Michigan electors scheme: What to know about the 16 Trump backers charged
- The 16 Trump supporters charged in a false elector scheme range from high-profile officials to small-town activists
- The group ranges from some who are defiant about their actions to others who say they didn’t know what they were signing
- Each defendant faces eight felony counts; most charges carry 14-year sentences
The 16 “false electors” now facing felony charges for allegedly trying to swing Donald Trump’s 2020 loss in Michigan into a victory range from high-profile party activists to a local mayor, a clerk, grassroot organizer and a heralded dairy farmer.
They are a mostly older group — two are in their 80s, six others in their 70s. And their public statements since their names were first attached to the election scheme are as varied as their backgrounds. Some offered defiant declarations that they have done no wrong. Others said they had little to no idea what they were signing.
All now face the same charges: eight felony counts ranging from conspiracy and election law forgery to forgery and uttering and publishing. Most of the charges are punishable by up to 14 years in prison, while others are five-year felonies.
- Sixteen Michigan Trump loyalists face felonies in ‘false elector’ scheme
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- Michigan commission finds ‘misconduct’ by pro-Trump attorneys in 2020 lawsuit
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said their decision in December 2020 to sign off as state electors on paperwork that asserted Trump won Michigan, even though Democrat Joe Biden won by 154,188 votes, was an unlawful and fraudulent attempt to keep Trump in the White House.
The Michigan Republican Party issued a lengthy statement Wednesday afternoon supporting the defendants and accusing Nessel of “preserving, protecting and defending systemic election corruption.”
All of the defendants will be arraigned in 54-A District Court in Ingham County, though no court dates have yet been set.
Here’s what to know about each of them:
Maddock, of Milford, is a well-known conservative activist in Michigan and is the former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Her husband, Rep. Matt Maddock, is a state legislator.
Maddock, 55, was part of a group that attempted to enter the State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020 to cast electoral votes for Trump, according to an affidavit from the Michigan Attorney General’s office. She and Matt Maddock organized buses from Michigan to Washington D.C. for a rally and were in the city prior to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, but have maintained that they were not present at the U.S. Capitol when the rioting occurred.
Meshawn Maddock told Fox 2 Detroit after the charges were announced that the Trump-affiliated electors “didn’t do anything wrong.”
“We’re not fake electors,” she told the outlet. “There was no secret meeting. These were Trump electors, duly elected Trump electors, who met and it’s all very public…they’re not fake documents.”
Supporters with the Michigan Conservative Coalition started a fundraising campaign late Tuesday evening for Maddock and fellow defendant Marian Sheridan to contest the charges, and have raised about $8,800 as of Wednesday mid-afternoon.
Vanderwood, 69, was elected Wyoming mayor last August and was sworn in in December. He previously served as a city council member.
After winning his primary election with more than 50 percent of the vote last year, Vanderwood declined to discuss his participation in the false elector scheme with The Grand Rapids Press, noting only that the subject “rarely came up” on the campaign trail.
In a statement provided Tuesday to The Grand Rapids Press, city of Wyoming officials acknowledged the charges and said the actions “did not take place in his capacity as a city official.”
Rep. Phil Skaggs, D-East Grand Rapids, called on Vanderwood to resign his position, and Rep. John Fitzgerald, D-Wyoming, said he should at minimum recuse himself from official duties.
“I applaud AG Nessel for filing charges against Michigan’s fake electors, including multiple felonies, and I have full faith that our justice system will produce a fair outcome,” Skaggs said in a statement. “I strongly believe that in light of these extremely serious allegations, the right thing for the mayor to do is resign.”
Berden, of Snover, in the Thumb region, has been Michigan’s Republican national committeewoman since 2015 and previously held other Republican political roles, including precinct delegate, county and state committee member, county chair and national convention delegate.
On her LinkedIn page, Berden, 70, describes herself as a “grassroots activist” who operates a family farm with her husband in Sanilac County.
Berden, who is listed as chairperson on the document, testified before congressional investigators but pleaded her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 80 times.
The Attorney General’s affidavit states that it was Berden who sent the elector document to the U.S. Archives and U.S. Senate.
Grot, 71, is the Shelby Township Clerk and sought the Republican Party nomination for Secretary of State in 2018.
Former Michigan GOP chair Laura Cox later claimed Ron Weiser made a “secret deal” to get Grot to drop out of the race, clearing the path for Mary Treder Lang to win the GOP nomination.
Citing an internal investigation, Cox claimed Grot was paid $200,000 over seven months from the Michigan Republican Party’s administrative account while Weiser was serving as GOP chair.
Grot has served in many local government positions in Macomb County — he’s been a city council member, county commissioner and deputy treasurer — and has also held positions in both the Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices, according to his township website. He’s a former Macomb County Republican Party chair.
Grot declined to comment directly on the charges to The Macomb Daily, saying only that he’s “just a little guy from Shelby Township,” and that “it is what it is.”
Sheridan, 69, is a West Bloomfield resident who currently serves as the grassroots vice chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party.
Sheridan’s past political activism includes co-founding the Michigan Conservative Coalition and serving as director of the Lakes Area Tea Party.
She was one of four named defendants that attempted to enter the Michigan State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020 to cast electoral votes for Trump, according to an affidavit from the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
Sheridan was also a plaintiff in an unsuccessful lawsuit attempting to overturn the results of Michigan’s 2020 presidential election and helped lead a lobbying effort to encourage lawmakers to order a “forensic” audit of the 2020 election.
Sheridan, along with Maddock, is a named beneficiary of a fundraising campaign to contest the charges, which had raised about $8,800 as of Wednesday mid-afternoon.
Thompson, 68, is a Republican precinct delegate and conservative activist.
A resident of Orleans, north of Ionia, Thompson told Bridge Michigan on Tuesday that Nessel is “playing a very poor political game, and it’s a shame all right.”
“She’s supposed to be the attorney general of the state, and she's not; she’s a political apparatchik,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he and others who were involved “have a right to petition, to address our position.” He called Nessel’s decision a “political attack” and an abuse of authority.
Thompson was one of four named defendants that attempted to enter the State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020 to cast electoral votes for Trump, according to an affidavit from the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
He was not originally selected to serve as an elector at the Republican Party Convention if Trump won — Thompson replaced former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who was not present at the December 2020 meeting and did not sign the document declaring Trump the winner.
Lundgren, 73, is a real estate agent and past state House candidate who has said she did not know what she was signing would be passed off as an elector document.
The Detroit resident previously told Bridge Michigan the document she signed was a “blank sheet of paper.”
“We were not aware of signing anything other than our names,” Lundgren said at the time. After the charges were announced, she provided similar comments to The Detroit News, noting that she was distraught and questioned what evidence prosecutors had.
Lundgren was one of four of the named defendants that attempted to enter the Michigan State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020 to cast electoral votes for Trump, according to an affidavit from the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
William (Hank) Choate
Choate, 72, is a Cement City resident and dairy farmer who previously chaired the Jackson County Republican Party.
Choate previously met with Trump at the White House to discuss agricultural issues, telling Hoard’s Dairyman, the national dairy magazine, it was “an honor and a privilege to…be a voice of agriculture and sit down with the President.”
Amy Facchinello, 55, is a school board member in Grand Blanc who told the Grand Blanc View during her campaign her goal was “to be a conservative voice and to protect the rights of teachers, parents and students from government overreach.”
She also expressed concerns about “third-party actors” pushing an outside agenda on students. In 2021, she faced recall efforts and protests on claims of supporting QAnon conspiracies.
Facchinello previously served as vice chair of the Genesee County Republican Party.
In a deposition to Congress, Rodriguez, a Grosse Pointe Farms resident, repeatedly invoked her Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination when asked about the electors document.
Rodriguez is facing a complaint from the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, which prosecutes attorney misconduct, for her involvement in the situation, accusing Rodriguez of signing off on the document despite knowing “that she was not a duly elected and qualified elector.”
Frost, 75, is a Warren real estate agent who has unsuccessfully run for the Michigan House and Macomb County Board of Commissioners.
He also previously signed onto a federal lawsuit in an attempt to reinstate four city council members who were removed from the ballot for exceeding term limits.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Frost supported Trump’s reelection campaign and prior to the election said casting an electoral vote for Trump was “a privilege I look forward to.”
Haggard, an 82-year-old Charlevoix resident, owns Haggard’s Plumbing and Heating and was a legitimate elector in 2016 who cast one of Michigan’s electoral votes for Trump.
He was also a plaintiff in an unsuccessful lawsuit attempting to overturn the results of Michigan’s 2020 presidential election.
Haggard told The Detroit News on Tuesday that he didn’t believe there was any policy preventing people from making “a statement” and said he did not do anything illegal.
In a January 2022 interview with The Charlevoix Courier, Haggard said he signed a document as an elector, but “did I read it? Hell no.”
He added that it’s “awful” that his and the others’ actions were “being viewed as anything other than service.”
Henry, 65, is a Brighton resident who has worked in various local political roles.
She is currently treasurer for the 7th Congressional District Republican Committee.
King, 56, is a retired tool and die worker and Republican activist and unsuccessfully ran for Washtenaw County Commissioner in 2020.
The Ypsilanti resident was also a plaintiff in an unsuccessful lawsuit attempting to overturn the results of Michigan’s 2020 presidential election.
King has spoken out against utilities’ use of smart meters at public meetings.
James Renner, 76, is a Lansing resident and former precinct delegate.
He was not originally selected to serve as an elector at the Republican Party Convention if Trump won — Renner replaced Gerald Wall, who was not present at the December 2020 meeting and did not sign the document declaring Trump the winner.
Rook, 81, is a retired Realtor and member of several local community groups, according to her LinkedIn page.
The Paw Paw resident serves on the Van Buren County Republican Party’s executive committee.
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