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Michigan charges 16 fake electors for Donald Trump with election law and forgery felonies

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//July 19, 2023//

Michigan charges 16 fake electors for Donald Trump with election law and forgery felonies

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//July 19, 2023//

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Michigan fake electors
FILE Photo- A protester waves a Trump flag during rally organized by a group called Election Integrity Fund and Force at the Michigan State Capitol, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Lansing, Mich. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged 16 Republicans Tuesday, July 18, 2023, with multiple felonies after they are alleged to have submitted false certificates stating they were the state’s presidential electors despite Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in 2020. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

By Steve Schuster

[email protected]

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced felony charges Tuesday against 16 Michigan residents for their role in the alleged false electors scheme following the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The charged defendants are:

  • Kathy Berden, 70, of Snover
  • William (Hank) Choate, 72, of Cement City
  • Amy Facchinello, 55, of Grand Blanc
  • Clifford Frost, 75, of Warren
  • Stanley Grot, 71, of Shelby Township
  • John Haggard, 82, of Charlevoix
  • Mari-Ann Henry, 65, of Brighton
  • Timothy King, 56, of Ypsilanti
  • Michele Lundgren, 73, of Detroit
  • Meshawn Maddock, 55, of Milford
  • James Renner, 76, of Lansing
  • Mayra Rodriguez, 64, of Grosse Pointe Farms
  • Rose Rook, 81, of Paw Paw
  • Marian Sheridan, 69, of West Bloomfield
  • Ken Thompson, 68, of Orleans
  • Kent Vanderwood, 69, of Wyoming

Each defendant has been charged with:

  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Forgery, a 14-year felony,
  • Two counts of Forgery, a 14-year felony,
  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Uttering and Publishing, a 14-year felony,
  • One count of Uttering and Publishing, a 14-year felony,
  • One count of Conspiracy to Commit Election Law Forgery, a 5-year felony, and,
  • Two counts of Election Law Forgery, a 5-year felony.

“The false electors’ actions undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan,” said Nessel.

Meanwhile across Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Department of Justice officials say while they can’t confirm or deny a similar investigation, they take election subversion seriously.

“The Wisconsin Department of Justice generally does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, except in unique public safety circumstances. Attorney General Kaul strongly believes that those who committed crimes in an effort to unlawfully subvert the outcome of an election should be held accountable,” said Gillian Drummond, Director of Communications with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Back in Michigan, officials say they have a track record for prosecution of election law violations.

“My department has prosecuted numerous cases of election law violations throughout my tenure, and it would be malfeasance of the greatest magnitude if my department failed to act here in the face of overwhelming evidence of an organized effort to circumvent the lawfully cast ballots of millions of Michigan voters in a presidential election,” Nessel added.

According to Nessel, these defendants are alleged to have met covertly in the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters on December 14, and signed their names to multiple certificates stating they were the “duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America for the State of Michigan.” These false documents were then transmitted to the United States Senate and National Archives in a coordinated effort to award the state’s electoral votes to the candidate of their choosing, in place of the candidates actually elected by the people of Michigan.

“The evidence will demonstrate there was no legal authority for the false electors to purport to act as ‘duly elected presidential electors’ and execute the false electoral documents,” Nessel said.

“Every serious challenge to the election had been denied, dismissed, or otherwise rejected by the time the false electors convened. There was no legitimate legal avenue or plausible use of such a document or an alternative slate of electors. There was only the desperate effort of these defendants, who we have charged with deliberately attempting to interfere with and overturn our free and fair election process, and along with it, the will of millions of Michigan voters. That the effort failed and democracy prevailed does not erase the crimes of those who enacted the false electors plot,” Nessel added.

Each defendant, or their attorneys, have been notified of the charges and the court will provide each with a date to appear before the 54-A District Court in Ingham County for arraignment, Michigan DOJ officials noted.

According to authorities, this remains an ongoing investigation, and the Michigan Department of Attorney General has not ruled out potential charges against additional defendants. Each of the 16 charged defendants will next appear in 54-A District Court in Ingham County for individual arraignments. No dates have yet been set by the court for subsequent proceedings.

John Haggard who was among those charged told The Detroit News and on Tuesday said he didn’t do anything wrong.

“Did I do anything illegal? No,” Haggard said.

However, what the fake electors allegedly did undermines our democracy, Nessel said.

“The democratic process calls for us as citizens to respect the will of the majority and allow for a peaceful transfer of power,” Nessel said during Tuesday’s speech.

The Associated Press reported, Michigan Sen. Ed McBroom (Republican), who chaired a GOP-led Senate panel to investigate Michigan’s 2020 presidential election that found no wrongdoing, said he previously spoke with one of the fake electors. It was clear, McBroom said, that the effort was organized by “people who put themselves in a position of authority and posing themselves as the ones who knew what they were doing.”

“They were wrong,” McBroom told The Associated Press. “And other people followed them when they shouldn’t have.”

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