Kari Lake asks Arizona court to toss Stephen Richer’s defamation lawsuit

Aug 22, 2023, 8:32 AM

File images of Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, left, and Kari Lake. Richer filed a defamat...

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, left, filed a defamation lawsuit against Kari Lake on June 22, 2023. Lake, the 2022 Republican nominee for Arizona governor, countered with a motion to dismiss on Aug. 21, 2023. (Getty Images File Photos)

(Getty Images File Photos)

PHOENIX — Kari Lake is asking the court to throw out Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s defamation lawsuit against her.

Attorneys for Lake, the losing 2022 Republican nominee for Arizona governor, filed a motion to dismiss Richer’s claim in Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday.

“The sole issue in this case is whether a political candidate should have a judgment entered against her for comments about a public official regarding an election, a matter of significant public concern,” the motion says.

Richer, also a Republican, filed his defamation suit June 22. He said it was an effort to stop Lake from repeating false and harmful statements.

Lake’s motion to dismiss accuses Richer of, as an elected “state actor,” attempting to restrict her First Amendment free speech rights.

“In 2022, the Legislature strengthened laws protecting the rights of citizens to speak freely on matters of public concern,” Jen Wright, an attorney for Lake, said in a press release.

“Richer’s lawsuit is precisely the kind of abuse of the legal system the law was designed to stop. I have every confidence the court will agree, and dismiss the lawsuit.”

Richer’s suit, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, names Lake, her campaign and her political fundraising group as defendants. It says Richer has faced death threats and spent thousands of dollars on home security.

In addition to unspecified monetary damages, Richer is seeking a court order declaring Lake’s statements false and requiring her to delete them from social media.

“This lawsuit is not about, ‘I’m ugly’ or ‘I’m terrible’ or ‘I’m the worst’ or something along those lines, which of course is First Amendment-protected,” Richer told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on June 27.

“This is about a number of specific statements that have accused me of doing, intentionally, a specific unlawful act that would be truly awful, that would cause me to abandon my oath of office, that would be a serious crime — that multiple courts have said is false.”

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Kari Lake asks Arizona court to toss Stephen Richer’s defamation lawsuit