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Legal Charges Against The Fake Electors

Updated: Aug 11

On July 18, 2023, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel criminally charged all 16 individuals from Michigan who signed legal documents claiming to be electors for Donald Trump in the electoral college. As of August 10, all 16 defendants have been arraigned in the District Court in Ingham County. All 16 defendants pled not guilty on all eight counts of their individual indictments.


All 16 of the Michigan fake electors have been charged with 8 felony counts under Michigan state law. These included:


  • Conspiracy to commit a forgery

  • Forgery

  • Conspiracy to commit uttering and publishing

  • Uttering and publishing

  • Conspiracy to commit election law forgery

  • Election law forgery


If convicted of these crimes, each fake elector could face decades in prison, and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.


Background

The 16 individuals charged in Michigan, known as “fake electors,” have been investigated at both the state and federal level for their role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Trump’s favor.

Fake Electors Charged in Michigan

Trump lost the popular vote in the state of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes. When the fake electoral college certificates were signed, there was no pending recount or litigation that could have changed Michigan’s 2020 presidential election results.


In the weeks leading up to the signing of the fake electoral certificates, Donald Trump invited Michigan elected officials, including then-House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) and then-Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R), to the White House in an effort to pressure them to overturn the results. They instead told him they planned to “follow the law,” and declined to work with the state legislature to do as he requested. Later, Shirkey said: “I was tired of hearing all of these loosely calculated claims and allegations but no substance to back them up,” adding that the unsubstantiated claims were “destroying the country” and creating “unnecessary doubt.”


The state was one of seven where a set of “fake electors” signed legal paperwork stating that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election in their state, ignoring popular vote totals to the contrary that had already been certified. Michigan, along with Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, were all at the center of a campaign by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results.


While they did not ultimately act on this, at one point the 16 fake electors in Michigan had a plan to hide in the state capitol building so as to increase the likelihood that they would be able to cast their votes in the electoral college for Donald Trump. The then-chair of the Michigan GOP, Laura Cox, has publicly referred to these plans as “insane and inappropriate.” Instead, the fake electors were ultimately denied entry to the state capitol on December 14, 2020, and the electoral college votes were cast for popular-vote winner President Joe Biden.


The 16 Michigan fake electors who were charged are Kathy Berden, Rose Rook, Mayra Rodriguez, William “Hank” Choate, Meshawn Maddock, Mari-Ann Henry, John Haggard, Clifford Frost, Kent Vanderwood, Stanley Grot, Marian Sheridan, Timothy King, James Renner, Michel Lundgren, Amy Facchinello, and Ken Thompson. They were all state or county Republican party officials.


Other Investigations Into MI Fake Electors

These fake electors have also been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Special Counsel Jack Smith has recently indicated that Donald Trump will likely be indicted in that investigation. If he is indicted, Special Counsel Smith has indicated that he may face charges for obstructing official proceedings, for conspiracy to defraud the United States, and for conspiring to threaten or intimidate persons from exercising a right or privilege guaranteed under the Constitution or laws of the United State.


It is unknown if anyone else will be charged at this time, or what crimes they may face.


The 16 fake electors are also separately defendants in a civil lawsuit, where they are accused of submitting fraudulent election certificates, attempting to override the will of Michigan voters.


Attorney General Dana Nessel

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has served in this role since she was elected in November 2018. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan, and a JD from Wayne State University. She has worked as a county prosecutor, and also owned and ran her own law firm.


In her time in office, AG Nessel has overseen an investigation into child sex abuse resulting in 11 charges against alleged offenders. She has also charged several individuals with ties to the Larry Nassar scandal. She has also sued opioid manufactures for the role they have played in Michigan’s opioid epidemic.


Attorney General Nessel’s job includes a duty to uphold and defend state law.


In filing charges against the 16 Michigan fake electors, she has used her state-granted investigatory powers to pursue accountability for individuals residing in Michigan, who she asserts took illegal actions in Michigan, in violation of Michigan state law.



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