Newsletter: Continued Consequences for Fake Electors Scheme

This week, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul filed felony forgery charges against three allies of former President Trump who devised and helped implement the brazen scheme to subvert the 2020 vote by submitting false electoral certificates.

The charges against attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Jim Troupis and former Trump campaign aide Michael Roman are the first that Wisconsin prosecutors have brought against people involved in the fake electors scheme.

  • Chesebro, who was a principal architect of the plan, was one of six unindicted co-conspirators mentioned in the Justice Department’s indictment of Trump in its election interference case. He was also indicted last August alongside Trump in the Fulton County, Ga., case, and was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Arizona attorney general’s fake-electors case.
  • The charges against Troupis, who was Trump’s lead attorney for both the 2020 recount and election challenge in Wisconsin, are the first he’s facing for his role in the effort.
  • Roman, who served as director of Election Day operations for Trump’s 2020 campaign, was indicted in the Georgia case and the Arizona case. This week, Roman and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pleaded not guilty in court in Arizona.
  • On Tuesday, Chesebro, Roman and Troupis were charged with intent to forge the Wisconsin certificate, “knowing it to have been thus falsely made or altered, with one or more of the parties to the conspiracy doing an act to effect the objective of the conspiracy.”

In addition to the certificates themselves, American Oversight has also obtained records that shed light on the anti-democratic efforts of those involved in the fake electors scheme.

  • A Nov. 18 memo that Chesebro sent to Troupis is one of the earliest records pointing to the hatching of the fake electors plot. American Oversight obtained emails indicating that in the weeks after Election Day, legislative leaders in Arizona and Wisconsin sought legal advice about whether legislators had the power to alter the selection of electors after the election had taken place. 
  • Documents we uncovered show that Roman was involved in the Arizona Senate’s 2021 partisan election “audit” both operationally and as a funder. His name also appeared on a list of employees retained for the sham Maricopa County review by subcontractor Wake TSI, the firm that led the hand count of ballots until mid-May 2021.

Chesebro pleaded guilty in the Georgia case in December, with CNN reporting he was “now cooperating with Michigan and Wisconsin state investigators in hopes of avoiding more criminal charges.”

  • In a legal settlement in December, the 10 fake electors from Wisconsin formally acknowledged that Joe Biden had won the state and agreed not to serve as presidential electors in 2024 or in any future election in which Trump is on the ballot.

Effort to Block Public Records Access in Louisiana
American Oversight released a statement Friday regarding Louisiana HB 767, which would rewrite portions of the Louisiana Public Records Act to restrict access to public documents from the governor’s office.

  • “Transparency in Louisiana seems to be on the chopping block this year, with the state legislature making it easier for government officials to operate in the dark and more challenging for the public to obtain records aimed at exposing nefarious outside influences working within and across state lines,” American Oversight’s interim Executive Director Chioma Chukwu said. 
  • “This bill flies in the face of open government, restricting who can ask for records that belong to the public and placing an extra burden on resident requesters who seek to hold the Louisiana governor accountable,” she added. “We urge Gov. Landry to reject this bill.”
  • Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the governor this week signed legislation that also limits access to public records. In its reporting on the new law, the New York Times also cited our statement condemning an anti-transparency law in Utah that was signed by the state’s governor earlier this year.

On the Records

Behind the Scenes of Abortion Travel Bans
Across the country, state and local officials have proposed abortion travel bans, which prohibit people from using certain public roads to obtain an abortion, with some bans going into effect in several cities and counties in Texas. 

Records obtained by American Oversight provide new insight into how those activists have engaged with county officials in Texas.

  • The records  show Dickson and Mitchell contacting Mitchell County officials in July 2023 to advocate for a travel ban. In a letter to Mitchell county commissioners, he offered to represent the county at no cost if it were sued over the ban.
  • Other records show the Lubbock County Commissioners were in possession of a “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” chart of cities and counties that had prohibited abortion, as well as a letter signed by several state lawmakers urging local officials to adopt similar ordinances.

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • A Republican election clerk vs. Trump die-hards in a world of lies (New York Times)
  • Trump allies sue to allow election officials to refuse to certify results (Rolling Stone)
  • Election certification disputes in a handful of states spark concerns over presidential contest (Associated Press)
  • Gray urges Wyoming to ditch ballot drop boxes; clerks say they’re safe, legal (WyoFile)
  • Republican who refused to certify Georgia primary a member of election denialist group (Guardian)
  • Election deniers stop repeal of Louisiana’s burdensome voting machines law (Louisiana Illuminator)
  • Right-wing media company Salem apologizes, stops distributing 2020 election conspiracy film ‘2000 Mules’ after lawsuit (CNN)
  • Michigan 2020 election cases delayed as Biden-Trump rematch looms (Bridge Michigan)
Voting Rights
  • 100 years after citizenship, Indigenous peoples continue to fight to vote (News From the States)
  • Republicans slowly rev up poll monitoring operation ahead of election, but questions remain about its scope (NBC News)
  • How Arizona hopes to avoid a ‘nightmare’ if November ballot stretches to a second page (Votebeat)
  • How to decide when voter’s ballot isn’t properly filled out: Florida proposes new rules (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Florida Republicans moved to make vote by mail harder. It worked. (Politico)
  • Colorado will offer in-person voting behind bars in November (NBC News)
In the States
  • UT professors sue Biden administration over new Title IX abortion, gender identity rules (Austin American-Statesman)
  • In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, a push for more direct democracy (Texas Tribune)
  • The NRA’s Dallas convention center deal: $5k to rent space, a $482k discount and a $445k subsidy (KERA News)
  • Florida Supreme Court sides with DeSantis in fight with Democratic prosecutor (Politico)
National News
  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted gifts worth millions of dollars over 20 years, analysis finds (CNBC)
  • Lawmakers expensed millions in 2023 under new program that doesn’t require receipts (Washington Post)
  • Leader of conservative Federalist Society announces retirement (Washington Post)
LGBTQ Rights
  • Four proponents testify in support of Ohio drag ban bill — including a member of a hate group (Ohio Capital Journal)
  • Washington parental rights law criticized as a ‘forced outing’ measure is allowed to take effect (Associated Press)
  • Ninth Circuit appears skeptical of Montana’s drag ban (Daily Montanan)
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • States are already collecting more abortion data. And HIPAA won’t always keep it private. (News From the States)
  • Conservative attacks on birth control could threaten access (Washington Post)
  • Judge rules abortion drug can be taken at home in North Carolina (WUNC)
  • Conservatives tied to Trump want to limit insurance coverage for abortions (Washington Post)
Threats to Education
  • Billions in taxpayer dollars now go to religious schools via vouchers (Washington Post)
  • Trump elevates a conservative ‘warrior’ on education (New York Times)
  • Ohio Republican proposes bill that would defund libraries over materials government deems ‘harmful’ (Ohio Capital Journal)
  • Texas may pay schools to use curriculum critics call overtly Christian (Washington Post)
  • Bill on library book selection clears Assembly panel after four-hour hearing (New Jersey Monitor)
Civil Rights
  • ‘Cooking someone to death’: Southern states resist calls to add air conditioning to prisons (Politico)
  • Feds closed a prison notorious for abuse. Things only got worse (Rolling Stone)
  • Wisconsin warden and 8 staff members charged following probes into inmate deaths (Associated Press)
  • Parole plunges in South Carolina as governor-appointed board issues denial after denial (Bolts)
Government Transparency and Public Records Law
  • Quest for DeSantis’ travel records leads to 2-year delay, then denial (Orlando Sentinel)
  • Gov. Murphy signs bill revamping public records law, in blow to transparency advocates (New Jersey Monitor)
  • North Carolina Democrats propose constitutional amendment for public records access (NC Newsline)
  • Arizona voters will decide if local police can arrest people for crossing into the US from Mexico (Associated Press)
  • Migrants are rattled and unsure as deportations begin under new rule halting asylum (Associated Press)
Trump Accountability
  • Georgia appeals court pauses lower-court proceedings in Trump election case (Washington Post)
  • Michigan 2020 election cases delayed as Biden-Trump rematch looms (Bridge Michigan)
  • Multiple Trump witnesses have received significant financial benefits from his businesses, campaign (ProPublica)
  • DeSantis says Trump can still vote in Florida despite felony conviction (Politico)
  • The evidence that led to Trump’s hush money conviction (Washington Post)
Jan. 6 Investigations
  • Steve Bannon ordered to prison while he challenges his conviction for defying Jan. 6 committee (Politico)
  • After Jan. 6, Twitter banned 70,000 right-wing accounts. Lies plummeted. (Washington Post`)