Updated January 21, 2022 - 10:30 pm
If Nevada’s top law enforcement officer is investigating the state Republican Party’s 2020 plot to send illegitimate electoral votes to the nation’s capital in support of then-President Donald Trump, he isn’t saying so publicly.
Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement that his office received numerous inquiries about the attempt from some members of the state GOP to send fake electoral votes to Washington, D.C., following unfounded claims of massive voter fraud in the presidential 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,” he said.
Ford, a Democrat, said there has been a sustained effort to overturn the 2020 election and “downplay the shocking actions” that occurred 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.”
The attorney general’s comments came this week amid renewed national interest in the December 2020 plot to send competing electoral votes from states Trump lost to Washington for consideration in the congressional certification of the election.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Rudy Giuliani led an effort that spanned multiple states, including Nevada. Trump allies in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin also sent illegitimate electoral documents.
Republican electors in Pennsylvania and New Mexico sent certificates but specified that they were only to be considered if the election results were upended, the newspaper reported.
The plot has become a focus of a U.S. House bipartisan committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, and Democratic attorneys general from Michigan and New Mexico have asked federal prosecutors to investigate the electors, the newspaper reported.
A Trump spokesman declined to comment on the elector controversy.
State party chairman responds
Jim DeGraffenreid, national committeeman for the Nevada Republican Party, said that there was pending litigation at the time the GOP electors cast their votes and that the party needed to “go through those motions” in case the legal challenge to the election was successful.
In the Nevada GOP’s news release at the time, Chairman Michael McDonald released a statement that said “with ongoing challenges and evidence left to be meaningfully investigated,” his slate of electors had to submit votes for the rightful winners and allow Congress to decide.
On the day Congress was set to certify Biden’s win, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, delaying the process.
“Obviously I don’t think anybody saw what was going to take place or would ever in their wildest dreams assume that there would be any type of actions where someone would storm the Capitol and disrupt Congress in their votes,” McDonald said Friday. “Obviously, that was unforeseen circumstances.”
McDonald wouldn’t say whether he has heard from any law enforcement agencies. And asked whether he or DeGraffenreid had received direction from Giuliani, McDonald didn’t answer.
“What I gave you is our statement, and that’s as far as we can go,” he said.
McDonald said he was limited in what he could say, based on advice from an attorney.
Jesse Law, who joined McDonald in the effort, said descriptions of the attempt to send illegitimate electoral votes have been inaccurate but refused to offer what he sees as the correct version of the facts.
“I know what’s going on, but I’m not going to talk about any of it,” he said.
No evidence of massive fraud
The state Republican Party wasn’t shy about its efforts in 2020, when McDonald, Law and others gathered in Carson City to declare support for Trump on the same day legitimate electors cast legitimate votes for Joe Biden, who actually won the state.
“Today, the Nevada Republican Presidential Electors convened at the Nevada Legislative Building in our state’s capitol to cast their electoral votes for the rightful victors of Nevada, President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael Pence,” the party wrote in its news release. “These electoral votes will be sent to the United State’s (sic) Congress where they will be read on January 6th.”
On Friday, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office struck a sharp tone on the ploy to undermine Nevada’s legitimate electoral votes.
“While the Governor is not a lawyer, he believes if you file a document with blatantly false statements with a government agency, that is a crime, or ought to be a crime,” spokeswoman Meghin Delaney said.
Despite Republican claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, numerous lawsuits, audits and recounts have failed to show the election was fraudulent.
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, has said her office found no evidence to support claims of massive voter fraud, even after her staff examined boxes of complaints filed by Republicans.
Contact Blake Apgar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter. Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at email@example.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.