PHOENIX - Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is seeking an investigation of failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake after the she published signatures of some people from the voter registration records.
In a letter late Monday to Attorney General Kris Mayes, Fontes cites a Jan. 23 Twitter post where Lake claims a "bombshell discovery,'' saying 40,000 ballots were "illegally counted.''
As proof, she embedded an image of signatures from 16 ballot envelopes and what she said were the signatures of the same people from their voter registration records.
"Do you think these Arizona ballot signatures match???'' the posting says.
But Fontes said while state law allows for public inspection of voter registration records for election-related purposes, it says those containing a signature "shall not be accessible or reproduced by any person other than the voter.''
There are other exceptions in the statute, ranging from government officials in the scope of official duties and verifying signatures on petitions and candidate filings, to news reporters and those with a court order. But Fontes said what Lake did falls outside of all that.
"The protections afforded by this subsection prohibit posting any information derived from voter registration forms or precinct registers to the internet,'' he told Mayes, like him, a newly elected Democrat. "And under no circumstance may a person other than the voter or a statutorily authorized person reproduce a voter's signature.''
What the law also says, Fontes said, is violations are a Class 6 felony which carry a presumptive penalty of a year in state prison.
"Therefore, the Secretary of State's Office is referring this matter to you for further investigation and possible prosecution,'' Fontes wrote, both for violating the law cited "and any other applicable state laws.''
Tim La Sota, an attorney for Lake, said told Capitol Media Services the complaint is "another attempt to weaponize the justice system with a phony allegation against a Republican.''
"Adrian Fontes selectively quotes the statute in an attempt to distort the law and smear Kari Lake in the process,'' he said, saying that Mayes should announce "she will have no part in this shameful, disgusting effort.''
La Sota also pointed out that the documents actually came out of the state Senate investigation of the 2020 election when the Senate had subpoenaed ballot envelopes and voting records. Part of that inquiry, he said, was looking at "acceptance of clearly mismatched signatures on early ballots'' by Maricopa County.
"Kari Lake has an absolute right under the First Amendment to republish the information presented to the Senate,'' La Sota said.
Lake has continued to insist, both at public events and court filings, that the outcome of the election was affected by intentional actions and other Election Day mistakes.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson last month refused to overturn the official returns which showed Lake losing to Democrat Katie Hobbs by 17,117 votes.
He said she provided no evidence during the trial that she should have been declared the winner. And Thompson said her theories about what went wrong, and why, were not backed by facts.
Lake still contends that issues with ballot printers and tabulators at vote centers were part of a scheme to depress the votes of Republicans who tend to vote on Election Day rather than cast early ballots. Yet the final results showed that some GOP contenders not only won but did so by wide margins as Republicans apparently made different decisions on different races.
The state Court of Appeals is set to review her claims on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Lake also has had a series of overflow rallies, including one this past Sunday at a Scottsdale resort where she showed some ballot signatures on screen, took a cell phone call from former President Trump which she played for the audience, called Hobbs a "squatter in the governor's office'' and told her, "don't get too comfortable, sweetie.''