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Michigan ‘fake electors’ head back in court: What to know

two women, Meshawn Maddock and Michele Lundgren, in a court room
Meshawn Maddock, right, and co-defendant Michele Lundgren talk briefly during a December 2023 hearing in Lansing’s 54-A District Court. Both face felony charges alleging they forged documents in a failed effort to keep former President Donald Trump in the White House. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Six Republicans charged with felonies relating to the 2020 presidential election will be back in court this week 
  • Prosecutors say the group forged a document falsely claiming then-President Trump won the 2020 election
  • A Lansing-based judge is reviewing whether there is enough evidence to take those involved with the ‘fake elector’ plot to trial

April 30: Michigan AG backtracks ‘co-conspirator’ claim in fake electors probe
April 24: Trump an 'unindicted co-conspirator' in Michigan electors case, investigator says
April 23: Michigan ‘fake elector’ judge threatens contempt for witness intimidation

LANSING — Six Michigan Republicans charged with participating in a plot to overturn then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss are due back in court this week as a judge considers whether to send them to trial. 

The so-called fake electors allegedly signed a document in the wake of Michigan’s 2020 presidential election claiming the state’s Electoral College votes went to Trump rather than then-candidate Joe Biden, a Democrat.


State prosecutors must now prove the defendants knowingly committed forgery by sending a slate of false electors to the National Archives and Congress despite Biden winning Michigan by over 154,000 votes.


Among those returning to Ingham County’s 54-A District Court on Tuesday morning are ex-Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock and Kathy Berden, a former Republican National Committee member.

They, along with Republicans John Haggard of Charlevoix and Michele Lundgren of Detroit, 7th Congressional District Republican Committee Treasurer Mari-Ann Henry and Grand Blanc Community Schools board member Amy Facchinello are charged with eight felonies apiece, six of them related to forgery. The other two deal with uttering and publishing.

Each plaintiff has pleaded not guilty, and some have suggested they didn’t know what they were signing or were preparing an “alternate slate” of electors should courts overturn Trump’s election loss.

But Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, has argued their actions “undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections” and warrant criminal prosecution. 

The Michigan case is among a series of prosecutorial attempts to hold individuals accountable for failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 

Trump is facing federal charges himself, while prosecutors in Georgia and Nevada have similarly charged fake electors there.

Where things left off

The GOP plaintiffs were last before 54-A District Court Judge Kristen Simmons in February. 

That’s when James Renner, a former Republican precinct delegate, told lawyers that many of those involved in the plot thought the GOP-led Legislature could choose to accept their Republican slate over Democrats’. 

That would have awarded Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes to Trump rather than Biden. Republican legislative leaders declined to recognize the Trump electors, however, saying at the time that they had no authority under Michigan law to ignore the popular vote. 

Renner was asked to sign the fake elector document on Dec. 14, 2020, after another Republican failed to show up. Nessel’s office dropped charges against him last year after he agreed to cooperate with the investigation. 

“The purpose was to present the slate of candidates,” Renner said in testimony earlier this year, “because we were told that the representatives and senators have the ability to accept our slate of candidates versus the Democratic slate of candidates – but it had to be there by two o’ clock.”

The would-be Republican electors met at the Michigan GOP headquarters in Lansing to sign the documents. They posed for a photo before meeting at the Radisson hotel in downtown Lansing and then walked to the Michigan Capitol in an attempt to deliver the documents to the state Senate. They were blocked from entering the building.

Renner said he and others in the group were told “this was an appropriate process” that could result in lawmakers considering an alternate Republican slate of candidates alongside the Democratic slate, despite state certification of Biden’s 154,188-vote win. 

Dan Schwager, former general counsel for the Secretary of the U.S. Senate, told the court in February that a fake certificate was delivered to the U.S. Senate — but never officially recognized — before Congress certified the election on Jan. 6, 2021.

A case against the so-called 'fake electors'

In the days leading up to the Michigan fake elector meeting, Republicans first allegedly toyed with camping overnight at the state Capitol in order to cast their legally dubious votes.

That’s according to ex-Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox, who testified in December that the alternate electors hoped to comply with state law mandating they meet in the Senate chambers on Dec. 14. 

Not a fan of the idea, Cox said she proposed holding a “ceremony” in honor of the Republican elector nominees and a document pledging they would cast Electoral College votes for Donald Trump "if the election was overturned."

Despite the planned ceremony, Cox said the group “weren’t electors at the time, in my opinion.” Instead, she testified the effort was meant to show Trump’s campaign the Michigan Republican Party was “doing our part.”

Cox and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land were among a handful of individuals who took the stand during initial days of the preliminary examination as prosecutors worked to craft a timeline of decisions and events that led up to the fake elector meeting. 

Land, who had been nominated as a GOP elector, did not attend the meeting or sign any documents. But she testified that Maddock had told her that “Trump lawyers” wanted her there. 

Tony Zammit, former communications director for the Michigan GOP, testified that he did not think all the fake electors were “necessarily responsible” and had listened to bad advice from Trump campaign attorney Shawn Flynn. 

But, he added: "I thought Meshawn Maddock might be culpable."

Another preliminary hearing?

Judge Kristen Simmons, who split the Republican defendants into two separate groups for preliminary examinations, said in January that she would finish hearings for the first six defendants before beginning the others.

“It would be a nightmare for me to begin another set of exams with the same set of evidence at a different time,” she said at the time


That means another eight individuals are still due in court for their own preliminary hearings in the alleged plot, including Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot, Wyoming Mayor Kent Vanderwood and former 14th Congressional District GOP Chair Mayra Rodriguez. 

The status of charges against Timothy King, a retired tool and die worker and Republican activist who has spoken out against utilities use of smart meters at public meetings, are currently uncertain after the court ordered he undergo a mental health evaluation last year.

An attorney for King, who was the lead plaintiff in a failed 2020 lawsuit seeking to overturn the Michigan election, said last fall that King was suffering from “delusional” and “illogical” thinking, making it hard for him to understand the gravity of the case against him.

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