Become a Votebeat sponsor

Kari Lake lawyer suspended for 2 months for lying in court during election challenge

Bryan Blehm lied to the court and has not shown remorse, state bar attorneys told a Supreme Court disciplinary judge when recommending a longer suspension.

A blue sky and a modern tan building with steps and concrete in front of it.
The Arizona Supreme Court building in Phoenix. The court's presiding disciplinary judge heard a recommendation Tuesday from bar association lawyers to suspend Bryan Blehm, a lawyer who represented Kari Lake in election challenges. (Jen Fifield / Votebeat)

Votebeat is a nonprofit news organization reporting on voting access and election administration across the U.S. Sign up for Votebeat Arizona’s free newsletter here.

Update, June 7: The Arizona Supreme Court’s presiding disciplinary judge hearing panel ruled June 7 to suspend Bryan Blehm’s Arizona law license for 60 days, with one year of probation and a requirement to complete ethical training. Blehm also must pay the State Bar of Arizona’s legal costs for the disciplinary proceedings.

The panel stated that a long-term suspension was not warranted, in part because it was Blehm’s first disciplinary offense and “the misrepresentations at issue were so blatantly obvious there was little chance the Arizona Supreme Court would be misled by them.”

Lawyer Bryan Blehm, who challenged the results of Arizona’s 2022 election in court on behalf of GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, faces a suspension of his law license that would likely block him from challenging the results of the state’s upcoming election.

Blehm’s law license should be suspended for six months and one day, counsel for the State Bar of Arizona recommended to Arizona Supreme Court’s presiding disciplinary judge, Margaret Downie, during a hearing Tuesday.

The bar’s lawyers said they came to the recommendation after concluding that Blehm lied to the court when he claimed that it was an “undisputed fact” that fraudulent ballots were illegally “inserted” into the 2022 election results.

“Lying is a big deal for a lawyer,” Hunter Perlmeter*, bar counsel, told Downie. Perlmeter said that Blehm has not admitted wrongdoing or shown remorse.

Downie and a disciplinary panel consisting of a volunteer lawyer and a volunteer member of the public will issue a decision regarding Blehm’s punishment within 30 days.

Blehm was not at the hearing Tuesday. He did not immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment.

Downie’s decision will be a milestone for attorney discipline, as the state considers when long-shot challenges in elections cross the line to frivolous cases. It’s against rules of professional conduct to mislead the court, file frivolous cases, or bring cases in bad faith.

The recommendation to suspend Blehm’s license for one day past six months is significant: Under state bar rules, any suspension longer than six months would require Blehm to go through a full reinstatement hearing and show he has “been rehabilitated … and possesses the moral qualifications and knowledge of the law” required before his license is reinstated.

“The lawyer must prove that the reasons for which he/she engaged in misconduct have been overcome,” said Joe Hengemuehler, spokesperson for the state bar association. The idea is that “if a lawyer has identified why they engaged in misconduct and subsequently addressed those issues, they are not likely to re-offend.”

After the hearing, Blehm posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the recommended punishment “means I have to go and kiss their golden ring.”

So far, Blehm has denied breaking any rules of professional conduct. Indeed, Perlmeter told Downie, Blehm filed a “counterclaim” to the judge, without any legal authority to do so. The filing accuses the state bar and the bar lawyers in his case of breaking rules of professional conduct to tarnish his character and reputation.

Also, on an online talk show and in social media posts, he has accused the bar of filing the complaint against him for political reasons and of disbarring him without a trial, though he hasn’t been disbarred.

Perlmeter told the judge that Blehm’s comments about the court system and uncooperative response to the state bar during the investigation merit a substantial punishment.

“Mr. Blehm has made it abundantly clear he has no remorse for his conduct,” Perlmeter said.

If Downie follows the board’s recommendation, it’s unlikely Blehm could file a lawsuit challenging the results of this year’s election — for Lake, who is now running for U.S. Senate, or any other candidate. That’s because suspensions don’t take effect for 30 days unless otherwise specified.

Even if Downie resolves the case quickly, the 30 days plus six months and a day from Tuesday would push Blehm’s suspension into December, past this year’s Nov. 30 deadline for filing election contests for the Nov. 5 election. It’s also unclear how long reinstatement proceedings could take.

Blehm has practiced law for 20 years, according to testimony during the hearing on Tuesday, and worked at a family law firm until recently. His election law work began in 2021, when he agreed to represent government contractor Cyber Ninjas as they recounted all votes cast in Maricopa County’s 2020 presidential election on behalf of the Republican state Senate.

He has since represented Lake and an organization allied with her in multiple election lawsuits. He also represented two Republican Cochise County supervisors during the midterm election as they pushed for an illegal hand count of all ballots and sued the county’s elections director for attempting to block them.

The bar complaint stemmed from Blehm’s representation of Lake in her initial election challenge. The state Supreme Court issued $2,000 in sanctions against Blehm and Lake’s other attorney, Washington-based Kurt Olsen, for making the “undisputed fact” claim. This was a false representation, the court ruled, because the county and state had disputed the claim. Downie will hear a related bar complaint against Olsen in June.

During the hearing Tuesday, Downie asked why Blehm’s punishment should be greater than that of two other Republican lawyers who have acknowledged violating ethics rules while litigating recent election challenges. Perlmeter explained that, in those cases, the attorneys were not accused of violating the bar’s rules for misleading the court.

Downie also highlighted a recent Supreme Court opinion reversing sanctions in a separate case that made clear that the court is to treat election lawyers the same as lawyers practicing in other areas.

Perlmeter assured her that the case “is not being treated differently because of the political nature.”

Correction, May 21: This story originally misspelled Hunter Perlmeter’s name.

Jen Fifield is a reporter for Votebeat based in Arizona. Contact Jen at jfifield@votebeat.org.

The Latest

The request to the U.S. Department of Justice comes after Texas undermined ballot secrecy in the name of election transparency.

Registered voters in 96 Texas counties cast ballots at vote centers on election day. Scrapping that option could have costly implications.

The confirmation vote came one month after a staff member sent the mayor a letter saying Paulina Gutiérrez is unfamiliar with the processes needed to run elections smoothly.

The paint just dried on the county’s new elections building. Will new people in a new place pull off a successful election?

Defamation suit prompts distributor to disavow film about illegal voting. But its creators haven’t stopped selling the movie, or its false premise.