Washington group fined for baseless voter fraud lawsuit | National government and new policies

SEATTLE, AP — The Washington state Supreme Court has fined a nonprofit group and its attorney more than $28,000 for making legally baseless claims alleging widespread voter fraud during the 2020 elections.

The Washington Election Integrity Coalition United was ordered to pay nearly $9,600, and its Sequim, Washington-based lawyer, Virginia Shogren, was ordered to pay nearly $18,800 for suing Governor Jay Inslee, reported the Seattle Times.

The fines were imposed last month and announced Wednesday by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office, which defended Inslee in the case. Ferguson said his office also intends to file a lawsuit against Shogren with the Washington State Bar Association.

The sanctions were the latest defeat for the “Stop the Steal” movement fueled by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. These allegations have been dismissed in dozens of lawsuits and audits across the country as no widespread fraud has been uncovered.

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The coalition had filed a petition with the state Supreme Court in October, seeking a ruling that Inslee violated its constitutional duties by allowing or encouraging the state’s Licensing Department to register noncitizens to vote. The court dismissed the case.

In its motion for sanctions, Ferguson’s office wrote that the motion was “so devoid of legal merit that there was no reasonable possibility that it was successful.” The motion noted that the petition was based largely on unsworn statements by a retired Licensing Department employee who made “questionable” assumptions about people’s citizenship status based on their ethnicity.

Inslee, in a statement, said people who “intentionally spread lies and undermine our elections must be held accountable.” The governor proposed legislation this year that would have criminalized certain lies about the election, but that did not move forward.

Neither Shogren nor the coalition responded to the newspaper’s requests for comment. In a post on the website, the coalition said the sanctions show the courts are “committed to discouraging any case that will bring to light any of the ways our electoral system is fatally flawed.”

The coalition is led by Tamborine Borrelli, who filed for the post of secretary of state this year.

His group has also filed lawsuits against county election officials, demanding audits of the 2020 election, with similar allegations of a widespread conspiracy. Republican congressional candidates Joe Kent and Doug Basler have also signed on as plaintiffs.

Six of those lawsuits are still pending in the US District Court in Western Washington – and could result in additional penalties.

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