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Nevada’s six fake electors indicted, AG Ford says

Updated December 7, 2023 - 7:17 pm

The six Republican electors who submitted fake certificates declaring Donald Trump the winner of Nevada in 2020 have been indicted, Attorney General Aaron Ford announced Wednesday.

The defendants were indicted by a grand jury in Clark County District Court and have been charged with offering a false instrument for filing and uttering forged instruments, the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

“Today’s indictments are the product of a long and thorough investigation, and as we enter into litigation, I am confident that our judicial system will see justice done,” Ford said in the statement.

The six Nevadans who were charged are Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald, Clark County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Law (who earlier Wednesday announced his run for Assembly), Republican National Committeeman Jim DeGraffenreid, Nevada GOP Vice Chairman Jim Hindle III, Shawn Meehan and Eileen Rice. All of the electors either declined to comment or did not return the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s requests.

After the 2020 election, the six electors gathered outside of the Nevada Legislature building on a cold December day to sign the certificates giving the state’s electoral votes to Trump — despite Joe Biden winning the Silver State by more than 30,000 votes.

The document titled “Certificate of the Votes of the 2020 Electors from Nevada” was sent to the president of the Senate, the archivist of the U.S., the Nevada secretary of state; and the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, according to the office of the attorney general.

That same day, however, Nevada’s real electors cast their Electoral College votes remotely, with then-Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske presiding, awarding the six votes to Biden.

The Nevada Republicans had joined GOP leaders in other battleground states in submitting the fake certificates, allegedly as part of a larger Trump-backed strategy across the country to keep the 45th president in power. It was a hope that Trump’s allies in Congress would use the certificates to delay or block the certification on Jan. 6, 2021.

Since then, attorneys general in other states, including Michigan and Georgia, pursued charges against their states’ “false electors,” using charges for forgery, racketeering or making false statements.

Ford had kept his cards close to his chest about what action he would take against the six Republicans, but the clock was ticking for him to act. The statute of limitations for a felony like forgery is three years after the offense, according to state law, which would be Dec. 14. It came to light he was investigating the electors in November.

Offering a false instrument for filing is a category C felony, which could result in one to five years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000, according to state law. Uttering a forged instrument is a category D felony, which could result in one to four years in prison and a fine of no more than $5,000. The charge “uttering a forged instrument” refers to knowingly passing off a forged document as real.

According to the indictments, witnesses included former Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro, who helped orchestrate Trump’s fake elector plot, National Archives Staff Attorney Miriam Vincent and Nevada Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Mark Wlaschin.

“When the efforts to undermine faith in our democracy began after the 2020 election, I made it clear that I would do everything in my power to defend the institutions of our nation and our state,” Ford said in the statement. “We cannot allow attacks on democracy to go unchallenged.

Ford was expected to hold a news conference about the indictments Thursday morning in Las Vegas, but it was canceled because of the UNLV shooting. The initial arraignment for the electors is scheduled for Dec. 18, according to court records.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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