Stephen Richer campaigned in Maricopa County, Arizona, in 2020 on the slogan that he would “make the Recorder’s Office boring again.” By any measure, he’s failed.
The self-styled “hardcore libertarian” was elected as a Republican after he drafted a blistering 228-page review of Maricopa County’s 2018 election administration as well as a 48-page audit lambasting the Democrat running the county’s elections. His pledge to be less political than his predecessor Adrian Fontes and restore confidence in elections generated support from Republicans eager to improve election administration in the populous county where more than 60 percent of Arizonans live.
Upon election to the county recorder seat, however, Richer abruptly and completely rejected his previous rhetoric and claims, even defending the integrity of Fontes, the man he said was so important to defeat. He now uses his perch as an opportunity to regularly defend the Democrat-run 2020 election in Maricopa County, write op-eds at CNN against the type of election audits he conducted to gain power, draft lengthy screeds lambastingRepublican leaders and voters for their election integrity concerns, and push ranked-choice voting and other efforts critics say are disastrous for voter confidence in elections.
He even set up a Democrat-funded political action committee to support Arizona candidates who share his views, a move strongly rejected as unethical by ethical election officials. The Republican National Committee and Republican Party of Arizona just sued him for packing polls with Democrat workers and seeking to bury the paper trail.
And now he is alleged to have broken the law by using taxpayer resources to advocate against a ballot measure in Arizona that would improve voter identification methods for both unsupervised and in-person voters.
“Usually it takes a while for people to become co-opted by the system and reverse the positions they ran on. With Richer, it seemed to happen immediately,” said Gina Swoboda, executive director at the Voter Reference Foundation.