Two Wisconsin electors are suing a group of Republicans, saying they posed as electors to cast illegitimate votes for then-President Donald Trump and to certify the 2020 election falsely in his favor, arguing the actions helped lead to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The lawsuit seeks damages against 10 Republicans the Electoral College delegates say were put on an unauthorized slate of electors to cast votes for Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence despite President Joe Biden’s victory in the state. The electors are seeking to prohibit the Republicans from serving as delegates in the future as well as force them to pay up to $200,000 in damages for reputational harm.
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“Trump’s reference to ‘the electors who have been lawfully slated’ is at the heart of this case,” the lawsuit says, referring to investigations into the Jan. 6 riot. “In the months following his loss on November 3, 2020, Trump and his allies developed a plan to overturn the election results by assembling slates of fraudulent presidential electors in select swing States where he had lost.”
The lawsuit is the first of its kind and may set the stage for future legal action in six other swing states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — where 84 Republicans attempted to present themselves as legitimate Electoral College delegates and overturn the results of the election. No criminal charges have been pressed against any of the fake electors, according to the suit.
The 10 Republicans in Wisconsin met on Dec. 14, 2020, as delegates of the Electoral College gathered in their respective states to certify the election, and tried to cast their votes for Trump and Pence, the suit alleges. Although they were unsuccessful, the electors argued the attempt set a dangerous precedent and laid the groundwork for violence at the Capitol just a month later as Congress met to certify the results.
“They did so even though they knew that Biden and Harris had won the election in Wisconsin; even though those results had been recounted and certified; and even though Trump and Pence had exhausted all available legal mechanisms for challenging the outcome,” the suit says. “The Wisconsin fraudulent electors and their counterparts in the other swing States purported to cast electoral votes for Trump and Pence because they hoped to lay the foundation for Pence and Congress to count their ballots on January 6, 2021, and to reject those cast by the real electors who had won the popular vote.”
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The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot has issued at least 20 subpoenas for illegitimate electors who sought to overturn the election, including Robert Spindell Jr., a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Two Republicans accused of posing as unauthorized delegates are on the ballot in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial primary on Tuesday: Lou Barletta and Charlie Gerow.
Biden defeated Trump in Wisconsin by just over 20,000 votes, a victory that was verified by a number of recounts. Trump’s campaign launched a series of state and federal lawsuits seeking to uncover voter fraud, but independent audits and investigations found there were no cases that would affect the outcome of the race.