LANSING, Michigan (AP) — The Michigan Attorney General is asking federal prosecutors to file criminal charges against 16 Republicans who filed false evidence that they were state electors despite Joe Biden’s 2020 victory of 154,000 votes.
Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said Thursday that her office has been evaluating the allegations for nearly a year but decided to refer the case to the US Attorney in western Michigan.
“According to state law, I believe you have a forged public record, which is a 14-year violation, and an election law forgery, which is a five-year violation,” she told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. But the Justice Department, she said, is best placed to investigate and potentially prosecute.
On Friday, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
Nessel spoke of a “coordinated effort” by Republican parties in several states, including Michigan, to promote so-called alternative voter rolls with forged documents. She said she wants federal authorities to evaluate possible charges.
“Obviously this is part of a much larger conspiracy,” Nessel said.
The American Oversight Watch Group last March received certifications submitted by Republicans in seven states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. New Mexico and Pennsylvania Republicans added the proviso that this was in case they were later recognized as properly elected and qualified voters.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, announced that he is turning his state’s case over to federal authorities, even though “state law proceedings are ongoing.”
“Electoral laws are the foundation of our democracy and must be respected,” he said.
On January 8, 2021, the Office of the Federal Register, which coordinates certain functions of the Electoral College between the states and Congress, notified Michigan Electoral Director and Governor General Counsel Gretchen Whitmer in an email that it had received informal signed certificates from the Republican Party. electors who were not nominated by the Democratic governor. The group includes Republican National Committee member Cathy Burden and Michonne Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party.
State Republican Party spokesman Gustavo Portela accused Nessel of sitting on information for a year and “playing political games with people’s lives and livelihoods for the sake of scoring political points before the elections.” The Associated Press left messages asking for comment on Burden and Maddock on Friday.
The office of Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson passed an email last month to the US House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising.
When Michigan voters cast 16 votes for Biden in December 2020 after confirming his victory with a score of 2.8 percentage points, a separate group, which included some members of the Republican House of Representatives, tried to enter the State Capitol along with Donald Trump’s Electoral College candidates. The state police turned them down, but the certificates claimed they met “at the State Capitol”.
Invalid certificates were also mailed to the US Senate, Benson, and federal court in western Michigan. Two Republicans did not sign the papers and were replaced.
Wisconsin is pending a complaint alleging that GOP voters in the swing state committed fraud by submitting false documents. Biden won Wisconsin with just under 21,000 votes, a result that has withstood recounts, lawsuits, and fraud investigations.
Complaints were filed with the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. Neither has publicly announced any retaliatory action. Another complaint against Andrew Hitt, an attorney who was chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party at the time, was filed with an agency that handles complaints against lawyers.
In Pennsylvania, Trump voters signed documents at the office of a Republican marketing consultant two blocks from the State Capitol. The state Republican Party said at the time that Trump’s electors met at the request of the campaign and called it a “conditional vote.”
Bernie Comfort, Trump’s chairman in Pennsylvania, said it was “procedural” in case the election is cancelled. She stated that it was “in no way an attempt to usurp or challenge the will of Pennsylvania’s voters,” though Trump and his allies at the time pressured lawmakers and the courts to do just that.
Contributions were made by Associated Press correspondents Scott Bauer of Madison, Wisconsin and Mark Levy of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.