Arizona judge slaps Finchem and Gosser in defamation lawsuit

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona judge has ordered three Republicans, including Secretary of State candidate Mark Finkem and U.S. Congressman Paul Gosser, to defame former Democrats “primarily for the purpose of harassment.” He was ordered to pay $75,000 in attorney fees for filing a lawsuit. ”

Republicans filed a lawsuit last year against former Democratic congressman Charlene Fernandez. dismissed the lawsuit In April, it said Fernandez’s request was protected by free speech and the First Amendment right to petition the government.

The lawsuit was “frivolous and not made in good faith,” Yuma County Judge Pro Tem Levi Gunderson ruled Monday, adding that “a judge other than the assigned trial court judge It was written for an audience,” he added.

Gunderson said legal documents by Republicans made irrelevant references to open borders and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The lawsuit was “primarily brought against political opponents for the purpose of harassment and was brought for improper purposes,” he added.

Fernandez and 41 other Democrats signed a letter on January 12, 2021, to the U.S. Department of Justice Finkem, Gosar, then-state Rep. Anthony Kahn, and U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, all from Arizona. requested an investigation of Republicans. Finchem and Kern said he was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, while Gosar and Biggs are under scrutiny for their role in aiding the protests leading to the tallying of the electoral votes that day. All deny wrongdoing.

Finkem and Khan, who are running for Senate this year, sued Fernandez, and Gosser later joined the case. They claimed the letter was slanderous and that Fernandez had “unfoundedly” accused them of “the greatest crime against the U.S. government.”

Finkem said in a text message that he is weighing his options. A person who responded to a cell phone number that Khan had previously used hung up when the reporter identified himself and texted her not responding. A Gosar spokesperson did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Of the 42 Democrats who signed the letter, only Fernandez was sued. She was previously the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, but was not the leader of the Democratic Party at the time the letter was signed and published. Fernandez resigned from Congress last year to run for President Joe Biden’s administration.