Three years later, Nevada’s fake electors get indicted
April Corbin Girnus
(Nevada Current) Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford on Wednesday announced the indictment of six Republicans who served as fake electors after the 2020 presidential election.
Ford, a Democrat, had previously suggested no charges would be brought against the group of Republicans for attempting to award Nevada’s electoral college votes to former President Donald Trump despite his clear loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Their actions were part of a coordinated attempt made by the Trump re-election campaign and allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election — actions believed to directly lead to the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The six people indicted by an Eighth Judicial District Court grand jury include Nevada State Republican Party chair Michael McDonald and Clark County Republican Party chair Jesse Law, who this week announced a run for Nevada State Assembly.
Also indicted was Jim DeGraffenreid, a Nevada State Republican National Committeeman who in October was summoned for testimony in a Georgia trial for two former Trump lawyers accused of racketeering and conspiracy, among other charges. Both of those attorneys reached plea agreements in exchange for agreeing to testify against Trump.
The remaining three indicted are: Durward James Hindle III, Shawn Meehan and Eileen Rice.
The Republicans are being charged with offering a false instrument for filing, a category C felony, and uttering a forged instrument, a category D felony. The false instrument in question is a “Certificate of the Votes of the 2020 Electors from Nevada” intended to be filed, registered or recorded with the president of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Archivist, the Nevada Secretary of State, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
The illegitimate document was signed outside the Legislative Building in Carson City on Dec. 14. 2020. The Nevada Republican Party publicized it.
At the time, the event was panned and largely ignored as a publicity stunt with no legal merit, but the submission of the document and the similarities between documents prepared in other battleground states raised questions and prompted an investigation by a special U.S. House committee.
Emails and documents submitted as part of the House Select Committee investigating January 6 included several direct communications indicating Nevada’s fake electors knew that sending an alternate presidential electoral certificate to Congress was a violation of state law.
As the role of the fake electors became more prominent, Ford was largely mum on the potential for criminal charges against the fake electors, saying repeatedly that his office does not comment on investigations.
Then, in May, Ford told state lawmakers that his office “ascertained that current state statutes did not directly address the conduct in question — to the dismay of some, and I’m sure, to the delight of others.”
Ford made the comments during a legislative hearing for a bill to outlaw fake electors in Nevada was presented during this year’s legislative session.
That bill, SB 133, was passed by Democrats in the Nevada State Legislature but was vetoed by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo.
“We cannot allow attacks on democracy to go unchallenged,” said Ford in a statement Wednesday. “Today’s indictments are the product of a long and thorough investigation, and as we pursue this prosecution, I am confident that our judicial system will see justice done.”
Nevada’s fake electors remain at the heart of Nevada Republican politics. The McDonald-chaired state party has objected to Nevada’s statutorily required presidential preference primary on Feb. 6, and is instead orchestrating a party-run caucus on Feb. 8, with Trump’s blessing. In September, DeGraffenried was invited by the Nevada Secretary of State’s office to make an educational presentation to an Advisory Committee on Participatory Democracy.
Ford had scheduled a press conference to discuss the indictments for Wednesday afternoon but canceled it after the shooting occurred at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.