The Washington state Supreme Court has fined a nonprofit group and its attorney more than $28,000 for making legally baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
The Washington Election Integrity Coalition United was ordered to pay nearly $9,600 and its Sequim, Washington-based attorney Virginia Shogren was ordered to pay nearly $18,800 for the lawsuit against Gov. Jay Inslee, the Seattle Times reported .
The fines were imposed last month and announced Wednesday by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who defended Inslee in the case. Ferguson said his office also intends to file a complaint 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 had been stolen from him. These claims have been dismissed in dozens of court cases and audits across the country, finding no widespread fraud.
The coalition petitioned the state Supreme Court in October to seek a ruling that Inslee violated its constitutional duties by allegedly allowing or encouraging the state licensing department to register non-citizens to vote. The court dismissed the lawsuit.
In its request for sanctions, Ferguson’s office wrote that the petition was “so baseless that there was no reasonable possibility that it would have succeeded.” The motion noted that the petition was largely based on unsworn testimony from a retired Department of Licensing employee who made “dubious” assumptions about people’s citizenship status based on their ethnicity.
Inslee said in a statement that people who “deliberately spread lies and undermine our elections must be held accountable.” The governor proposed legislation this year that would have criminalized some lying about elections, but got nowhere.
Neither the Shogren nor the Coalition responded to the newspaper’s requests for comment. In a website post, the coalition said the sanctions courts “intended to discourage any case that will shine a bright light on one of the fatal flaws in our electoral system.”
The coalition is led by Tamborine Borrelli, who ran for foreign minister this year.
Her group has also filed lawsuits against county election officials to demand audits of the 2020 election with similar allegations of widespread conspiracy. Republican congressional candidates Joe Kent and Doug Basler have also filed as plaintiffs.
Six of those lawsuits are still pending in the US District Court for West Washington – and could result in additional penalties.