We learned months ago that Republicans in several states created forged election materials, pretending to be “duly elected and qualified electors,” and sent the documents to, among others, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Archivist, as if the fake materials were legitimate. They were not.
As regular readers know, among the unanswered questions is what kind of scrutiny the scheme — and those responsible for executing the plan — might receive.
The answer continues to come into sharper focus. The National Archives, for example, has its own investigatory team, which launched a review into at least part of the effort to submit forged materials to the institution. The Justice Department has confirmed that it’s “looking at” the matter, as part of an “ongoing” investigation. State attorneys general have also taken a keen interest in the scandal, as has the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
As of this morning, however, there’s also a civil component to this. NBC News reported:
Two members of the electoral college from Wisconsin filed a lawsuit Tuesday against 10 Republicans who claimed they were the duly elected presidential electors from the state in 2020, even though Joe Biden won the popular vote there. It appeared to be the first legal action against Republicans in the battleground states where supporters of former President Donald Trump sent in what they claimed were electoral votes for him, despite Biden’s statewide electoral victories.
NBC News’ report added that the litigation, filed in state court, argues that even though the Republicans were unsuccessful in having their alternate slate of electoral votes counted, “they caused significant harm simply by trying, and there is every reason to believe that they will try again if given the opportunity.”
The plaintiffs added, “Thus far ... none of the fraudulent electors has been held accountable. This lawsuit seeks to change that.”
In case anyone needs a refresher, the way in which the scheme unfolded in Wisconsin has long been of particular interest. It was on Dec. 14, 2020, when Wisconsin electors met in the state capitol for an official ceremony in which the state formally assigned its electors for the electoral college. There wasn’t anything unusual about this: On the same day, every state did this, with Trump electors being assigned in states won by the GOP ticket, and Biden electors being assigned in states won by the Democratic ticket.
But as we’ve discussed, the process in the Badger State was messier: While the actual electors were being assigned inside the state capitol in Madison, a group of Wisconsin Republicans quietly held a separate, fake ceremony — in the same capitol, at the same time — to cast electoral votes for Trump, despite his defeat in the state.
Today, a pair of real electors, backed by the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown and Law Forward, a public interest law firm in Madison, sued their 10 fake counterparts. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report added that the plaintiffs “want a judge to award all involved up to $200,000 apiece in damages to ensure the losing side in future elections doesn’t file official-looking paperwork with Congress claiming to be the winner.”
Watch this space.