In March 2021, American Oversight obtained copies of the forged electoral vote certificates signed and submitted to the National Archives and Congress by supporters of former President Trump seeking to undo his election loss. The false certificates were part of a scheme in which Trump allies, pointing to lies about widespread voter fraud, sought to present the signatories as “alternate” slates of electors and thus prevent the Jan. 6, 2021, congressional certification of President Biden’s victory.
Of the 84 individuals who signed their names to the seven certificates, 14 who served as leaders of the effort in their respective states were subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
While the plot to overturn the 2020 election failed, the lies upon which it was based have been kept alive by election-denying activists across the country who have worked to cast doubt not just on the 2020 results but on the integrity of U.S. election processes. Several of the fake electors have been active in those efforts, including by playing key roles in partisan sham election investigations. Below is a summary of records obtained by American Oversight that reveal the involvement of several fake electors in efforts to undermine faith in democracy.
The Arizona Senate’s notorious and discredited “audit” of votes cast in Maricopa County in 2020 had roots in the wider effort by Trump and his allies to overturn the results. Shortly after the election, Senate leaders issued subpoenas to the county for cast ballots, voting machines, voter rolls, and other election information, initiating the partisan review that would officially begin in the spring.
On Dec. 31, 2020, then-incoming state Sen. Kelly Townsend sent a letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence asking that he “not accept” Arizona’s valid electors during the Jan. 6 congressional certification. It’s unclear whether Pence received the letter, but Townsend’s letter appears to be similar to one sent on Jan. 5 by state Rep. Jake Hoffman — who signed his name to Arizona’s fake elector slate — which also asked the vice president not to accept the state’s rightful electoral votes.
On Jan. 5, Townsend introduced a resolution in the Arizona Senate calling for the appointment of the “alternate” slate of pro-Trump electors. That day, she emailed allies a link to the resolution, writing, “This resolution … is prepared and ready for the election audit findings, should they result in what I expect to happen.”
Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, was also among the 11 Arizonans who signed their names to the bogus electoral slate. Text messages and voicemails obtained by the Arizona Republic in July 2021 revealed a concerted effort by Ward and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the weeks after the election to get county supervisors on board with the Trump campaign’s unfounded allegations of serious voting irregularities. This included a text sent by Ward days after the election, as ballots were still being tabulated, asking a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors “to stop the counting.”
Records obtained by American Oversight also showed that Ward was in frequent contact with “audit” leaders, including regarding issues with fundraising for the partisan review. American Oversight’s investigation uncovered texts between Ward and Senate President Karen Fann in which Ward explained why the state party was using the “audit” as a fundraising hook. In another text message exchange from May 2021, Ward asked for a copy of the “new criteria about who can volunteer for the audit,” and in a follow-up message asked whether a group led by “audit” funder and prominent election denier Patrick Byrne could be “helping to fund the current vetting contractor.” (Byrne’s group, the America Project, contributed more than $3 million to the “audit,” and group leaders appear to have played operational roles in the review.) In a separate text exchange the next month, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan said that he was waiting “to hear back from Kelli for a time to talk” about funding.
Another of Arizona’s fake electors was James Lamon, the former head of solar engineering firm DEPCOM Power who in 2022 ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate. Lamon, who has financially backed a number of conservative groups in Arizona, including donating $2 million to a pro-Trump PAC, is also known to have paid for security guards at the Maricopa County “audit” premises. Records obtained by American Oversight include an email about the election review from Ken Bennett, who served as the Senate’s “audit” liaison, to Lamon and his DEPCOM associate Scott Masino — who, according to records, “provided security for the audit.”
On April 23, 2021, Lamon texted “audit” spokesman Randy Pullen, writing that he would “front the cost … last resort if needed” for the “TRO.” Lamon was likely referring to the Arizona Democratic Party’s unsuccessful lawsuit seeking the release of certain documents as well as a temporary restraining order against the Senate to delay the “audit.” The same day, Lamon’s campaign manager Jeff DeWit exchanged messages with Pullen that appear to refer to a potential donation from Lamon.
Two of Pennsylvania’s fake electors, Andre McCoy and Bill Bachenberg, were also involved in the Arizona “audit” — an illustration of how interconnected the nationwide network of election-denial activists is.
Bachenberg chaired the false electors effort in Pennsylvania and in early 2022 was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee. In a September 2021 email containing a summary of Cyber Ninjas’ final report, Bachenberg wrote that “PA will be one of the next domino’s [sic] to fall,” employing language frequently used by election conspiracy theorists. That same month, Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate launched a “forensic investigation” of the state’s 2020 election results.
Bachenberg was also copied on a July 29, 2021, email thread that included Logan, Chris Witt of “audit” subcontractor Wake TSI, and others about a payment dispute, suggesting that he might have played a significant role in the operation. Similarly, in a text sent earlier that month in response to a list of expenses, Randy Pullen asked, “I assume Doug Logan sent this to Bill?” It’s unclear if Pullen was referring to Bachenberg, but the timing of the message may suggest a connection to the Wake TSI payment dispute.
McCoy, who was present at the Maricopa ballot recount, frequently took part in conversations about “audit” security and access. His name appeared on a list of employees retained by Wake TSI, where he was listed as a “Security consultant.” He was also copied on an April 2021 email thread with Logan and others about volunteer background checks, and appears to have received a June text message from Logan in which Logan told him that individuals from the America Project were no longer allowed at the “audit” site. In August, Logan and Wake TSI received an email from a lawyer seeking a missing payment owed to McCoy.
Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party and one of the state’s six fake electors, has repeatedly made false claims about the 2020 election. Another Nevada fake elector was Jesse Law, a former Trump campaign staffer who is now chairman of the Clark County Republican Party. Texts obtained by American Oversight show that both Law and McDonald toured the site of the Arizona “audit” in 2021 alongside other Nevada Republicans, including Finance Chair Don Ahern, whose Ahern Hotel hosted a QAnon conference that year that was widely attended by election deniers.
Early in 2022, the Jan. 6 committee issued subpoenas to McDonald and Nevada GOP Vice Chair James DeGraffenried, another signer of the state’s fake electoral slate. In June, the FBI seized McDonald’s cell phone in connection to the Justice Department’s investigation of the scheme by Trump and his allies to overturn the election. McDonald later confirmed that he had testified before the committee and said that his lawyers had remained in contact with Justice Department investigators.
Bob Spindell, who signed Wisconsin’s false electoral slate, has been a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) since 2019. He has frequently made false claims about voter fraud and publicly supported the “Stop the Steal” effort, even joining attorney Michael Gableman — who led the State Assembly’s partisan and expensive review of the 2020 election — at an August 2021 “cyber symposium” hosted by election denier Mike Lindell in South Dakota. Early in 2021, Spindell declined to recuse himself from a vote on whether the WEC should investigate Wisconsin’s false electors for violating election law, later running an unsuccessful campaign to chair the commission.
Records obtained by American Oversight show that following the 2020 election, Spindell was included on emails from prominent election deniers pushing for further investigation of the state’s results. In June 2021, Harry Wait, leader of the Wisconsin-based conservative group HOT Government, included Spindell in an email in which Wait urged Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to direct investigators to focus on the actions of a Racine County employee. About a month after Vos appointed Gableman to lead the Assembly’s investigation, Wait included Spindell in an email urging Vos “to extend the timeline allotted to Mr. Gableman and provide additional support to him for a real look at the 2020 elections.”
Another email indicates that Spindell’s office may have assisted Gableman’s inquiry. In November 2021, Spindell’s personal assistant emailed Gableman about office supplies and security recommendations. American Oversight has sent several requests to the WEC for Spindell’s records, more than a dozen of which have gone unanswered.
La Crosse County Republican Party Chairman Bill Feehan is another of Wisconsin’s false electors. In 2012, Feehan unsuccessfully ran for the Wisconsin Senate, and in 2022 he sat on an advisory board for the campaign of gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch, an election denier who previously sued the WEC over its administration of the 2020 election.
American Oversight has also filed numerous open records requests seeking information from entities in Georgia, Michigan, and New Mexico about individuals who signed their names to those states’ alternate slates, including those holding public office. This page will be updated with any findings.
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