18 indicted in alleged 2020 fake Arizona elector scheme tied to Trump, AG announces

An Arizona grand jury indicted 18 people Wednesday in the ongoing investigation into an alleged attempt to use alternate electors after the 2020 presidential election as part of a wider alleged conspiracy to falsely declare then-President Donald Trump the winner, the state’s attorney general announced.

The alleged fake electors and defendants named in the indictment were Kelli Ward, Tyler Bowyer, Nancy Cottle, Jacob Hoffman, Anthony Kern, James Lamon, Robert Montgomery, Samuel Moorhead, Lorraine Pellegrino, Gregory Safsten and Michael Ward.

Hoffman and Kern are both Arizona state senators. Hoffman had in the past several weeks been pursuing a position with the RNC.

Hoffman told the Arizona Republic in a statement that he is “innocent of any crime,” and “I look forward to the day when I am vindicated of this naked political persecution by the judicial process.” 

An attorney for Lamon also told the Arizona Republic the indictment is “a politically motivated prosecution.”

Additional defendants’ names were redacted from court documents because they had not yet been served, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, said. Some, however, could be identified by their descriptions in court documents.

The indictment described Trump as “Unindicted Coconspirator 1.” Trump has repeatedly called such prosecutions “witch hunts.” 

“An attorney for Unindicted Coconspirator 1 who was often identified as ‘the Mayor,'” appears to be Rudy Giuliani. Jenna Ellis, another attorney who joined Giuliani in helping spread baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, also seems to be described in the documents.

Another unidentified defendant is referred to as Trump’s chief of staff in 2020, which would have been Mark Meadows. Another unidentified defendant was the Trump campaign’s Director of Election Day Operations, a title that belonged to Mike Roman. 

Attorney George Terwilliger, who represents Meadows, told The Associated Press that, while he hadn’t seen the indictment, naming Meadows would be “a blatantly political and politicized accusation and will be contested and defeated.” 

Ted Goodman, a political advisor to Giuliani, told the AP the indictment shows, “the continued weaponization of our justice system.” 

The Arizona Republican Party called the indictments a “blatant and unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial power” and said it “condemns these actions in the strongest terms.”

The charges being brought include fraud, forgery, and conspiracy, which are class 2, 4, and 5 felonies, Mayes said.  

Arizona is one of seven states that Trump lost in 2020 where the former president’s allies allegedly attempted to create a fraudulent register of electors.  

“Unwilling to accept” the fact that Biden won the 2020 presidential election, the defendants “schemed to prevent the lawful transfer of the presidency” by raising false claims of election fraud and organizing fake elector votes, the indictment said. 

The alleged fraud was committed to prevent “the lawful transfer of the presidency of the United States,” keeping “Trump in office against the will of Arizona voters, and depriving Arizona voters of their right to vote and have their votes counted,” court documents said. 

The Arizona indictments came as Trump and 18 of his associates face charges of racketeering, election fraud and other charges in Fulton County, Georgia, over an alleged effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, including the alternate elector scheme. That indictment alleged that some of the defendants solicited legislators to appoint new electors in other states besides Georgia, including Arizona.

In August of last year, the former president was indicted by a federal grand jury over alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. That indictment, stemming from special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s actions following the 2020 election, cited a memo outlining a strategy for Trump supporters to serve as fake electors. 

The former president has denied all wrongdoing in both of those cases. 

—Kathryn Watson, Scott MacFarlane and Olivia Rinaldi contributed reporting.

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