Judge orders Arizona GOP to pay $18K in failed presidential election lawsuits

The Arizona Republican Party and its lawyers must pay more than $18,000 in legal fees to the Arizona secretary of state after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that one of the party’s failed lawsuits challenging President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE’s win there last year was “groundless.”

Judge John Hannah concluded last week that the state GOP filed the baseless suit for political reasons while claiming it was meant to protect election integrity and failed to recognize it had sued the wrong government official, The Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, “The financial award was made under a law that requires judges to assess attorney fees against lawyers or legal parties who bring claims to court without substantial justification or to delay or harass.” 

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Taxpayers were forced to cover the legal fees to defend the state government last year, the AP reported. 

The GOP, which tried to establish a new audit of a sampling of ballots, said the motive behind the suit was to determine whether voting machines were hacked, but Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) argued that the legal action was a “delay tactic” to undermine the certification of the election results.

In the ruling, Hannah contended that the GOP “made no serious pre-filing effort to determine the validity of the claims” and never named Hobbs as the defendant in the suit, instead pressing its claims against county election officials.

Jack Wilenchik, one of the lawyers for the state Republican Party, issued a statement saying the decision would be appealed and that the judge’s ruling that public mistrust in an election is an “improper purpose” for the suit is “sorely disrespectful to the views of the many Americans whom I am proud to represent,” the AP reported.

He added that the order “encourages public distrust in the government for being openly hostile to them.”

The Arizona Republican Party did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

No evidence of fraud or hacking of voting machines in the state’s election was found.