Kari Lake lawyers hit with bar complaints over "orchestrated effort" to "disrupt" election

Lake's lawyers may face suspension or disbarment for illegitimate election fraud claims

Published February 16, 2023 3:05PM (EST)

Kari Lake (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kari Lake (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A legal group is planning to file bar complaints against four lawyers representing failed Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in her baseless voter fraud litigation. 

A federal judge already sanctioned Lake's lawyers in December, but new complaints from The 65 Project, a group targeting attorneys who advance illegitimate election fraud claims in court, means they could face suspensions or even disbarment.

The 65 Project told NBC News that they are filing bar complaints in Minnesota and Maryland against Lake attorneys Jesse Kibort, Joseph Pull and Andrew Parker, who are licensed to practice law in Minnesota, and Kurt Olsen, who is licensed in Maryland. 

The lawyers represented Lake and Mark Finchem, a failed Republican candidate for Arizona's secretary of state, in April. They challenged the use of electronic voting machines, claiming that the devices were untrustworthy.

"This was [a] pre-planned, orchestrated effort to disrupt Arizona's election even before it began and claim that there was fraud," Michael Teter, the managing director of The 65 Project, told NBC.

The bipartisan nonprofit organization has filed dozens of complaints against attorneys in the past year alone, including Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who is also listed as an attorney in the Lake suit.

Teter told NBC that he hopes their complaints will result in the suspension or disbarment of Lake's attorneys, preventing future dubious election fraud litigation. 

"We saw hundreds of election deniers across the country run and lose, and yet very few of them were bringing lawsuits in the aftermath of their losses," he told the outlet. "I think that's partly attributable to our efforts in 2020."

Lake in December shared that it was difficult to find representation for her case.

"We had attorneys who did walk away because the left is threatening them with their ability to make a living and practice law," she said. "And some of our attorneys said, 'Look, I got mouths to feed, I can't do this case, I don't want to be sanctioned.' I got to a point where I said, 'I'll take anybody. We'll take 'Better Call Saul' to come in here.'"

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The complaints against Lake's lawyers come after Arizona's top election official asked the attorney general to investigate Lake for potential campaign violations involving the disclosure of voter signatures.

A tweet from the candidate on Jan. 23 included an image containing 16 voter signatures. According to a letter penned by Secretary of State Adrian Fontes obtained by The Washington Post, the tweet violated a state law involving public inspection of voter registration records. 

The law states that records containing voter signatures "shall not be accessible or reproduced by any person other than the voter," and Fontes wrote that violation of the law is a felony. 

Superior Court Judge of Maricopa County Peter Thompson also ordered Lake to pay $33,000 in fees to cover the cost of expert witnesses hired by her Democratic opponent, Gov. Katie Hobbs.

However, legal troubles and PR disasters haven't stopped Lake from announcing that she is considering running for office once again: this time for U.S. Senate in Arizona in 2024.

Lake has also recently scheduled campaign-style events in Iowa, the state where Republicans will nominate their next presidential candidate.

"Here's your headline: Kari Lake is on the warpath," Lake said in an interview with the New York Times earlier this month.

In the interview, Lake also attacked Senator Kyrsten Sinema — who recently became an independent after leaving the Democratic party in December — and Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat who is also running for the Senate seat. She called both politicians "radical leftists," and said Sinema is "the furthest thing from an independent."

"Someone somewhere said she did a couple of courageous things, well, she should do courageous stuff here every day," Lake said of Sinema. "If you are blessed to be elected by the people, when you show up in Washington, D.C., you should be doing courageous acts every damn day."

Lake attacked Gallego, calling him a socialist and referencing complaints by his former staff member, Ne'Lexia Galloway, who criticized him for not doing more to "speak up about the injustices" to people of color in his district in Phoenix. 

Other high-profile Arizona Republicans have stated that they are considering Senate campaigns, including sheriff of Pinal County Mark Lamb, businessman Jim Lamon, former GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters, and Karrin Taylor Robson, who previously lost her gubernatorial primary bid against Lake.

By Samaa Khullar

Samaa Khullar is a former news fellow at Salon with a background in Middle Eastern history and politics. She is a graduate of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism institute and is pursuing investigative reporting.

MORE FROM Samaa Khullar

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