State grand jury indicts 18 in Arizona Republican fake elector investigation

Apr 24, 2024, 5:41 PM | Updated: May 28, 2024, 11:30 am

PHOENIX — A state grand jury indicted 18 people accused of taking part in a Republican fake elector scheme in Arizona, officials announced on Wednesday.

Eleven of the defendants were listed in the indictment, and seven names were redacted. The investigation took 13 months, Attorney General Kris Mayes said.

The fake elector accusations date back to the 2020 presidential election, where Republicans in seven states allegedly met and submitted false Electoral College certificates declaring Donald Trump as the president.

However, Biden won in all of those states — including Arizona.

Defendants in the indictment are Kelli Ward, Tyler Bowyer, Nancy Cottle, Jacob Hoffman, Anthony Kern, James Lamon, Robert Montgomery, Samuel Moorhead, Lorraine Pellegrino, Gregory Safsten and Michael Ward.

“These defendants deceived the citizens of Arizona,” Mayes said. “The scheme, had it succeeded, would have deprived Arizona’s voters of their right to have their votes counted for their chosen president. It would have effectively made their right to vote meaningless.”

The indictments made Arizona the fourth state to charge alleged fake electors.

“We are here because justice demands an answer to the efforts that the defendants and other unindicted co-conspirators allegedly took to undermine the will of Arizona’s voters during the 2020 presidential election,” Mayes said.

What did the people indicted in fake elector scheme investigation do?

The 11 named defendants met on Dec. 14, 2020, to sign a certificate falsely claiming they were “duly elected and qualified electors” and that Trump won in Arizona. The Arizona Republican Party posted video of the signing to social media that day.

Several of those indicted are high-profile members of the GOP. Kelli Ward was the Arizona Republican Party chair at the time, Hoffman and Kern are current state senators and Lamon ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2022.

Hoffman is chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, and Kern leads the Judiciary Committee. Hoffman’s position makes him a gatekeeper for virtually all election-related legislation.

Who are the people whose names are redacted in indictment?

While seven names are blacked out on the indictment, The Associated Press was able to identify five of them from details provided in the document as high-profile Trump allies.

They are former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows; attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Christina Bobb; and former campaign aide Mike Roman.

The Washington Post identified the other two as attorney Jenna Ellis and campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn.

What charges were in the fake elector indictment

Charges leveled against the defendants include fraud, forgery and conspiracy.

“Arizona’s election was free and fair. The people of Arizona elected president Biden,” Mayes said. “Unwilling to accept this fact, the defendants charged by the state grand jury allegedly schemed to prevent the lawful transfer of the presidency.”

She said their alleged scheme would have rendered Arizona voters’ ballots meaningless.

The defendants and their co-conspirators spread rumors of widespread voter fraud in Arizona, Mayes added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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State grand jury indicts 18 in Arizona Republican fake elector investigation