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Judge: Kristina Karamo, others must pay $58k for 'frivolous' elections suit

Kristina Karamo on stage
Kristina Karamo filed suit on the eve of the 2022 election seeking to block Detroit from accepting mail-in votes. A judge this week ordered her and others to repay the city’s legal fees. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Michigan GOP Chair Kristina Karamo, others ordered to pay $58,000 as sanctions for ‘frivolous’ lawsuit
  • The 2022 complaint had sought to disqualify mail-in ballots in Detroit but was ‘rife with speculation’
  • Ruling covers costs for Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey to defend motion that sought to disqualify all Detroit judges from hearing case

LANSING — Michigan GOP Chair Kristina Karamo, a state party attorney and other plaintiffs must pay a combined $58,459 to cover Detroit's costs for defending against a "frivolous" 2022 election lawsuit, a judge ruled Monday. 

The sanctions order from Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, a Republican appointee, comes roughly seven months after he dismissed the lawsuit from Karamo, who at the time was a candidate for Michigan Secretary of State.


Karamo and attorney Dan Hartman — who she has since hired as legal counsel for the Michigan GOP — had sought a last-minute court order to block all mail-in ballots in the city of Detroit for the November 2022 election. 


The lawsuit was "rife with speculation, an absence of facts and a lack of understanding of Michigan election statutes and Detroit absentee ballot procedures," Kenny wrote in his new ruling, reiterating why he had dismissed the case. 

In doing so, Kenny on Monday granted Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey's request for sanctions against Karamo, other plaintiffs and attorneys for a motion that had sought to disqualify all 57 judges in Wayne County's Third Circuit Court from hearing the case. 

That motion was frivolous, the judge wrote, citing state law allowing him to award attorney costs and fees to the prevailing party in such instances.

"Nothing was alleged to show a bias toward Defendant Detroit City Clerk by the Third Circuit Court bench," Kenny explained.


The Michigan Republican Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Karamo or Hartman. 

The lawsuit pre-dated their time atop the Michigan GOP. 

But Karamo, an election denier who refused to concede her 615,349-vote loss to Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, won election to the top state party post in February by vowing to continue fighting for "election integrity."

As a candidate for Michigan GOP chair, she vowed to "take legal action against individuals and agencies who are violating election law" and alleged that unproven “corruption” is a "state and national security threat."

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