Democrats are suddenly now attacking 11 Republican Arizona electors for choosing Donald Trump to receive Arizona’s electoral votes over a year ago, shortly after the 2020 presidential election. The Democrat-controlled U.S. House committee investigating the raucous protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 issued subpoenas on January 28 for some of the Republican electors in seven swing states that submitted both a Republican slate of electors along with a Democratic slate, including two Arizona Republicans.
A few of the electors have spoken up publicly in the last few days after it was made an issue, explaining they cast their votes believing Trump would prevail, since the election results were challenged in multiple lawsuits due to widespread belief there was voter fraud in Arizona and other swing states. The Arizona Sun Times reached out to several of them requesting comment, but they declined to respond, citing the legal risks.
Throughout the first couple of weeks in December 2020, it was not clear which way the courts were going to rule on the presidential election. Many Americans expected the outcome of the presidential race to be up in the air for a while, similar to the presidential race in 2000, which was not decided until the Supreme Court ruled on December 12 of that year. Both Time and Politico ran articles the month before the 2020 election speculating that the Supreme Court might end up deciding it. The Supreme Court continued to address briefs throughout December, including setting up a schedule to consider a petition Rudy Giuliani filed on December 20, 2020, to overturn the results of the Pennsylvania election.
At the time, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told a Fox News host in early to mid-December 2020, “in those four states we saw a lot of problems in with those big metro areas … there has been an alternate slate of electors voted upon that Congress will decide in January, so we will see what happens.” No one discussed at that time prosecuting the electors, who signed the Trump slate on December 14, 2020.
Since Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had already signed off on the results of the Arizona election on November 30, 2020, with Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, declaring Joe Biden the winner, and since the legal challenges went nowhere, the slate from the Arizona Republican electors had no effect. CNN said the electors’ slate was meaningless, “But it was for show. It was a PR stunt. … [It] served no legal purpose. Anyone can type out whatever they want in Microsoft Word, and make it look official with a signing ceremony. But that doesn’t make it real.”
However, the Democrat-controlled January 6 House committee subpoenaed two of Arizona’s electors, Nancy Cottle and Loraine Pellegrino of the Arizona Federation of Republican Women, on January 28 along with 12 other Republican electors from six other states. Cottle was listed as the chairperson of the electoral group and Pellegrino the secretary.
That committee has subpoenaed several Republican officials and associates of Donald Trump who were involved in the 2020 presidential election, and some of them have declined to participate. Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is one who refused to testify, and so the committee has referred him to the Justice Department demanding criminal charges.
Neither Ducey nor Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is investigating the electors. The Justice Department has said nothing about whether a crime was committed. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, investigated the Republican electors there who chose Trump, and concluded there was no forgery committed, leaving any further investigation to the DOJ.
According to MSNBC, all of the six states used similar language, with the Pennsylvania and New Mexico electors adding language qualifying their votes to say “if” a court ruled that Trump won. Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel isn’t even bothering to go after the Republican Michigan electors, punting any investigation to the DOJ.
Michael Ward, who was an elector along with his wife, Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, told Vice News, “We didn’t commit a crime. What we did was submit an alternate slate of electors in the open. We didn’t do it secretly. We put out a press release that we did it. We did this a year ago December. So why are they bringing it up now? Because they’re trying to tie it all to the Trump campaign.”
State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), another elector, told 12 News, “In unprecedented times, unprecedented action is occurring. There is no case law, there is no precedent that exists as to whether or not an election that is currently being litigated has due standing, which is why we felt it appropriate to provide Congress and the vice president with dueling opinions.”
Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Jim Lamon, also an elector, explained during KTVK-TV’s “Politics Unplugged” program, “The Republican electors put forth a valid document that said, in the event that the election certification was overturned, there would be no excuse not to recognize those electors.”
Brnovich is still investigating the results of the independent Maricopa County ballot audit of the 2020 election, which found there may have been massive fraud. A response from Maricopa County officials earlier this month to the audit left more questions than answers. The Arizona Legislature is taking significant action this year to combat election fraud, advancing seven election integrity bills out of the Senate Government Committee last week. A Rasmussen poll from last fall found that 56% of Americans believe it’s likely that cheating influenced the 2020 presidential election.
– – –
Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “People Voting” by Wyofile Wyofile. CC BY 2.0.