The Maricopa County Republican Party Executive Committee has censured County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, condemning her for leading an aggressive legal defense of the mismanaged 2022 election.
The censure follows a refusal by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter A. Thompson of Mitchell’s request for sanctions against the attorneys for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. The judge found Lake’s attorneys “did not stray from advocacy into misconduct as would warrant invocation of the Court’s sanctioning authority.”
Mitchell and her legal team have been widely criticized for their overt hostility towards any election challenge legally allowed under Arizona law. Mitchell’s request for sanctions initially prompted Republican activists to call for Mitchell to be “primaried” in the 2024 election cycle.
The censure of Mitchell is sure to heighten interest in Republican circles to find a primary challenger for the unpopular county attorney.
Mitchell and her team accused Lake’s team of intentionally misrepresenting facts to the Court that they knew “lacked factual merit.” The judge disagreed.
“The Court does not find that the “misstatements” in the Rule 60 motion briefing, or the “remarkably bold assertion” assertion at oral argument alleged by the Defendants stray from advocacy into misconduct as would warrant invocation of the Courts sanctioning authority. The proceedings in which the statements were made were Lake’s and the Defendants’ opportunity to argue their cases and present their evidence. They did so, and the Court ruled,” wrote Judge Thompson.
Maricopa County’s handling of the 2022 General Election sparked national controversy when countless number of voters were disenfranchised by equipment failure on Election Day. Rather than extend the voting hours to accommodate voters who were denied access to the polls earlier in the day, Mitchell and her assistant County Attorneys fought to close the polls at the normal time.
After the election, presumably with the County Attorney’s blessing, candidates like Lake who were filing election challenges in court were met with stall tactics, evasiveness, as well as delays and denials of public records requests by the County.
Specifically, the Resolution of Censure cites Mitchell’s “specious motion… with the Maricopa County Superior Court, cosigned by former MCRC Chairman Tom Liddy, to impose sanctions for attorney misconduct before the court, mov[ing] for an award of sanctions, against “Plaintive-Contestant” Republican Governor Candidate in the 2022 General Election “Kari Lake and her counsel,” a motion, ultimately, and completely rejected by the court.”
The Committee accused the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office of persisting “in a wide-ranging multitude of ongoing dishonorable behaviors, directly and dangerously undermining the integrity of Maricopa County public elections.”
“Threats of sanctions is a way to silence the voices of candidates and citizens who want to exercise their right to challenge elections, a right granted by A.R.S. Title 16. The voices she is trying to silence by way of unfounded sanctions are the voices she vowed to represent when elected. There is overwhelming and growing concerns about the accuracy and security of our elections and Rachel Mitchel has attempted to discredit and silence those concerned Arizona Citizens. We the people should not fear government retaliation for demanding government accountability,” said Republican Legislative District 22 Chairman Steve Robinson.