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Republican Kari Lake draws corporate donations

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who has pushed false conspiracies about the 2020 presidential election, has seen a wave of support from corporate leaders in her bid for office.

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

That amount is the maximum an individual can give toward a candidate running for statewide office in Arizona. The third-quarter filing shows Lake’s campaign raised $3.5 million from July 17 through Sept. 30, and had $1.8 million on hand going into October. It was Lake’s best fundraising quarter this year.

Lake is one of at least 20 Republicans running for governor who have either disputed or outright denied the results of the 2020 presidential election that saw President Joe Biden defeat then-President Donald Trump. If she becomes governor, Lake would have the ability to sign or veto legislation related to election procedures.

Corporate leaders have contributed across the country to Republican candidates for state and federal office who have sowed doubts about the 2020 election results — and could have power to influence voting or results if they win.

Lake, a former TV news anchor who is running to replace the term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, is running a competitive race against his Democratic opponent, Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up. 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 that 2020 election because of widespread voter fraud. He helped to fuel the wave of GOP candidates casting doubts on the 2020 results. Dozens of lawsuits from the Trump campaign failed to show evidence of voter fraud or overturn results in swing states.

Ducey certified Arizona’s 2020 election results. During the GOP primary for his seat, he ripped Lake in a July interview with CNN, saying she is “misleading voters with no evidence.” After Lake won the nomination a month later, Ducey — the co-chair of the Republican Governors Association, a group that aims to elect candidates for governor — congratulated her on her victory and said the group was running ads in support of her.

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

Underscoring the importance of the Arizona contest, both parties have piled money into the swing-state governor’s race. It has attracted at least $30 million in ad spending, making it one of the most expensive gubernatorial contests this year, according to data from AdImpact. Election Day is on Nov. 8.

Wealthy leaders of companies based both in Arizona and around the country boosted Lake’s bid in the third quarter.

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

Dave Alexander, founder of Caljet, one of the largest motor fuel storage companies in the U.S., contributed $5,300 in August; Ronald Cameron, chair of the board of chicken-processing company Mountaire Corp., donated $5,300 in September; John Goodman, the chair of Goodman Real Estate, gave $5,300 a month earlier. Goodman reportedly owns a garage full of Ferraris and Corvettes, along with a yacht marina.

The wealthy donors to Lake’s campaign are the latest business heads moving to finance a Republican candidate who has made false claims about both the 2020 election and the current 2022 contest.

Lake claimed before winning the GOP primary that if she lost, it would have been due to “some cheating going on.” After winning the primary, Lake said, “We out-voted the fraud.”

In a recent interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, the gubernatorial hopeful said she will accept the results of the election, even if she loses, if “we have a fair, honest and transparent election.” But according to Karl, Lake offered up 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 defeated Trump in Arizona during the last election by less than a percentage point.

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

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

Beyond the corporate leaders, Lake also received donations in the third quarter from the political action committee of CRH Americas, a building-materials company that has a presence in the U.S. but is headquartered in Ireland. CRH Americas PAC contributed $2,500 to Lake in September.

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

An Arizona-based employee PAC for Southwest Gas, a company that provides millions of people across the country with natural gas, also contributed $5,300.

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

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