LANSING, Michigan (Associated Press) — The Michigan attorney general is asking federal prosecutors to open a criminal investigation of 16 Republicans who filed fraudulent affidavits saying they were presidential electors to the state despite Joe Biden winning 154,000 votes in 2020.
Dana Nessel, a Democrat, revealed Thursday that her office had been assessing the charges for nearly a year, but decided to refer the matter to the US Attorney for Western Michigan.
“Under state law, I think you clearly have public record fraud, which is a 14-year offense, and election law fraud, which is a five-year offense,” MSNBC reporter Rachel Maddow said. But she said the Ministry of Justice is best suited to investigate and prosecute.
A spokesman for the US Attorney’s office declined to comment on Friday.
Nessl alleged a “coordinated effort” between Republican parties in several battlefield states, including Michigan, to push for so-called alternative voter lists with fraudulent documents. She said she wanted federal authorities to conduct an assessment of the possible charges.
“This is clearly part of a much larger conspiracy,” Nessel said.
American Watchdog, a watchdog group, last March obtained testimony given by Republicans in seven states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Republicans in New Mexico and Pennsylvania added a caveat saying that if they were later recognized as duly elected, eligible electors.
On January 8, 2021, the Office of the Federal Register — which coordinates certain Electoral College functions between states and Congress — notified Michigan election director and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s attorney in an email that he had received unofficial, GOP-signed affidavits. Voters who are not appointed by the Democratic Governor. The group includes Republican National Committee member Cathy Bearden and Michonne Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party.
There was no immediate comment from the Michigan Republican Party. The Associated Press left messages seeking comment from Berden and Maddock on Friday.
Last month, the office of Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson handed over the email to a US House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol.
When Michigan voters cast 16 votes for Biden in December 2020 after certifying his victory by 2.8 percentage points, a separate group that included some Republican state senators attempted to enter the state capitol with Donald Trump Electoral College candidates. They were rejected by state police but claimed in testimonies that they met “at the Capitol”.
Invalid certificates were also mailed to the US Senate, Benson and the Western Michigan Federal Court. Two Republicans did not sign the documents and were replaced.
There are pending complaints in Wisconsin alleging that Republican voters in that swing state committed fraud by submitting false papers. Biden won Wisconsin by just under 21,000 votes, a result that has withstood recounts, lawsuits and fraud investigations.
The complaints were submitted to the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. Neither of them has publicly announced any action taken in response. Another complaint against Andrew Heat, the attorney who was the Republican Party chair of Wisconsin at the time, was filed with the agency that deals with complaints against attorneys.
In Pennsylvania, Trump voters signed the documents at the office of a Republican marketing consultant two blocks from the state Capitol. The state’s Republican Party said at the time that Trump voters assembled at the campaign’s request, describing it as a “conditional vote.”
That’s “procedural” in the event the election is cancelled, Bernie Comfort, Pennsylvania’s state president, said. It was, she claimed, “in no way an attempt to usurp or challenge the will of Pennsylvania voters,” even though Trump and his allies were lobbying lawmakers and courts at the time to do just that.
Associated Press writers Scott Power in Madison, Wisconsin, and Mark Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania have contributed.