Late this morning, the Washington Post reported that “An attorney for the Oath Keepers who was with the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was arrested Thursday in Texas on charges related to the attack on Congress. Kellye SoRelle, 43, was arrested in Junction, Texas, and is scheduled to make an initial appearance Thursday afternoon before a federal judge in Austin, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington. SoRelle was charged in an indictment returned Wednesday on four counts— conspiracy, obstruction of a federal proceeding, tampering with documents and misdemeanor trespassing in a restricted building or grounds— prosecutors said.” And two of Trump’s top White House lawyers, Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin, have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury and will testify tomorrow on the matter of the coup attempt and J-6 insurrection. Great. More right-wing lawyers need to be held accountable. But I was wondering, why have none of the fake electors who were part of the plot to overthrow the government been arrested yet?
Yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel exposed a dirty little secret that the party of insurrection thought no one would notice: false electors are working within the Republican Party. The big news was that insurrectionist Senator Ron Johnson, whose office was pivotal in the conspiracy to substitute false electors for the legitimate ones selected by Wisconsin voters, employs one of the fake electors, Pam Travis, as a full-time staffer on his campaign.
Eventually Travis, “one of 10 Wisconsin Republicans who signed official-looking paperwork falsely claiming to be a presidential elector in 2020,” will likely go to trial and, hopefully, prison. Meanwhile, she’s “active in Wisconsin politics. She serves as the GOP’s 7th Congressional District’s vice chair and is the former treasurer of the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women. In May, Travis was secretary for the party's state convention— introduced by U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil as a ‘longtime grassroots’ supporter.” And she works for John's reelection campaign.
She is not the only so-called alternate elector from Wisconsin to get involved in a campaign this midterm cycle.
Former Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman Andrew Hitt served as campaign chairman for Adam Jarchow’s attorney general bid. Jarchow narrowly lost the Republican primary to Eric Toney.
Bill Feehan, chairman of the La Crosse County Republican Party who also signed the false election paperwork, sat on an advisory board for former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch's gubernatorial campaign. Kleefisch lost her primary to construction executive Tim Michels.
Travis' work on Johnson's current race against Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, however, comes amid revelations this summer that Johnson's office communicated with Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly's team to try to hand Pence false elector paperwork from Wisconsin and Michigan as part of former President Donald Trump's effort to stop certification of the 2020 election.
…Johnson has come under fire for his office's connection to the effort. On Tuesday, Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Phil Shulman said: "Instead of focusing on what's best for Wisconsinites— lowering costs and supporting the creation of good paying jobs— Ron Johnson's working to undermine democracy."
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Madison, said her Republican counterpart's actions amounted to "direct support for Trump's conspiracy to overturn the will of the people in Wisconsin."
…In a statement, Johnson campaign spokesman Ben Voelkel called Travis a "dedicated volunteer who has been active in the Republican Party grassroots for years," adding that the campaign is "proud to have her on the team."
Another lie from Johnson’s well-honed Deception Machine. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discovered that this particular “volunteer” was paid $13,700 for campaign work since April.
Then today Amanda Carpenter, writing for The Bulwark, reported that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp can tell Ron Johnson to hold his beer— Kemp’s actual running mate, crackpot neo-fascist Burt Jones, was a fake elector as well! “Jones,” wrote Carpenter, “signed on as a false elector in the scheme to squeeze former Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes on January 6th. Because of this, he is now a target of the Fulton County district attorney’s criminal investigation into Trump’s broader efforts to interfere in the 2020 election. Should he win, Jones will claim a major prize— he would serve as ‘president of the Senate’ in Georgia— a plum position for someone seeking to do election-flipping, should the opportunity present itself in 2024. As president of the state Senate, Jones could guide the Georgia legislature in appointing its own electors, irrespective of the vote count, as many Trump-aligned activists hope that Republican state legislatures will do in the future. A Jones victory would represent an evolution in Georgia’s Republican leadership. The current lieutenant governor, Republican Geoff Duncan, spoke out aggressively against Trump’s election lies in 2020 and stripped Jones of his committee chairmanship due to Jones’s outlandish efforts to overturn the election results. But Duncan decided not to seek a second term.”
Despite Kemp’s disinclination to go along with Trump’s election denialism, his strategy throughout this campaign has been guided by one principle: Make nice with MAGA.
Kemp has steadfastly looked past Trump’s desire to oust him from office and been quick to remind voters that he has “never said a bad word about Trump.” He has ignored Trump’s tirades against him, turned the other cheek, and told voters he was the better candidate to deliver on Trump policies than his Trump-endorsed primary opponent, David Perdue.
One of Kemp’s gambits was pushing for a bill to restrict voting access in order to appease aggrieved Trump voters.
…Because Kemp was the recipient of Trump’s “find the votes” phone request, the governor has been subpoenaed by the Fulton County district attorney’s office to testify. Kemp was initially cooperative with the investigation, but as the midterms approached he grew increasingly combative. He sought to quash his subpoena. Last week, a judge ruled that Kemp would have to testify but could delay his testimony until after the election.
However, Georgia’s investigators aren’t only interested in Kemp’s phone call. The Fulton County district attorney’s office is also probing “multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere.”
Which is where it gets knotty for Kemp. His running mate is likely to factor into at least a few of these probes. Here are some of the facts known about Jones:
• Jones was one of four Republican state senators who drafted a petition that asked Kemp to convene a special session due to “systematic” election failures and allow the GOP-controlled state legislature to “take back the power to appoint electors.” That petition is no longer available online, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported it “cited the same dubious legal arguments” previously espoused by Trump’s personal and campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Jones lobbied his colleagues to sign the petition by telling them “the truth will set you free.” Kemp and Duncan stated that a special session was “not an option under state or federal law” and rejected the request.
• Jones signed an amicus brief supporting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed Supreme Court lawsuit to challenge the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
• Jones was one of 16 Georgia Republicans who secretly met in the state Capitol on December 14 to cast Electoral College votes for Trump. Attendees were instructed to tell security guards they were at the Capitol to meet with either Jones or State Sen. Brandon Beach. The Washington Post reported that the Trump campaign told the Georgia Republicans: “Your duties are imperative to ensure the end result— a win in Georgia for President Trump— but will be hampered unless we have complete secrecy and discretion.”
• Jones then turned his efforts toward pressuring Mike Pence directly. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones was one of 16 Georgia legislators who signed a January 2, 2021 letter to Pence urging him to delay counting Electoral College votes. Lawmakers undertook similar efforts in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Oddly, Jones said he attempted and failed to hand-deliver the letter to Pence at a dinner held at the Naval Observatory (the vice-presidential residence in Washington) on January 5th. A photo of them was taken and posted of Jones and Pence together that evening, but Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he left the letter in his Uber and didn’t deliver it to Pence because “I could tell that it wasn’t going to happen.”
• Jones has held his election-denying position throughout his campaign. The Associated Press reported that Jones campaigned with Marjorie Taylor Greene over the summer for an “Election Integrity” town hall where organizers handed out “Trump won” signs to attendees.
Though Kemp may have been at odds with Jones about his election denialism in the past, by all appearances, it isn’t a deal breaker for the governor. They’re campaign buddies now.
And Jones isn’t the only election denier Kemp is making nice with in the name of uniting to win in November. Several other false electors continue to serve in prominent positions in Georgia’s Republican party, such as Georgia GOP chairman David Shafer, Georgia Republican party finance chairman and board member Shawn Still (who is currently running for state Senate), and Georgia Republican party assistant treasurer Vikki Townsend Consiglio, whom Kemp re-appointed to the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission last month.
All of the 16 Republicans who signed on as fake electors are targets of Georgia’s criminal investigation.
Governor Kemp, apparently, has no problem with that.