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Local News

16 Michigan Republicans Charged With Felonies in 2020 Fake Elector Scheme 

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by Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance
July 18, 2023

Updated, 6:25 p.m., 8:08 p.m., 7/18/23

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged 16 residents in the state in the investigation into a false electors scheme following the 2020 presidential election, including Michigan GOP National Committeewoman Kathy Berden and former Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock.

It is believed that these 16 individuals from all over the state met in the basement of the Michigan Republican Party’s Lansing headquarters on Dec. 14, 2020, following the election where Joe Biden was elected as president, also winning the majority of Michigan voters. 

At this meeting it is believed that these individuals signed a series of certificates as the “duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America for the State of Michigan,” sending false documents to the United States Senate and National Archives saying former President Donald Trump had been reelected.

The actual Electoral College slate of 16 Biden electors met at the Michigan Capitol on Dec. 14. Some Republicans — including state Reps. Daire Rendon (R-Lake City) and Matt Maddock (R-Milford), who is married to Meshawn Maddock — tried to enter the building, but were turned away.

There is overwhelming evidence against these 16 people, Nessel said in the news release Tuesday.

Each is charged with a total of eight felonies:

One count of conspiracy to commit forgery, with a max 14-year sentence Two counts of forgery, with a max 14-year sentence One count of conspiracy to commit uttering and publishing, with a max 14-year sentence One count of uttering and publishing, with a max 14-year sentence One count of conspiracy to commit election law forgery, with a max 5-year sentence Two counts of election law forgery, with a max 5-year sentence

“The false electors’ actions undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan,” said Nessel.  

Those charged are:

Kathy Berden, 70, of Snover: A Michigan Republican National Committeewoman William (Hank) Choate, 72, of Cement City: Served as chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party Amy Facchinello, 55, of Grand Blanc: A trustee on the Grand Blanc Board of Education who ran on conservative values  Clifford Frost, 75, of Warren: Ran for the 28th district seat in the state House of Representatives in 2020, but lost the Republican bid in the primary Stanley Grot, 71, of Shelby Township: A GOP power broker in Macomb County, serving on the Shelby Township Board of Trustees as well as the township’s clerk  John Haggard, 82, of Charlevoix  Mary-Ann Henry, 65, of Brighton  Timothy King, 56, of Ypsilanti  Michele Lundgren, 73, of Detroit: Ran for the 9th district seat in the state House of Representatives in 2022, but lost in the general election Meshawn Maddock, 55, of Milford: Co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party and vocal proponent of Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen James Renner, 76, of Lansing  Mayra Rodriguez, 64, of Grosse Pointe Farms: Ran for the 2nd district seat in the state House of Representatives in 2022 as a Republican, but lost to Democrat and now House Speaker Joe Tate Rose Rook, 81, of Paw Paw  Marian Sheridan, 69, of West Bloomfield: Co-founder of the Michigan Conservative Coalition  Ken Thompson, 68, of Orleans  Kent Vanderwood, 69, of Wyoming: Mayor of Wyoming

Michigan is not alone in fake elector schemes; New Mexico, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all are looking into groups who reportedly sent fake documents to Washington in December 2020.

The actions of the 16 people charged are “unlawful” and “un-American,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a statement Tuesday.

“These Republicans attempted to undermine the very foundations of our democracy, and their actions are a stain on the proud history of our state and the rule of law,” Barnes said.

Michigan has been a hotspot for Trump’s false claims of mass fraud in the 2020 election stealing the presidency from him. Nessel notes in the news release that Michigan had laid to rest any serious challenges about the integrity of the 2020 election by the time these individuals convened, knowing full well they had no legitimate or legal avenue to reverse the will of the people in the election.

“There was only the desperate effort of these defendants, who we have charged with deliberately attempting to interfere with and overturn our free and fair election process, and along with it, the will of millions of Michigan voters,” Nessel said.

Attorney General Dana Nessel at the University of Michigan on Oct. 3, 2022 | Ken Coleman

And although “democracy prevailed” Nessel said, the actions these individuals are accused of are not erased. 

Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson added Tuesday that as the state’s chief elections officer, she is glad to hear charges have been brought against those who would disenfranchise voters in Michigan.

“As we begin to see accountability and justice for those who were part of an actionable plan to subvert the will of the people in 2020, we must also remember that we are still in the midst of a nationally coordinated effort to weaken democracy,” Benson said. “As we prepare for the 2024 presidential election, today’s charges are the first in an ongoing effort to not just seek justice for the wrongs of the past, but to ensure they do not happen again.”

The felonies are serious charges and the burden of proof is on Nessel, House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) said in a statement Tuesday.

“But my focus is on the Legislature. The integrity of our elections is being eroded by bad policy signed by the governor — just today — that opens the door to fraud by weakening ballot security and encourages bad actors to meddle in our elections,” Hall said of bills Whitmer signed into law Tuesday. “Republicans, independents, and Democrats should all have confidence in the security of our elections.”

The newly signed laws implement measures within Proposal 2, which Michigan voters approved in the 2022 November election, expanding absentee voting and a new tracking system for absentee ballots.

Each defendant will appear in the 54-A District Court in Ingham County for arraignment. Nessel’s office says it has not ruled out charging more individuals in its investigation.

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Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.