An Arizona judge ordered sanctions against Mark Finchem, an election denier who ran on the Republican ticket for Arizona’s secretary of state, for mounting a baseless challenge against the 2022 election results.
On Monday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Melissa Iyer Julian said that Finchem and his attorney filed their lawsuit “without substantial justification.” She is now ordering him to pay $292 in court costs to his Democratic opponent Adrian Fontes, as well as attorneys’ fees for Fontes and Governor Katie Hobbs, which she gave the Democrats 20 days to submit.
His challenge to the election was “groundless,” she wrote in the order, and “filed in bad faith.”
Finchem lost his race to Fontes by 120,208 votes in November. He filed a lawsuit in December seeking to redo the election under the false claim that then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs had engaged in misconduct and that illegal votes were cast due to technical issues, rendering the final result unreliable. The county judge threw out the lawsuit soon after it was filed.
Finchem still hasn’t conceded to Fontes, who’s since taken office.
In her order on Monday, the Maricopa County judge said that while state court only awards sanctions in “rare cases,” Finchem’s lawsuit qualified as one of them. “None of Contestant Finchem’s allegations, even if true, would have changed the vote count enough to overcome the 120,000 votes he needed to affect the result of this election,” she wrote.
She pointed out that, at one point, Finchem withdrew his request to inspect ballots, suggesting that the inspection wouldn’t go his way. This “demonstrates that Finchem challenged his election loss despite knowing that his claims regarding misconduct and procedural irregularities were insufficient under the law to sustain the contest,” Julian wrote.
Finchem plans on appealing this decision, according to his attorney.
“Mr. Finchem and bad actors like him cannot be permitted to avoid accountability,” Fontes said in a statement released by his campaign. “His repeated lies, apparent campaign finance violations, and bad-faith legal efforts are a drain on Arizona taxpayers and a stain on our state’s image.”
Read the full order below: