Arizona GOP Ordered to Pay State Over $18,000 for 'Groundless' Election Lawsuits

The Arizona Republican Party must pay the state more than $18,000 after it filed a "groundless" election lawsuit, a superior court judge ruled on Monday.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah dismissed the lawsuit brought by the state's GOP—which challenged the 2020 election process—as "disingenuous" and "groundless."

Former President Donald Trump and many Republican allies have repeatedly pushed false claims that the 2020 election was "rigged" or "stolen." But dozens of lawsuits challenging the election's integrity have been dismissed or rejected across the country, including by judges appointed by Trump and other Republicans.

"The public has a right to expect the Arizona Republican Party to conduct itself respectfully," Hannah wrote in his ruling this week, according to The Arizona Republic. "It has failed to do so in this case."

The judge said that the state's GOP had worked to undermine the election process and failed to live up to its "privileged position in the electoral process." He described the challenges as "flimsy excuses" and accused the state GOP of casting "false shadows on the election's legitimacy."

Kelli Ward and Donald Trump
President Donald Trump is greeted by the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, Kelli Ward, as he arrives to deliver remarks on immigration and border security on August 18, 2020, at the international airport in Yuma, Arizona. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY

Hannah ordered the political party to pay $18,238 to the Arizona secretary of state's office for filing the frivolous lawsuit. However, that's reportedly just a small fraction of the more than $150,000 the state paid in defending itself in the case.

Newsweek reached out to the Arizona Republican Party for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Jack Wilenchik, one of the attorneys representing the state GOP, said Hannah's ruling was "sorely disrespectful to the views of the many Americans whom I am proud to represent," according to the Associated Press. Wilenchik also said that there would be an appeal and that the superior court decision "encourages public distrust in the government for being openly hostile to them."

Trump narrowly lost Arizona to Joe Biden by a margin of 0.3 percent of the overall vote. Biden won by less than 11,000 votes—becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1996. Both of the state's Senate seats are now held by Democrats as well, since Mark Kelly also won in the 2020 races.

Eight unsuccessful legal challenges to the 2020 election have been filed in Arizona. Two of those lawsuits were filed by the state's GOP, while another was brought by the state's GOP chair, Kelli Ward. In December, Ward called on Trump to "cross the Rubicon" as he promoted false claims about Biden's election victory—a reference to Caesar's undemocratic ascension to become Rome's dictator, which prompted a civil war.

Although Trump and his allies continue to suggest that Biden and the Democrats rigged the election, there is no evidence to support this claim. The former president's own attorney general, William Barr, said in December there was "no evidence" to substantiate the conspiracy theory.

In November, just days after the election was called in Biden's favor, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, which was led by a Trump appointee, described the election as "the most secure in American history."