Kelli Ward chaired the Arizona Republican Party from 2019–23 and is a former state senator who served in office from 2013–15. As GOP chair during the 2020 election, she was heavily involved in the state’s fake electors scheme and since then has been the focus of Arizona’s criminal investigation into the scheme.
Ward has ties to right-wing billionaire and hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who was a major funder of a super PAC supporting her 2018 campaign. She is also affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing corporate bill mill that creates “model legislation” for implementation at the state level. In 2016, she ran an unsuccessful campaign against the late U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and in 2018 also failed to unseat former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
After the 2020 presidential election, Ward actively participated in Trump’s efforts to overturn the results. In addition to supporting a partisan “audit” of the Arizona election, she sued to overturn the results in Arizona and assisted in both creating a slate of fake electors to submit to Congress and serving as one herself.
January 6, 2021
- After a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and violently interrupted the Electoral College certification process underway, Ward tweeted, “Congress is adjourned. Send the elector choice back to the legislatures.”
- In February 2022 the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol subpoenaed Ward over her alleged role in submitting a slate of fake electors to Congress. She countersued and appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep the committee from accessing her phone and text messages.
- In June 2022, the Justice Department also issued a subpoena to Ward in conjunction with the “11 Arizona Republicans who met at the state party headquarters to falsely declare themselves the state’s official presidential electors,” according to AZ Mirror.
The Big Lie
- In the months after the November 2020 election, Ward worked with Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, to try to convince Maricopa County supervisors that significant voting irregularities had occurred despite lacking any evidence.
- For more than a year after the 2020 election, Ward spread disinformation via her social media accounts.
- On Oct. 28, 2021, she tweeted that “there must be a #Reckoning for those who stole an American election. Arrests. Prosecutions. Prison. #SaveAmerica.”
- On Dec. 27, 2021, she tweeted that “the 2020 ‘election’ already knocked us off the map as a role model for any country other than a banana republic or an installed dictatorship…”
- In September 2021, Ward was still making the same baseless claims, saying on Newmax: “We have no idea how many legal votes were counted in Arizona, so we don’t know who actually won the presidential election.”
- In April 2022, Ward admitted that her efforts to overturn the 2020 election would not reinstate Trump as president, but said that she would keep trying to do that anyway.
- In July 2022, Ward was behind the move to censure Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R ) for cooperating with the House Select Committee and for failing to do Trump’s bidding. She tweeted: “The @AZGOP Executive Committee formally censured Rusty Bowers tonight— he is no longer a Republican in good standing & we call on Republicans to replace him at the ballot box in the August primary.”
- Ward pushed for the partisan “audit” of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County, and then advocated for similar audits in every county in the state.
- In January 2022, Ward published a book titled Justified: The Story of America’s Audit, in which she claims to provide “real evidence of wrong doing [sic] and law breaking” in Arizona’s 2020 election.