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Republican Kari Lake attracts corporate donations

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who pushed false conspiracies about the 2020 presidential election, has seen an outpouring of support from business leaders in her candidacy.

Lake, in the third quarter alone, received more than a dozen checks, each worth $5,300, from business leaders, according to state campaign finance records.

This amount is the maximum an individual can give to a candidate running for a statewide position in Arizona. The third quarter record shows Lake’s campaign raised $3.5 million from July 17 through September 30 and had $1.8 million through October. It was Lake’s best fundraising quarter this year.

Lake is one of at least 20 Republican gubernatorial candidates who have challenged or outright denied the results of the 2020 presidential election that saw President Joe Biden defeat then-President Donald Trump. If she became governor, Lake would have the ability to sign or veto election procedures legislation.

Business leaders have contributed across the country to Republican candidates for state and federal office who have cast doubt on the 2020 election results – and could have the power to influence the vote or the results if they win.

Lake, a former television news anchor running to replace Republican Arizona limited-term governor Doug Ducey, is staging a competitive race against Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a draw. Lake leads Hobbs by about 1 percentage point in an average of polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight.

Lake is endorsed by Trump, who has spread false conspiracies that he lost this 2020 election due to widespread voter fraud. He helped fuel the wave of GOP candidates running for office while casting doubt on the 2020 results. Dozens of Trump campaign lawsuits have failed to prove voter fraud or overturn results in swing states.

Ducey certified the results of the 2020 election in Arizona. During the GOP primary for his seat, he ripped Lake in a July interview with CNN, saying she’s “misleading voters without any evidence.” After Lake won the nomination a month later, Ducey — the co-chair of the Republican Governors Association, a group that aims to elect GOP gubernatorial candidates — congratulated her on her win and said the group was running ads to support her.

Hobbs, as the state’s top election official, denied any wrongdoing in the 2020 election.

Underscoring the importance of the Arizona contest, both sides piled cash in the swing state governor’s race. It saw at least $30 million in ad spend, making it one of the most expensive gubernatorial contests this cycle, according to data from AdImpact. Election day is November 8.

Wealthy business executives based both in Arizona and across the country boosted Lake’s supply in the third quarter.

George Ryan, CEO and chairman of tax advisory firm Ryan LLC, donated $5,300 in September to Lake’s campaign, records show. Leo Beus, lawyer and founding member of Beus Gilbert McGroder, donated the same amount that month. Robert Zarnegin, president and CEO of real estate firm Probity International Corp., donated $5,300 to Lake’s political organization in late August.

Dave Alexander, the founder of Caljet, one of the largest fuel storage companies in the United States, contributed $5,300 to Lake’s candidacy in August. Ronald Cameron, chairman of the board of chicken processing company Mountaire Corp., donated $5,300 for Lake’s run for governor in September. John Goodman, the president of Goodman Real Estate, donated $5,300 to Lake’s campaign a month earlier. Goodman reportedly owns a garage full of Ferraris and Corvettes, as well as a marina.

Lake’s wealthy campaign donors are the latest business leaders to fund a Republican candidate who made false claims about both the 2020 election and the current 2022 contest.

Lake claimed before winning the GOP primary that if she had lost it would have been due to “ongoing cheating.” After winning the primary, Lake said, “We voted against fraud.”

In a recent interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News, the gubernatorial candidate said she would accept the election results, even if she loses, if “we have a fair, honest and transparent election.” But according to Karl, Lake made other unsubstantiated points about the 2020 election, including the false claim that Maricopa County accepted 2,000 ballots after Election Day two years ago. Biden beat Trump in Arizona in the last election by less than a percentage point.

Almost all of the business executives mentioned in this story did not return requests for comment, including questions about Lake’s policy proposals they support.

Alexander confirmed to CNBC that he supports Lake, but declined to comment further.

Beyond business leaders, Lake also received donations in the third quarter from the political action committee of CRH Americas, a building materials company with a US presence but headquarters in Ireland. CRH Americas PAC paid Lake $2,500 in September.

A spokesperson for CRH Americas did not respond to a request for comment.

An Arizona-based PAC employee for Southwest Gas, a company that supplies natural gas to millions across the country, also contributed $5,300 to Lake’s campaign.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Southwest Gas said the company’s PAC employee “is non-partisan and evaluates and supports candidates from all parties based on several criteria, including their commitment to a balanced and sustainable energy future and Kari Lake is one of those candidates.”


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