Michigan AG is asking the Department of Justice to investigate fake GOP state voters

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan’s Attorney General asks federal prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into 16 Republicans who submitted false certificates stating that they were the state’s presidential candidate despite Joe Bidens 154,000 vote victory in 2020.

Dana Nessel, a Democrat, revealed Thursday that her office had been assessing charges for nearly a year, but decided to refer the case to U.S. Attorney in Western Michigan.

“Under state law, I clearly believe you have forgery of a public record, which is a 14-year-old offense, and electoral forgery, which is a five-year offense,” she told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. But the Justice Department, she said, is best placed to investigate and potentially prosecute.

The spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment Friday.

Nessel claimed a “coordinated effort” among Republican parties in several battlefield states, including Michigan, to push so-called alternative voter lists with fake documents. She said she wants federal authorities to conduct an evaluation for possible charges.

“Obviously, this is part of a much larger conspiracy,” Nessel said.

Last March, American Oversight, a watchdog group, obtained certificates submitted by Republicans in seven states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Republicans from New Mexico and Pennsylvania added a warning saying it was done in case they were later recognized as duly elected, qualified voters.

On January 8, 2021, the Office of the Federal Register – which coordinates certain functions in the Electoral College between states and Congress – notified Michigan Electoral Director and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Chief Attorney in an email that it received unofficial, signed certificates from GOP voters who did not had been appointed by the Democratic governor. The group includes Republican National Committee woman Kathy Berden and Meshawn Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

The Michigan GOP had no immediate comment. The Associated Press left messages to seek comments from Berden and Maddock on Friday.

Last month, Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office emailed a U.S. House committee investigates the Capitol uprising on 6 January.

When Michigan’s voters cast 16 votes on Biden in December 2020, following the certification of his 2.8 percentage point victory, a separate group that included some members of the Republican state House tried to enter the state capital with Donald Trump’s candidates for the Electoral College. They were rejected by state police, but claimed in the certificates that they met “in the State Capitol.”

The invalid certificates were also sent to the U.S. Senate, Benson, and the federal court in western Michigan. Two Republicans did not sign the documents and were replaced.

There are pending complaints in Wisconsin claiming that GOP voters in that swing state committed fraud by submitting the fake paperwork. Biden won Wisconsin by nearly 21,000 votes, a result that has withstood retellings, lawsuits and fraud investigations.

Complaints have been filed with the Wisconsin Electoral Commission and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. None of them have publicly announced any action taken in response. Another complaint against Andrew Hitt, a lawyer who was chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party at the time, has been filed with the agency that handles complaints against lawyers.

In Pennsylvania, Trump voters signed the documents at an office of a Republican marketing consultant two blocks from the state capital. The state Republican Party said at the time that Trump voters met at the request of the campaign and described it as a “conditional vote”.

Bernie Comfort, Trump’s president of Pennsylvania, said it was “procedural” if the election was overturned. She argued that it was “in no way an attempt to rob or challenge the will of Pennsylvania voters,” although Trump and his allies at the time pressured lawmakers and courts to do just that.

Associated Press writers Scott Bauer of Madison, Wisconsin, and Marc Levy of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed.

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