Arizona governor-elect asks court to sanction election denier Lake

FILE PHOTO: Democrat Katie Hobbs gives a victory speech after winning the race to become Arizona's next governor, in Phoenix
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(Reuters) -Arizona's Democratic Governor-elect Katie Hobbs asked a court on Monday to sanction defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake over her failed effort to overturn the state's election results.

An Arizona judge on Saturday rejected Lake's lawsuit that challenged the counting and certification of the November electoral contest in a bid to be declared the winner despite a lack of evidence of voter fraud.

Hobbs joined a motion by Maricopa County for sanctions on Lake and her attorneys in which the county's deputy attorney Thomas P. Liddy wrote Lake filed a "groundless" lawsuit for a "frivolous pursuit," court documents showed.

"Enough really is enough," Liddy wrote in the motion filed on Monday. "It is past time to end unfounded attacks on elections and unwarranted accusations against elections officials."

Maricopa County's motion had "no basis in law or fact," Lake's lawyers wrote in a response filed Monday evening, asking the court to deny the request for sanctions.

"Trust in the election process is not furthered by punishing those who bring legitimate claims as plaintiff did here," the court document filed by Lake's lawyers said. "In fact, sanctioning plaintiff would have the opposite effect."

The sanctions would be in the form of a financial penalty imposed by a judge for violation of a court rule or misconduct.

Lake's lawsuit had targeted Hobbs, who is currently Arizona's secretary of state and becomes governor next week, along with top officials in Maricopa County. Her suit claimed "hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots infected the election" in Maricopa, the state's most populous county.

In a separate court filing, Hobbs also asked the Superior Court in Maricopa County to award her over $600,000 to compensate for fees and expenses accrued in defending against Lake's lawsuit.

Lake, a former television news anchor, was one of the most high-profile Republican candidates in the midterm elections to embrace former Republican President Donald Trump's false claims of voter fraud in 2020.

She lost the governor's race to Hobbs but refused to concede and continued making unconfirmed claims about election improprieties on her Twitter feed.

Lake was one of the most prominent of the Trump-aligned Republican candidates who lost battleground state races in the midterm elections.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Mary Milliken and Alistair Bell)