own health and situations that arise in our lives.”

But, she added, “I don’t like being threatened.”

Behind the scenes, the secretary of state also issued blunt warnings to at least one other province about the consequences of refusing to certify, according to emails released via a public records request.

When officials in GOP-controlled Mohave County met Monday to receive certification, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Ron Gould, said: “I found out today that I have no choice but to vote yes or I will be I arrested and charged.” with a crime.”

Communications from state election officials make it clear what he meant.

Kori Lorick, the state election director, wrote in an email to the Board of Supervisors earlier that day: “Our office will take all legal action necessary to ensure that Arizona voters’ votes are counted, including referring the individual supervisors who do not vote to certify for criminal enforcement.”

Ruby Cramer contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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