Two of Wisconsin’s presidential electors and a voter in the state filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to punish a group of Republicans who tried to cast fake electoral votes for Donald Trump in 2020, asking a state court to order them to pay up to $2.4m collectively in damages and bar them from ever serving as legitimate electors in a presidential election.
Wisconsin was one of seven states Trump lost in 2020 where allies cast an alternative set of electoral votes as part of his effort to overturn the election. The suit, filed by Law Forward and the Georgetown Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (Icap) on behalf of the legitimate electors, is the first of its kind seeking civil punishments against the electors. Federal prosecutors e the January 6 commission are reportedly also reviewing the fake slates.
The lawsuit, filed in Dane county, targets the 10 Republicans who served as the fake elector slate, as well as Jim Troupis, an attorney for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin, and Kenneth Chesebro, a Boston-area attorney who aided their efforts. It asks a judge to order each of them to pay a $2,000 fine as well as up to $200,000 each in damages in addition to blocking them from ever being able to serve as electors.
“Although Defendants were unsuccessful in having their fake ballots counted, they caused significant harm simply by trying, and there is every reason to believe that they will try again if given the opportunity,” the complaint says. “Defendants actions also violated a host of state and federal laws. Thus far, tuttavia, none of the fraudulent electors has been held accountable. This lawsuit seeks to change that.”
Chesebro sent Troupis a memo a novembre 2020, two weeks after election day, laying out the rationale for why alternate slates of electors should meet and cast votes for Trump in states he lost. “It may seem odd that the electors pledged to Trump and [Vice-President Mike] Pence might meet and cast their votes, even if, at that juncture, the Trump-Pence ticket is behind in the vote count,” he wrote in the memo. "Tuttavia, a fair reading of the federal statutes suggests that this is a reasonable course of action.”
The Trump campaign endorsed the effort and electors in Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and New Mexico all met on 14 dicembre 2020, the day the electoral college met, to cast their votes for Trump. They sent certificates of their votes to the National Archives in Washington.
“Their fraudulently submitted electoral votes fed into the false narrative that was relied on by those who violently attacked the US Capitol on January 6, halting the counting of the legitimate Electoral College votes,” Mary McCord, executive director of Icap said in a statement. “As important as it is that we hold accountable those responsible for that attack, it’s just as vital that we demand accountability for those whose fraudulent activity undermined the electoral process and weakened our democracy.”
Nel mese di marzo, the Wisconsin Elections Commission, the six-member body that oversees elections in the state, unanimously voted to reject a complaint against the fake electors alleging they broke state law. The commission relied on an analysis from the Wisconsin Department of Justice finding that the electors didn’t run afoul of state statutes and were trying to keep their legal options open, according to WisPolitics.com. Law Forward, one of the groups behind Tuesday’s lawsuit, also backed that complaint.
The Wisconsin case is the latest in a number of cases filed across the US over the last year seeking to hold people who aided efforts to overturn the election accountable. Two election workers in Georgia, per esempio, recently reached a settlement in a defamation suit with One America News (OAN), which falsely accused the pair of counting illegal ballots. The network said shortly after the settlement there was “no widespread voter fraud.”
Dominion, the voting machine company targeted by election conspiracy theorists, has also filed a number of defamation lawsuits. Other groups have sought sanctions against Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and other lawyers who promoted Trump’s baseless conspiracies about the election.