Election Deniers Sanctioned in All Three Arizona Election Contests From 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday Aug. 23, the Arizona Supreme Court sanctioned the petitioners — including election denier Abe Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee (RNC) —  for their conduct in an election contest challenging the results of the 2022 election for Arizona attorney general. This order is the latest in a handful of actions that holds lawyers and parties who attempted to overturn valid election results accountable.    

During the 2022 midterm elections, Arizona was a troubling core of attempted election subversion where election deniers ran for key posts. In addition, conspiracy theories ran wild, a Republican-led county refused to certify election results until ordered by a court, armed vigilantes policed drop boxes and Republicans repeatedly sued to overturn the results of the election. Ultimately, Arizona voters overwhelmingly rejected anti-democracy candidates in favor of Democrats for governor, secretary of state and attorney general. 

Months after Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) and Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) have taken office, election deniers Kari Lake and Abe Hamadeh are still challenging the results of the 2022 elections. Secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem only recently voluntarily dismissed his contest

Despite this chaos, voters should seek comfort in the fact that the democratic system works: there was a peaceful transfer of power and courts have consistently rebuffed Republicans’ outlandish election contests. The judicial system is working in an additional and quieter way too; by issuing sanctions, courts are holding the candidates and attorneys who recklessly brought these challenges and spread conspiracy theories accountable.  

On May 4, 2023, the Arizona Supreme Court sanctioned Lake and her attorney after finding that they repeated false assertions in court filings. In the order, the court held that “Because Lake’s attorney has made false factual statements to the Court, we conclude that the extraordinary remedy of a sanction []is appropriate.” 

Election officials targeted in Finchem’s election contest also requested sanctions for Finchem and his attorney arguing that they “brought this action without any justification, to harass the Defendants, undermine our democratic processes, and delay the peaceful transition of power after an otherwise valid and lawful election.” Later in May, Finchem and his attorney were sanctioned.  

This was not the first time Lake and Finchem were called out for their conduct in the courtroom. In December 2022, Lake and Finchem were previously sanctioned for their actions in a federal lawsuit brought before the 2022 elections challenging the use of electronic voting machines in Arizona. The court found that the plaintiffs “made false, misleading, and unsupported factual assertions.” 

In the most recent string of sanctions against these Arizona election deniers, the Arizona Supreme Court sanctioned Hamadeh and the RNC last Wednesday for misrepresenting facts to the court. Hamadeh’s legal team attempted to fast-track his appeal by seeking relief in the Arizona Supreme Court, but in doing so they misrepresented facts to the court. As a result, the state’s high court sanctioned the petitioners because they were aware that they could not yet seek relief from the court and “misrepresented to this Court that they had sought such relief when they had not done so.”

At first glance it may seem odd that litigation is still ongoing almost a full year after the 2022 election. Recent orders sanctioning parties for their less-than-professional conduct is a good sign that election deniers and the attorneys who enable them are slowly but surely being held accountable. 

Read the most recent order granting sanctions here.

Learn more about the Arizona 2022 election contests here.