by April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current
January 19, 2022
The U.S. House select committee on the Jan. 6 insurrection is renewing interest in an illegitimate election certificate submitted by a group of Nevada Republicans following the 2020 presidential election.
The illegitimate election document, which was submitted to Congress and the National Archives, attempted to award Nevada’s six electoral votes to Republicans Donald Trump and Mike Pence. In reality, Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won Nevada by more than 30,600 votes, and no proof of widespread voter fraud has been found.
Similar fake electoral certificates were crafted and sent in six other states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The documents were first obtained and publicized by the watchdog group American Oversight in March 2021. They are receiving renewed interest following recent reports that U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is looking into the documents as evidence of a possible coordinated conspiracy involving the Trump administration itself.
“Looking at the certificates, there were striking similarities in the language and the formatting between many of them that … points to this not being an original idea,” says Clark Pettig, spokesperson for American Oversight. “These certificates matter because they show in black and white just how far allies of the former president were prepared to go to subvert our democracy. It’s shocking to see it there on the page.”
The Nevada Republican Party publicized their illegitimate signing, which occurred outside the Legislative Building in Carson City on Dec. 14, 2020 — the same day the legitimate signing was held virtually.
“Our brave electors standing up for what is right and casting their electoral votes for Donald Trump,” read a social media post. “We believe in fair elections and will continue the fight against voter fraud in the Silver State.”
That December 2020 signing event was largely panned and ignored as a publicity stunt with no legal merit, but the submission of the document and the similarities between the different states’ documents are now raising questions, particularly in light of the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack that happened less than one month later.
The Republican electors who signed Nevada’s phony document were Michael J. McDonald, James DeGraffenreid, Duward James Hindle III, Jesse Law, Shawn Meehan and Eileen Rice.
McDonald was then, and still remains, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party. Hindle is vice chairman and DeGraffenreid is a national committeeman. Law is a former Trump campaign employee who more recently was involved in a splintering of the Clark County Republican Party. Meehan and Rice are associated with the Douglas County Republican Central Committee.
The illegitimate election certification documents from New Mexico and Pennsylvania included language making their claims less brazen. New Mexico’s letter read “on the understanding that it might later be determined that we are the duly elected and qualified Electors…” suggesting the document’s validity was contingent upon proving claims of election fraud.
But Nevada’s version did no such tapering. It begins by outright claiming that the six Republicans are “the duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America from the State of Nevada.”
In reality, the Nevada Supreme Court certified the election for Biden and Harris on Nov. 24 and the legitimate electors were those selected by the Nevada Democratic Party. They were Yvanna Cancela, Artemisa Blanco, Gabrielle D’Ayr, Sarah Mahler, Joseph Throneberry and Judith Whitmer.
Nevada’s legitimate certificate of vote can be viewed here.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, has asked federal prosecutors to investigate the 16 fraudulent signees in their state. Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes.
“It’s clear to me that this was not independent rogue actors that were unknowingly doing the same thing as they had done in many other states,” Michigan Advance reported Nessel as saying. “From a jurisdictional standpoint, we think it’s important because it allows for the federal authorities to determine if there was a conspiracy that was a multi-state conspiracy.”
Similarly, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, also a Democrat, said in a statement that his office has “referred this matter to the appropriate federal law-enforcement authorities and will provide any assistance they deem necessary.”
Biden won New Mexico by more than 99,700 votes, or a full 11 percentage points.
In Wisconsin, two lawyers have filed a complaint with the state’s elections commission and laid out areas of criminal law they believe were violated, including forgery, falsely assuming to act as a public officer, misconduct in office and “likely engaging in conspiracy to commit criminal acts.”
When asked by the Current whether his office is investigating the fraudulent election certificate submitted here, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office responded with this statement: “Our office has received numerous inquiries regarding some members of the state GOP attempting to award fake electoral votes to former President Donald Trump after the 2020 election. While we cannot confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, rest assured that this matter is on our radar, and we take seriously any efforts to rob Nevadans of their votes. There has been a sustained effort to invalidate the 2020 election and to downplay the shocking actions that took place afterward. My office cannot and will not accept any efforts to overturn a free and fair election. Voting rights are fundamental to our democratic republic, and we will continue to protect them.”
Ford has been outspoken about the threat of the GOP to democracy in general. On the eve of the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, Ford joined other Democratic attorneys general to highlight what they called “continued attempts to undermine election results.”
In addition to McDonald and other state party leaders being involved with the fraudulent certification document, many prominent Republicans in Nevada have made unproven and disproven election fraud claims a central part of their political campaigns. They include Adam Laxalt, who pushed Trump’s Big Lie in Nevada and is now the frontrunner to challenge Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and Jim Marchant, who falsely claimed he was the victim of election fraud after losing to Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford and is now running for secretary of state.
The Nevada Republican Party did not respond to the Current’s request for comment on the possibility of an investigation into the fraudulent election certificate.
The legitimate election documents.
Wisconsin Examiner Deputy Editor Melanie Conklin contributed to this report. Wisconsin Examiner is one of Nevada Current’s sister publications.
Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected] Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.