Arizona’s ‘fake elector’ plot focus of federal criminal investigation

The group of Republican fake electors created their own certificate of the election and sent it...
The group of Republican fake electors created their own certificate of the election and sent it to Washington, D.C.(Arizona Republican Party)
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 3:55 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The event was dubbed on social media as “The Signing” -- 11 Arizona Republicans gathered around a table in December 2020 to put forth a so-called fake set of electors stating Donald Trump had won the state’s electoral votes. Events surrounding “The Signing” have now turned into a focus of a federal investigation, according to grand jury subpoenas issued to two state senators.

The subpoenas sent to Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann and state Sen. Kelly Townsend are requesting documents related to “a criminal investigation being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office.” Arizona’s Family obtained the subpoenas following a records request to the state Senate upon learning of the subpoenas in late June.

The subpoenas reflect what investigators might be looking at when it comes to investigating the 2020 election and efforts by some states, including Arizona, to circumvent the actual election results and put forward a so-called fake slate of electors.

Investigators are requesting a slew of communications from Fann and Townsend related to the certification of the 2020 election and any document(s) relating to the signing or mailing of a document alleging to be a certificate of electors for Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

The subpoena, in its two pages of items requested, asks for communications Fann and Townsend received from any member of the executive or legislative branch, the Trump campaign and 12 listed individuals. Among those people include Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, who advised then-President Trump following the election, and Trump advisers Bernard Kerik, Boris Epshteyn and Jenna Ellis.

The investigators are also searching for documents and communications between the senators and the slate of electors involved in “The Signing” that submitted a certification indicating the state was certifying its eleven electoral votes for Trump and Pence. Paul Charlton is a former United States Attorney in Arizona. He said it appears that prosecutors have not decided who, if anyone, they are going to charge. “What is right about this subpoena is it doesn’t indicate whether these people who are listed in this subpoena are simply there because they may be witnesses to facts or whether they are targets of the investigation,” Charlton said.

He said Fann and Sen. Townsend do not appear to be targets of this investigation but that prosecutors believe she may have documents or information that could help them build their case. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Jack Wilenchik, a Phoenix lawyer, helped organize the fake electors with Boris Epshteyn, an adviser for Trump.

The Times obtained emails from Wilenchik told Epshteyn, “We would just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to Pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the ‘fake’ votes should be counted.” In another email, Wilenchik said, “‘alternative’ votes is probably a better tern than ‘fake’ votes,” with a smiley face emoji added. Read more from the New York Times here.

The fake electors include current State Rep. Jake Hoffman, former state Rep. Anthony Kern, current candidate for U.S. Senate Jim Lamon, current Arizona GOP Chair Dr. Kelli Ward and her husband Michael, and Tyler Bowyer, who is the chief operating officer at Arizona-based Turning Point USA. Also at the meeting of assembled Republican electors and named in the subpoena is Thomas Lane, who was a campaign official for the Trump campaign. Kelli Ward had been previously subpoenaed in June related to the fake electors’ plan.

Federal investigators also requested documents showing the email accounts, social media accounts and telephone numbers both state senators used from October 2020 to the present date.