The state Attorney General’s Office has filed a bar complaint against a Sequim lawyer who has filed a raft of lawsuits making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in Washington.
The complaint to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel takes aim at attorney Virginia Shogren for a lawsuit against Gov. Jay Inslee that was recently rejected as “frivolous” by the state Supreme Court.
Shogren represented the Washington Election Integrity Coalition United in the Inslee lawsuit, which alleged widespread registration of noncitizens. The state Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit as without legal merit and last month ordered Shogren and the coalition to pay more than $28,000 in legal penalties.
The bar complaint, signed by Solicitor General Noah Purcell, accuses Shogren of violating professional conduct rules when she “advanced frivolous legal arguments and made allegations of voter fraud with no basis in fact.”
The complaint cited claims by Shogren that her client had identified 50,000 noncitizens registered to vote in the state, without providing any basis or methodology for those assertions. A “casual check” of a sample of alleged noncitizens the coalition claimed had voted in 2020 showed the information was “not reliable,” Purcell wrote. For example, he wrote, one voter identified by the group had tweeted about becoming a naturalized citizen in 2019.
“Unfounded and baseless allegations, like those made by Ms. Shogren have the predictable effect of undermining the public’s faith in our democratic institutions,” Purcell wrote.
Shogren did not immediately respond to a request for comment. She was admitted to the state bar in 2003 and has no other public disciplinary history, according to the bar association’s online legal directory.
The election coalition represented by Shogren has several additional lawsuits against elections officials pending in federal court which make unsubstantiated claims of massive vote fraud. None of the group’s lawsuits across the state has been successful — mirroring the situation nationally for such cases, which echo former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.
The group’s leader, Tamborine Borrelli, is running for secretary of state this year, listing her party affiliation as “America First (R).”
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel is charged with investigating ethics complaints against attorneys in the state. It can recommend punishment ranging from a formal warning to suspension or disbarment. Final decisions are made by court-appointed hearings officers, with all suspensions and disbarments reviewed by the state Supreme Court.
The complaint signed by Purcell does not seek any particular punishment, but asks the office to “look into this matter and take further action as you deem appropriate.”