Newsletter: Indictments for Arizona Fake Electors and Others

Arizona on Wednesday became the fourth state — after Michigan, Georgia, and Nevadato pursue charges against individuals who signed false electoral certificates in support of former President Trump in 2020.

  • The indictments came in Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes’ investigation of the scheme to replace the valid electors in seven swing states with fraudulent certificates claiming their respective states had been won by Trump — and in the process overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss. 
  • In total, 18 people were indicted on felony charges: the 11 fake electors and seven Trump allies, including Christina Bobb — recently named the Republican National Committee’s “election integrity” lawyer — as well as Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Mark Meadows, and Jenna Ellis.

“The Arizona Attorney General’s indictments are a vital step in holding accountable those who sought to interfere in the foundations of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power and the right to vote,” American Oversight’s interim Executive Director Chioma Chukwu said. 

  • “American Oversight’s investigations have revealed the extent to which the election denial movement has evolved since the failed electors plot, and how several of those indicted — including the RNC’s top ‘election integrity’ lawyer — remained integral to efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 election long after Jan. 6.”

We first obtained the fake electoral certificates in 2021, and through our investigations of the election denial network have uncovered documents related to several of those who were indicted.

  • Among Arizona’s 11 fake electors are former Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward, state Sens. Jake Hoffman and Anthony Kern, and Tyler Bowyer, the chief operating officer of Turning Point Action, a far-right group that has pushed false claims of election fraud.
  • The names of the seven others who were charged were redacted from the indictment, but public reporting has found that in addition to those named above, they also include Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn and former Trump campaign aide Michael Roman.

Several of the same people were also indicted in Georgia’s election interference case. A guide to public records obtained by American Oversight that shed light on the election denial activities of the Georgia defendants and the unindicted co-conspirators in the Justice Department’s election case is available here.

  • Records we’ve obtained help illustrate how Bobb, a former Trump attorney and conservative television presenter, played a major role in the fake-electors scheme and supported partisan election investigations in Arizona and Wisconsin.
  • Bobb frequently communicated with Arizona “audit” leaders, and in August 2021 asked to share Arizona Senate President Karen Fann’s contact information with attorney Michael Gableman, who at the time was conducting the Wisconsin Assembly’s bogus election investigation.
  • In addition to information about Giuliani’s early influence in the effort to dig up supposed evidence of fraud in Arizona, our investigation also uncovered documents showing that Fann appeared to have spoken with Eastman in December 2020 about his theory that the Constitution allowed state lawmakers to interfere with the selection of presidential electors.
  • We’ve also uncovered documents related to Roman’s involvement in the “audit,” and Meadows’ visits to Georgia during the 2020 recount.

Meanwhile, there were also new developments in the Michigan attorney general’s fake electors investigation, where 16 had been indicted in July. During testimony on Wednesday, an investigator said Trump was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. (He is in Arizona, too.)

Supreme Court Hears Trump Immunity Claim
On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard arguments over Trump’s claim that he has sweeping presidential immunity from criminal prosecution. The claims — rejected in February by a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court — were not only alarming for their authoritarian implications, but also a bid to delay trial in the federal election interference case against him. 

  • That trial was originally scheduled to begin in March, but was postponed indefinitely in February to allow for the immunity question to be resolved. The Supreme Court appears likely to reject Trump’s sweeping claims, but with conservative justices raising concerns that will probably delay the trial until after the election.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas — who is married to conservative activist and election denier Ginni Thomasdid not recuse himself from the case. We previously obtained an email Ginni Thomas sent to top Trump DHS appointee Ken Cuccinelli regarding conspiracy theories ahead of the 2020 election.

On the Records

Investigating State Support for Anti-Abortion Centers
American Oversight is using public records requests to investigate political and taxpayer support for anti-abortion centers (sometimes called “crisis pregnancy centers”), which seek to dissuade pregnant people from having abortions. The centers have received increased support from state governments since the fall of Roe v. Wade.

  • The centers often operate as volunteer-staffed nonprofit or religious organizations that integrate their anti-abortion rights agenda into the services they offer, which generally include only pregnancy tests and counseling.
  • Abortion-rights advocates have claimed that the facilities spread misinformation about pregnancy and abortion, and have raised concerns that the limited care offered by anti-abortion centers may increasingly be the only option accessible to some pregnant people.
  • Many anti-abortion centers are also affiliated with or funded by right-wing groups that support anti-abortion rights legislation, and health departments in some Republican-led states have contracted with anti-abortion center networks to administer “alternatives to abortion” programs.
  • American Oversight has filed several public records requests seeking information that could shed light on how states are propping up these centers. Read more about our ongoing investigation into threats to abortion access here.

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • A crush of lawsuits over voting in multiple states is creating a shadow war for the 2024 election (Associated Press)
  • Republicans scrutinize voting rolls and ramp up for mass challenges ahead of election (Michigan Advance)
  • Brazos elections officials shoulder new costs and burdens to appease skeptics (Votebeat)
  • A sheriff, a felon and a conspiracy theorist walk into a hotel. They’re there for the same conference. (NBC News)
  • In one Texas county, elections officials shoulder new costs and burdens to appease skeptics (Texas Tribune)
Voting Rights
  • Inside the private company Maricopa County depends on to power through the last-minute ballot slog (Votebeat)
  • Arkansas panel bans electronic signatures on voter registration forms (Associated Press)
  • Voter laws in Wyoming are creating a rift between state’s governor, secretary of state (USA Today)
  • Pennsylvania’s redesigned mail ballot envelopes trip up many voters who left date incomplete (Votebeat)
  • Cash-strapped election offices have fewer resources after bans on private grants (Wisconsin Examiner)
  • Judge: Tennessee’s voter registration process for felons violates federal law (Tennessean)
  • US court asked to reconsider ruling upholding DeSantis’ quashing of Black congressional seat (Florida Phoenix)
LGBTQ Rights
  • Texas politics leave transgender foster youth isolated — during and after life in state care (Texas Tribune)
  • Gov. Greg Abbott suggests he wants to bar transgender teachers from dressing in line with their gender identity (Texas Tribune)
  • New federal rule bars transgender school bathroom bans, but it likely isn’t the final word (Associated Press)
  • The ‘radical feminist’ group helping push Ohio’s trans bathroom ban (Ohio Capital Journal)
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • Arizona House votes to repeal Civil War-era abortion ban (Washington Post)
  • Watchdog group asks 5 attorneys general to investigate crisis pregnancy center privacy practices (NBC News)
  • California plans to allow Arizona doctors to provide abortions across state lines (Axios)
  • Idaho doctor who worked at closed maternity ward says abortion ban harmed recruiting (Utah News Dispatch)
  • Tennessee would criminalize helping minors get abortions under bill heading to governor (Associated Press)
  • New reporting requirements for life-saving abortions worry some doctors (Texas Tribune)
Threats to Education
  • Iowa sets aside almost $180 million for year two of voucher program (Iowa Starting Line)
  • UT Austin DEI layoffs disproportionately affected women and Black staffers, records show (Houston Chronicle)
Civil Rights
  • Senators demand accounting of rapid closure plan for California prison where women were abused (Associated Press)
Government Transparency and Public Records Laws
  • ‘Vexatious’ no more, Colorado public records bill loses controversial section (Colorado Public Radio)
  • Arkansas group pushes for constitutional right to transparency (Axios)
  • Texas school districts violated a law intended to add transparency to local elections (Texas Tribune/ProPublica)
  • Migration’s human toll overwhelms a border county in Texas (Washington Post)
  • Migrant apprehensions are down at the Texas border. Have state policies had an impact? (Texas Tribune)
  • Senate committee adds anti-immigration sanctions targeting Kansas City to Missouri budget (Missouri Independent)
  • Alabama House committee approves immigration detention bill (Alabama Reflector)
Trump Accountability
  • Trump campaign recognized legal risks of false electors, still went forward (Detroit News)
  • Two big court dates for Donald Trump, but he can attend only one (Politico)
  • Trump brothers Eric and Don Jr. emerge as loyalty czars (Axios)
  • By looking to future, Supreme Court may push Trump’s DC trial past election (Washington Post)
  • ‘Wreak havoc’: New GOP head urged staffer to inundate Black group with Trump calls in 2020 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
  • Trump moves to dismiss two counts in Fulton election indictment (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)