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Arizona Fake Electors

About

Eleven Republican residents of Arizona attempted to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election by submitting fake Electoral College documents to Congress as part of the Jan. 6, 2021 certification process. The group did so in conjunction with similar fake elector schemes in Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

According to the Arizona Mirror, on Dec. 14, 2020 the 11 fake electors mailed signed, notarized certificates to Congress and the National Archives purporting to be official Electoral College votes for Trump. The fake electors from Arizona include an Arizona state representative, a former state representative who was then running to become a state senator, and a candidate for the U.S. Senate. The Department of Justice subpoenaed several of the fake electors for their role in the scheme. Arizona state law prohibits electors from casting votes for candidates other than the declared winner of the election in the state.

In April 2024, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) indicted all 11 fake electors on charges of conspiracy, fraud, and forgery related to keeping the former president (who is named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case) in office despite his loss at the polls. These include Kelli Ward, a former state Republican chairwoman; Jake Hoffman, a state senator chosen in 2024 by the Arizona GOP to serve on the Republican National Committee; and Anthony Kern, a state senator who won in 2022 with Trump’s endorsement and is running in the GOP primary for a U.S. House seat in 2024.

In December 2023, a CNN analysis based on audio interviews from state investigations found that the fake electors scheme played a pivotal role in keeping Trump’s hope of overturning the election results alive. CNN reported that at a December 2020 meeting, lawyers briefing Trump were told to put a damper on his hopes of the fake elector scheme. However, legal advisor “Kenneth Chesebro deviated from the plan” and “told Trump he could still prevail in Arizona.”

Politico reported that on Dec. 13, 2020, Christina Bobb, then a One America News anchor and subsequently a legal representative for the former president, briefed a group of Trump’s lawyers on the scheme.

January 6, 2021

  • Fake elector Anthony Kern participated in the mob attack on the Capitol and lied about the level of his involvement.

The Big Lie

  • The following 11 fake electors from Arizona signed bogus documents claiming that Trump had won the 2020 election in their state:
    • Tyler Bowyer: COO of Turning Point USA, a conservative activist organization, and Arizona’s former national committeeman on the Republican National Committee (RNC). In February 2024, he called on the RNC to “immediately indemnify” the 84 Republicans in various states who participated in what he refers to as the “contingent elector plan.” 
    • Nancy Cottle: vice president of programs for the Arizona Federation of Republican Women. She also has ties to other Republican groups and was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice for her role in the scheme.
    • Jake Hoffman: a former Arizona state representative and now senator who formerly ran Rally Forge, a digital marketing company that was banned from Facebook for paying teens to share conservative social media posts on behalf of Turning Point. According to  The Verge, Hoffman’s political advertising firm 1TEN received millions from an anonymous donor to support Trump-backed election conspiracy theory advocate Kari Lake in the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial race, which she lost. On Jan. 5, 2021, Hoffman wrote a letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence asking him to “to order that Arizona’s electors not be decided by the popular vote of the citizens, but instead by the members of the state Legislature.” In April 2024, the state GOP selected Hoffman as one of its two new representatives on the Republican National Committee.
    • Anthony Kern: a former Arizona state representative who won his bid for state senator in 2022 with Trump’s endorsement and in 2024 is running in the GOP primary for a U.S. House; also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Kern participated in the insurrection, promoted it on social media, and was “photographed in a restricted area on the Capitol steps during the riot.” 
    • Jim Lamon: a 2022 candidate for U.S. Senate who lost in the GOP primary
    • Robert Montgomery: a former chair of the Cochise County Republican Committee
    • Samuel I. Moorhead: the second vice chair of the Gila County Arizona Republican Party
    • Loraine B. Pellegrino: a former president of Ahwatukee Republican Women, she was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice for her role in the scheme
    • Greg Safsten: a former executive director of the Republican Party of Arizona, with ties to U.S. representatives from Arizona
    • Kelli Ward: chair of the Arizona Republican Party from 2019–23, former Arizona state senator, and an American Legislative Exchange Council member who was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice for her role in the scheme
    • Michael Ward: Kelli’s husband, who was accused of spitting in the eye of a former campaign volunteer for his wife and was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice for his role in the fake electors scheme
  • The Wards, Rep. Kern, Hoffman, and Bowyer were the five fake electors identified by a CNN investigation as the most vocal, public, and vehement in their attempts to pressure Vice President Pence to refuse to certify Arizona’s Democratic elector slate.

Election Audits

  • According to the States Newsroom, fake elector Kelli Ward filed a number of lawsuits to attempt to nullify Arizona’s election results. She also unsuccessfully sued to ban mail-in voting in Arizona.