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Maricopa County leader calls Kari Lake ‘irresponsible’


GOP candidate for governor says she has proof of ‘stealing.’ Board chair Bill Gates says if Lake has evidence, she needs to turn it over ‘right away.’

PHOENIX — The chairman of the Maricopa County Board says “it’s beyond irresponsible” that GOP candidate for governor Kari Lake is claiming to have proof of election fraud without providing any evidence to back it up.

“If they’re holding on to information, they need to turn it over right away,” Board Chairman Bill Gates said in an interview on this weekend’s “Sunday Square Off.”

“It is beyond irresponsible for a major candidate in the Republican Party to be making these allegations. If they have proof, they need to provide it.”

The 2022 midterm elections will mark Gates’ second straight election cycle at the helm of a Republican-controlled County Board that oversees the vote in the country’s second-largest election jurisdiction.

RELATED: ‘Sharpies are out. Pentels are in’: 2020 election conspiracy theories affecting 2022 Arizona primary

The primary is Tuesday. Early voting began July 6.

After Democrat Joe Biden’s historic victory in Maricopa County in 2020, County Board members were blamed by the Trump White House and fellow Arizona Republicans. The five-member board has dealt with harassment and death threats.

Lake, whose career as a television news anchor and reporter is her only professional experience, is one of several Donald Trump-endorsed candidates on Arizona’s Republican primary ballot who are spreading the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. 

“We’re already detecting some stealing going on,” Lake told a Republican group last week. She repeated the claim during an interview on Phoenix radio.

The Lake campaign hasn’t provided any evidence of wrongdoing. 

In the 21 months since the presidential election, no credible investigators have presented evidence of fraud that would have affected the outcome in Maricopa County. Biden was the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the county in 52 years.

The cost to taxpayers of Arizona Senate Republicans’ review and recount of the 2020 vote is approaching $5 million. 

RELATED: Who’s who in Arizona’s 2022 governor race

With two days to go until Tuesday’s primary election, polling shows Lake is the front-runner in the Republican primary for governor, ahead of Karrin Taylor Robson. Taylor Robson is a real estate developer who has spent a record $15 million of her own money on the campaign.

As she competes for votes, Lake has sent mixed messages via fund-raising emails, social media posts and a federal lawsuit: 

Warning voters about “notorious” early ballots; telling groups “our elections are rotten and dirty and filthy”; and suing to bar the use of ballot-counting machines in November. 

All the while, Lake has urged voters to return their early ballots or cast a ballot in-person at a polling place.

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