The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Top Arizona election official seeks campaign-violation probe of Kari Lake

Kari Lake, then the Republican nominee for Arizona governor, speaks to supporters at an election night watch party Nov. 8 in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)
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PHOENIX — Arizona’s top election official has asked the attorney general to investigate Kari Lake, the Republican candidate who lost her bid for governor in 2022, over potential campaign violations involving the disclosure of voter signatures.

The complaint could set up a legal showdown in the battleground state between a prominent conservative election denier backed by Donald Trump and two newly elected Democrats who campaigned with messages of strengthening public trust in elections.

The referral from Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) to Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) comes as Lake has doubled down on her unproven claims that administration of the state’s midterm elections resulted in her loss. The Washington Post has obtained a copy of the referral.

A Lake aide did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As part of the former gubernatorial candidate’s grievances, a Jan. 23 tweet from Lake’s account claimed 40,000 ballots didn’t match voter signatures that Arizona had on record. The tweet included a graphic containing images of 16 voter signatures.

“I think all the ‘Election Deniers’ out there deserve an apology,” the tweet said.

In his letter, Fontes pointed to state law involving public inspection of voter registration records. That law says records containing voter signatures “shall not be accessible or reproduced by any person other than the voter.”

Violation of that law, he wrote, is a felony.

A spokesperson for Mayes confirmed the office received the referral and declined to comment.

Just a few months ago, Arizona Republicans lost nearly every major statewide midterm race after campaigning for months on false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. That was not always a winning strategy in Arizona or in many other states, but many Republican leaders and their supporters here are still clinging to election-fraud falsehoods, refusing to acknowledge that their candidates lost and resisting attempts to lessen the extreme divisions in the state.

At a “Save Arizona Rally” in Scottsdale on Sunday, Lake spoke to a throng of supporters as she vowed to hold public officials accountable for what she called a “botched” election. She called Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) a “squatter in the governor’s office.” Hobbs beat Lake by more than 17,000 votes.