Defamation lawsuit shows how Kari Lake has taken on Trump’s persona

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Kari Lake, right-wing conspiracy theorist and failed gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, has been sued by Maricopa County’s top elections official over falsehoods that Lake has been spreading after her election loss in November.

Stephen Richer, a fellow Republican who serves as recorder for Arizona’s most populous county, announced his defamation lawsuit in an op-ed published by The Arizona Republic. The suit names Lake, her campaign and her political action committee, Save Arizona Fund, as defendants. A spokesperson for Lake did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment

The Phoenix-area official wrote in his op-ed:

For the last seven months, a high-profile former statewide candidate for office — from my own political party — has spread falsehoods about our elections and about me specifically.

Rather than accept political defeat, rather than get a new job, she has sought to undermine confidence in our elections and has mobilized millions of her followers against me.

Even before Election Day last year, Lake tried to sow doubt about the legitimacy of her race and also unsuccessfully sought to ban the use of electronic voting machines. After losing the gubernatorial race to Democrat Katie Hobbs, Lake and her followers refused to accept reality and instead spread false allegations that voters had been disenfranchised. These baseless claims have been proved false by experts and in courtmultiple times. Yet Lake has continued to push them on social media and during interviews with right-wing figures.  

Lake’s words have “unleashed violent vitriol and other dire consequences,” Richer wrote in his op-ed. Specifically, he says he has had to take added security measures and that he has lost friends and lifelong relationships because of the falsehoods. 

“Lake has not sent me into hiding. Nor will she ever,” he wrote. “But her defamatory statements have irrevocably altered my life, closed opportunities and damaged relationships.”

Richer’s lawsuit follows Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates’ announcement that he will not seek reelection when his term ends next year. Gates has said he’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the violent threats and harassment campaign waged against him and his family. 

Lake has hitched her persona to former President Donald Trump by essentially parroting his election denialism and trying to use it to catapult her own political career (to minimal effect, so far). Some people suspect she’s vying to join Trump’s ticket as a vice presidential candidate, which could explain why she has reportedly been spending a lot of time at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate

For the time being, though, she just appears to be mimicking some of his worst behavior: lying about elections and trying to profit from the controversy. Lake, who has yet to declare a new candidacy, responded to Richer’s defamation lawsuit in truly Trumpian fashion — by trying to raise money. 

“They want to stop President Trump. They want to stop me. They want to stop you,” she wrote on Twitter, adding: “Not. Going. To. Happen.”

Then she posted a fundraising link.

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