Arizona secretary of state hits Kari Lake with criminal referral to state attorney general

Top election official says Lake violated law by exposing voter signatures in a tweet

By Areeba Shah

Staff Writer

Published January 31, 2023 12:27PM (EST)

Kari Lake (OLIVIER TOURON/AFP via Getty Images)
Kari Lake (OLIVIER TOURON/AFP via Getty Images)

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes on Monday asked Attorney General Kris Mayes to investigate failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake for posting photos of voters' signatures on Twitter.

Fontes said in a letter that posting unauthorized photos of voters' signatures could be in violation of state law that prohibits "records containing a voter's signature" from being "accessible or reproduced by any person other than the voter."

He claimed that Lake broke the law by posting pictures of 16 voter signatures on her Twitter and could face a felony charge.

Lake tweeted side-by-side photos comparing signatures, alleging that nearly 40,000 ballots were counted with signatures that didn't match up. 

"I think all the 'Election Deniers' out there deserve an apology," her tweet said.

Since losing her candidacy to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs by over 17,000 votes, Lake and her allies have repeatedly echoed unproven claims of voter fraud. 

She even filed a civil case last month against Hobbs and Maricopa County election officials in the county's superior court. Her lawsuit, which was dismissed in court last month, claimed that she lost due to printing issues with voting machines in Maricopa County, which disenfranchised voters

But Judge Peter Thompson, who oversaw the case, ruled that Lake's legal team did not provide clear evidence of election workers intentionally interrupting the vote. Lake was ordered by the judge to pay $33,040 to Hobbs for witness fees.

As the lawsuit awaits a ruling from the Arizona Court of Appeals, Lake has continued to double down on her claims of widespread voter fraud and even asked the Republican National Committee to pay for some of her legal bills as she fights the results of her election loss.

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Lake and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell sat down with Steve Bannon on his War Room podcast on Friday expressing disappointment in Ronna McDaniel's reelection as RNC chair and discussed their ideas regarding election integrity.

"I heard that they [RNC] raised a couple hundred million for election integrity," Lake said. "We are asking the RNC to help us pay for some of our legal bills. We haven't had them do that yet. They've said they would help a little bit. We are hoping that they actually do that. The people are interested in election integrity, they know that our country is gone. It's over, it's caput if we don't have honest elections."

The former gubernatorial candidate has yet to concede her election loss. 

While Lake did not directly address Fontes' letter to Mayes on her personal Twitter account, her campaign, Kari Lake War Room, tweeted Monday night, "Adrian Fontes wants Kris Mayes to investigate & potentially imprison @KariLake for the 'crime' of ... sharing signature verification evidence that was presented before the @AZSenateGOP & is currently in her lawsuit."

Fontes has faced his own election-challenging lawsuit from former GOP opponent Mark Finchem, which was dismissed in December after Maricopa County Judge Melissa Julian ruled that nothing Finchem presented "constitutes 'misconduct' sufficient to survive dismissal.'"

Arizona Republicans lost nearly every major statewide midterm race after campaigning for months on false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

By Areeba Shah

Areeba Shah is a staff writer at Salon covering news and politics. Previously, she was a research associate at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a reporting fellow for the Pulitzer Center, where she covered how COVID-19 impacted migrant farmworkers in the Midwest.

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