Nevada Attorney General will appeal judge’s decision to toss fake elector case

Nevada Attorney General will appeal judge’s decision to toss fake elector case

Arron Ford, attorney general of Nevada, attends court in Las Vegas, on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, where six Republicans pleaded not guilty to two felony charges each, stemming from their roles as fake electors in 2020 where they signed certificates falsely claiming former President Donald Trump won Nevada over Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Ty O'Neil)

By Casey Harrison

June 25, 2024

The judge sided with attorneys who represent six Nevada Republicans who said Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford erred in bringing the case before a grand jury in Las Vegas. 

A Clark County Judge on Friday dismissed felony cases against six Nevada Republicans who participated in an effort to falsely allocate the state’s six electoral votes following the 2020 election on grounds the case was filed in an improper jurisdiction. 

Clark County District Court Judge Mary Kay Holthus sided with attorneys for the six defendants who said Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office erred in bringing the case before a grand jury in Las Vegas rather than Reno or the nearby capital, Carson City, where the alleged crimes occurred. 

Following the 2020 presidential election, Nevada Republicans in December of that year hosted a fake ceremony in Carson City to certify the state’s six electoral votes for former President Donald Trump, –  even though the state was carried by Democrat Joe Biden by roughly 30,000 votes. 

The six alleged fake electors submitted a document titled “Certificate of the Votes of the 2020 Electors from Nevada” to the National Archives in Washington — joining with state Republican parties in seven states to send similar documents falsely asserting a Trump victory in a state actually carried by Biden. 

Ford, a Democrat, told reporters on Friday he plans to appeal the case to the Nevada Supreme Court, according to the Associated Press. 

“The judge got it wrong and we’ll be appealing immediately,” Ford told reporters following Friday’s hearing. 

The six defendants — Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald; Clark County Republican Chairman Jesse Law; Storey County Clerk James Hindle III; as well as Nevada Republican national committeeman James DeGraffenreid; GOP activist Shawn Meehan; and Eileen Rice, a Nevada Republican Party delegate — were each indicted in December on charges of offering a false instrument for filing, and uttering a forged instrument, class C and D felonies, respectively. The charges carried a maximum penalty of five years behind bars. 

Defense attorneys celebrated the decision and said even if Ford’s office did appeal, bringing the case before another grand jury in Carson City would violate the statute of limitations of the charges. That may be true for the “filing a false instrument charge,” though state law allows prosecutors up to four years to prosecute forgery-related crimes. 

Fake elector cases remain ongoing in Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia. 

MORE: Here’s what to know about Trump’s indictment in Georgia

Nevada’s case, filed last December, focused on the actions of six defendants. Criminal cases in three other states focus on many more — 16 in Michigan, 19 in Georgia, and 18 in Arizona.

Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer who pleaded guilty in Georgia last October to helping orchestrate the Trump campaign’s fake elector scheme in 2020, cooperated with prosecutors in the Nevada criminal investigation and was not charged.

In testimony before the grand jury that met in Las Vegas in November, Chesebro said he provided the state GOP with an “organized step-by-step explanation of what they would have to do” to sign and submit certificates falsely stating that Trump, not Biden, won in Nevada.

He also called Nevada “extremely problematic” to the fake elector plot, compared with other states, because the meeting of electors was overseen by the secretary of state. Also, unlike other states, Nevada did not have a legal challenge pending in courts at the time.

The state’s Democratic electors certified Biden’s victory in Nevada in the presence of Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican. Her defense of the results as reliable and accurate led the state GOP to censure her, but Cegavske later conducted an investigation that found no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

CATEGORIES: GOP ACCOUNTABILITY

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