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Three Things: Dial M for Michigan

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It was a big week for the Mitten State which I call home — big ups and equally big downs, like a roller coaster.

Must admit the low points which made the high points possible made me nauseous and sick with dread.

~ 3 ~

High point: Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow had a breakout week with a kick-ass-and-take-names speech on the senate floor this past Tuesday.

The wretched low point: state senator Lana Theis’ hateful fundraising email which I won’t share; the 22nd state senate district which includes Livingston County and smaller portions of Genesee, Shiawasee, and Ingham counties have a lot to answer for having elected this hater.

McMorrow how every Democrat should do it: cede not one inch to the right-wing and its unrestrained hate when Democrats are doing everything which makes our cities, states, nation livable. Push back hard against the corrupting, toxic hate.

GOP voters in Michigan need to snap the hell out of their hate spiral and take a good look around them — as the motto says, Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice. These peninsulas aren’t just theirs alone and they’re pleasant because we occupy it together, cooperatively and collaboratively. Hate did not make this state great.

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Another high point: Michigan state senator Erika Geiss also blew the doors out of the state senate chambers with her heartbreaking appeal on Wednesday:

The sickening low point: yet another Black person’s life was lost to excessive police force on April 4, when a routine traffic stop ended with a Grand Rapids officer shooting a 26-year-old driver at point blank range in the head. It is absolutely unacceptable that a traffic stop results in a driver’s death, even when the driver attempts to grab an officer’s taser. If the officer could manage to pull his gun and shoot he had enough control of the situation to restrain the driver.

This abuse by police cannot continue. Citizens deserve far better public safety. How many times do we have to demand this before change happens?

Senator Geiss and every BIPOC resident in this state and nation should not have to fear for their family members’ safety in public or private from the very people they employ to keep the public safe.

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Sickened by Senator Lana Theis’ hateful rhetoric against people who don’t fit her personal model, sickened further by the shooting death of an unarmed driver, the Michigan GOP served up another dose of noxiousness with its convention this weekend.

You may already have seen Rudy Giuliani sliming his way out of the Grand Rapids airport via retweet by Marcy, but in case you haven’t:

The MIGOP convention was an event important enough to warrant Giuliani sliding into Michigan, perhaps to network with his fellow co-conspirators about the attempt to fraudulently foist different electors on the state, or a future attempt to do so. They would have been easy to meet in one location considering their respective roles in the MIGOP apparatus.

Perhaps it was important for Giuliani to see how other efforts to enable an illegitimate GOP stranglehold on power — like the selection of Big Lie

A loop-de-loop: it’d be nice to know if former MIGOP Randy Bishop attended the MIGOP convention. He’s suddenly flipped parties and is now running as a Democrat for the state’s 37th senate district. He’d run in 2010 as a Republican in the same district, which includes Antrim County now as it did before redistricting. The Detroit News ran an article about Bishop’s filing to run (paywalled); unlike most of the state legislature candidate filings, Bishop’s was noteworthy because he’d said on his “Trucker Randy” radio show last month that “A family should be a white mom, white dad and white kids.

Why he thinks that will win over even the few Democrats in his majority white district isn’t obvious; it’s not just overt racism but a rejection of cities down state like Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Benton Harbor, and Muskegon which have larger percentages of BIPOC residents and provide substantial amounts of state tax revenues. The 37th district, while 88% white, is home to a substantive number of Michigan’s Native Americans including Bay Mills Indian Community (Chippewa), Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa/Chippewa Indians. The tribes bring in a lot of tourism dollars to a very rural district.

Bishop’s rhetoric is just plain hateful and has no place in the Democratic Party in any state, and certainly not in Michigan’s 37th senate district. He must surely know this, which makes his candidacy look like a ratfucking operation of some sort.

Remember that Antrim County, home to roughly 23,000 Michigan residents, was at the center of the attempted election fraud in November 2020, when human error led to false claims the voting tabulators counted votes incorrectly. A judge dismissed claims of fraud by the GOP last May.

MIGOP’s canvasser Aaron Van Langevelde certified the election for Biden, refusing to cooperate with the conspiracy theory that the Dominion tabulators flipped votes. In January 2021 when Langevelde’s term expired, he was not re-nominated as canvasser by his party.

During the lawsuit filed by Antrim County resident Bill Bailey over the alleged ballot tabulation fraud, his attorney Matthew DePerno questioned the legitimacy of all future elections.

Which makes DePerno’s Trump-supported nomination as MIGOP’s candidate for Michigan’s secretary of state quite the joke: if the elections can’t be trusted, could this election be trusted if he should win?

Such ridiculously bad faith by MIGOP to nominate a Big Lie proponent who would have supported the fraudulent electors’ conspiracy to overturn Michigan’s election.

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Finally, a high point — some of the diversity which makes Michigan great.

Treat this as an open thread.

Guest Post: The Tie that Binds the Conspiracies

[This is a guest post by long-time community member WilliamOckham. /~Rayne]

This post began as an attempt to figure out who developed the “fake elector vote count in a box” package Republicans in seven states used to create “alternate” elector vote certifications.

It ended up helping me understand the “bigger conspiracy” to which Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel referred. What follows is not an indictment and nothing in it is particularly new. Most of what I describe can be found in various comments here at emptywheel.

I’ve laid out how I think the “alternate” elector scheme played a central role in the coup. I think I understand why it was important for Nessel to refer this to the Department of Justice. Because some of these activities violated multiple states’ laws, it’s easier to show the entire scheme was corrupt.

The Contingency Plan

The key to understanding the conspiracy to overthrow the election of the President of the United States is in Barton Gellman’s article, The Election That Could Break America published September 23, 2020 in The Atlantic:

“… According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. …”

That’s it. That’s the core of the coup plan. “Bypass election results” means preventing the peaceful transfer of power. Every part of the effort, including the violence on January 6, depended on using Republican state legislatures to provide a façade of legitimacy to a brazen attempt to overthrow the government.

The “alternate” electors weren’t just some goofy outpouring of grassroots Trump support. They were absolutely essential to the plot. To understand the coup, we need to understand how the “alternate” electors scheme was carried out.

The Plan Realized

After a look at Michigan’s “alternate” electors, I noticed the formatting and textual similarities between the various states’ “Electoral Vote Certifications”; they show this was a nationally-coordinated effort.

One of the fake electoral vote count certifications (Nevada’s) was broadcast live. Go to the 7:08 mark and listen as they call the roll. You can verify that the names match the ones on the Nevada fake certification paperwork. At 12:53, they read their certification which matches word for word the one submitted to the National Archives. And at 14:15, two “electors” (Rice and Hindle) are shown using different pens. Sure enough, this difference shows up in the documents.

I think there’s a reason this particular event was the one live streamed. All of Nevada’s fake electors were selected by the Nevada Republican Party to serve in the event of a Trump win. There were no messy substitutions. Well, and maybe because they had a dude who could do a fairly decent acapella rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which to be fair, I would show that off too.

As folks here have already noted, key figures in Trump World were well aware of this effort in real-time: Stephen Miller (imagine me turning and spitting on the ground every time I type that name) talked about it on December 14; Kayleigh McEnany talked it up on December 17.

However, I believe the foot soldiers for this aspect of the coup were from The Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society (not to be confused with Project Amistad or Amistad Law Project which are totally different, legitimate organizations).

The Amistad Project has been connected to a variety of shady pro-Trump “election integrity” groups, like Got Freedom? or Election Integrity Project, or American Voter’s Alliance (to which Got Freedom? now redirects its internet traffic).

These organizations are all basically the same thing: a bunch of right-wing lawyers and political operatives committed to a lawfare strategy against American democracy.

The headliner for The Amistad Project is Phill Kline, an attorney with an indefinitely suspended license due to illegally accessing and disclosing private medical records for political purposes. The organization hosted the 2-hour-long January 2, 2021 Zoom conference with state legislators which Trump joined, right after he got off the phone with Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensberger.

Trump called into the meeting and told the legislators, “You are the real power…The most important people are you. You’re more important than the courts. You’re more important than anything because the courts keep referring to you, and you’re the ones that are going to make the decision,” in a 14-minute call into the session.

Several #StopTheSteal movement leaders were on the call. Other attendees included Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who got Trump on the phone; law professor John Eastman; Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade czar who recently authored a book on the election; and John R. Lott Jr., a Justice Department official who also separately authored a report suggesting some 300,000 “excess” ballots were counted, giving Biden his win.

During this call, Trump repeated the contingency plan. The “alternate electors” scheme is the tie that binds the conspiracies together. As it got closer and closer to January 6, all of the different threads of the insurrection tapestry began to converge on the need to obstruct the Congressional certification of Biden’s win.

In fact, Mark Meadows missed the January 2 Zoom meeting with state legislators because he was coordinating the Congressional end of the insurrection with Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, and about 50 Republican U.S. House members. This eventually led to the violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Let’s return to the question which started this essay. Who is responsible for the “fake elector vote count in a box” package? Two lawyers from the Amistad Project seem to be very closely tied operationally to the “alternate electors” scheme: Ian Northon and Erick Kaardal.

Ian Northon implicated himself in the Michigan stunt confrontation on December 14, 2020 at the state capitol building with Michigan State Police. At the 5:20 mark in this video, he says (and spells) his name and announces that he’s with The Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society. That’s pretty clear cut.

Kaardal’s complicity is a little murkier. Kaardal was previously most known for filing the dumbest pro-Trump election lawsuit. No, really – he outdid the Kraken lawyers, at least according to one Twitter lawyer.

Kaardal’s behavior in this case was so bad U.S. District Judge for D.C. District James Boasberg actually referred him to the U.S. District Court’s Committee on Grievances. It’s that very lawsuit, filed on December 22, 2020 which implicates Kaardal in the “alternate electors” scheme. You can find some of the documentation for this case on courtlistener.com.

However, the interesting part is Appendix 12 and, if like me, you don’t have or want a PACER account, you can find it via the Wayback Machine looking through the now-missing Got Freedom? website. Buried almost 1500 pages into Kaardal’s “evidence” are photocopies of two of the fake election certifications (Michigan and Wisconsin).

Recall these false certifications were signed on December 14, 2020; eight days later, Kaardal has copies of them. But, wait, that’s not all. The “alternate” electors have to send off multiple originals to the National Archives, Vice President Mike Pence, so on. In the video of the Nevada signing you will see the “alternate electors” signing six copies of all the documents.

It’s very interesting that Kaardal’s photocopies aren’t copies of the originals sent to the National Archives. He’s got photocopies of different originals. I compared the signatures on the documents from the National Archives with the ones that Kaardal had, on or before December 22, 2020, and realized they’re signed by the same people, but there are minor variations in the signatures, as you would expect when people sign multiple copies at the same time. He had photocopies of originals from two different states – states in which Kaardal doesn’t live.

Would you like to guess what Kaardal’s favorite font is? Baskerville Old Face. Check out the documents he submitted in this dumbest pro-Trump election lawsuit. The “fake elector vote count in a box” package uses the same font and the same margins that Kaardal’s other documents use. He had access to the completed versions well before they were in the public domain.

One More Thing

(Imagine that in Peter Falk’s Columbo voice.) In the course of tracking all this down, I actually read the dumbest pro-Trump lawsuit which Kaardal wrote. Some of it – the not-quite-completely-unhinged parts – seemed familiar. I knew I had read some of these paragraphs before.

I went searching through my OCR’d versions of various documents I had come across – and I found it. You might remember the DOJ coughed up a bunch of documents to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. One of those documents was a draft lawsuit Trump’s assistant sent to Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue which Trump wanted the DOJ to file to overturn the election.

Lo and behold, significant chunks of that lawsuit were copied from Kaardal’s lawsuit. There’s no ethical issue with the copying. It’s just one more indication how closely the The Amistad Project folks were working with key Trump conspirators.

A Look at Michigan’s “Alternate” Electors [UPDATE-1]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Update(s) will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

David Waldman (a.k.a. @KagroX) made an interesting point on Twitter:

If you’re active in a political party this may seem obvious. Having been a party committee member and a delegate, I took for granted most folks would intuit this. A political party won’t have any Average Joe off the street attest to the party’s business; they’ll encourage and/or pick someone they trust who’s an insider.

And in the case of my home state, that’s exactly what happened. The MIGOP picked electors who are active in the party either on committees and/or public officials either elected or appointed.

Which means all these folks who signed the false certification attesting fraudulently to Trump’s win of a majority of Michigan’s votes are highly relevant to the party. They are:

Kathy Berden – Michigan Republican Party national committeewoman

Mayra Rodriguez – Wayne County Public Administrator, former MIGOP candidate for MI state house district 2, Michigan Republican Party 14th District chair for Grosse Pointe Farms

Meshawn Maddock – Co-Chair, Michigan Republican Party

John Haggard – Charlevoix County Republican chair

Kent Vanderwood – Wyoming City Council member

Marian Sheridan – Michigan Republican Party Grassroots vice chair

James Renner – Republican Delegate to County Convention (Watertown Twp, 2020) (replaced Gerald Wall)

Amy Facchinello – Grand Blanc Board of Education member, QAnon supporter

Rose Rook – Van Buren County Republican executive committee member

Hank Choate – Michigan Republican Party 7th District chair

Mari-Ann Henry – Greater Oakland Republican Club member

Clifford Frost – Michigan Republican Party State Committee and Macomb County Republican Party board member

Stanley Grot – Shelby Township Clerk, Michigan Republican Party 10th District chair

Timothy King – Washtenaw County Republican Party executive committee member, Michigan Republican Party 12th District committee member

Michele Lundgren – Wayne County Republican Party precinct delegate

Ken Thompson – TBD (replaced Terri Lynn Land, former MI Secretary of State)

These aren’t exotic fruit bats out in the far right-wing hinterlands; they’re the heart of the Michigan Republican Party.

There are several interesting tidbits about this roster. The first is that two of these folks were replaced by others even though they had been elected in November to their role as electors.

Gerald Wall is the Roscommon County Republican Party Chair. Granted, it’s a less populous county in northern central Michigan, but removing the county chair is a bit of a statement to a fairly red county.

The second replacement raised my eyebrows because Terri Lynn Land was Michigan’s Secretary of State for eight years. She’s had the support of the DeVos family — yes, including Erik Prince’s sister Betsey DeVos nee Prince — receiving campaign donations over multiple terms and candidacies for other public office.

Why were these two elected electors removed and replaced with “alternate” electors James Renner and Ken Thompson — the latter for whom I can find little information.

The slate of candidates running for the legitimate post of Republican electors — assuming a Republican won Michigan’s popular vote — had been contacted for profiles by the Detroit Free Press ahead of the November 2020 election. Several did not respond or refused to be interviewed; what’s indicated here was collected from the internet.

But there’s nothing about the swap of two electors for these new “alternate” electors. One might wonder if either Gerald Wall or Terri Lynn Land refused to serve as electors once a false certification was prepared.

The doozy out of this group is the Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock, wife of state representative Matt Maddock, by whom it has been said the MIGOP had been radicalized.

You’ll want to read this thread by Karen Piper, who profiles Meshawn while connecting more than a few dots:

Maddock’s relationship with Amy Kremer — she of the three-burner-phones and the Willard Hotel — and multiple right-wing protests at Michigan’s state capitol building is particularly interesting. It’s as if the April 15, 2020 drive-in gridlock protest rally and the armed militia protest rally inside the capitol on April 30 were practice runs for the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

If I thought I had standing and a reasonable chance at winning I’d sue each one of these “alt-electors” for attempting to steal the 2020 Michigan presidential election from me and every Michigander who voted for a candidate other than Trump. I’d sue because so many volunteers who are neighbors, friends, and family members honorably worked to ensure a safe and secure election, and these radical right-wing members of the MIGOP tainted their efforts, cast aspersions on our state, and nearly stole our civil rights after we had to put up with weeks of harassment to get to certification.

As former MIGOP leader and Project Lincoln senior advisor Jeff Timmer described Meshawn,

“She is nuts. Her husband is nuts. They are crazy, stupid, and mean,” Timmer tells Metro Times. “They think they are saving the world.”

Um, nope. Not saved, far from it.

Hope Meshawn has a good lawyer; for some reason I don’t think she’ll get much assistance from some of the old school MIGOP.

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UPDATE-1 — 12:30 P.M. 13-JAN-2022 —

Long-time community member WilliamOckham shared in comments last night some pointers about the false certification documents:

First, let me give a shout out to the folks over at AmericanOversight[.]org for liberating the fake electoral vote documents via a FOIA to the National Archives. Several folks have noticed the similarities between the documents. I believe we can make some reasonable judgments about the provenance of these documents that will contribute to our understanding of the overall election conspiracy. Even though all we have is a scanned images pdf, if we analyze the documents with attention to the similarities and differences, we can deduce something about how those documents were produced. If you want to follow along, head over to the American Oversight website and grab a copy of the pdf I’m referencing at /american-oversight-obtains-seven-phony-certificates-of-pro-trump-electors

TL;DR version: These fake electoral certifications all came from a single source and there’s a way to prove it.

First, note that for every state there is a page (pages 7, 17, 21, 25, 28, 30, 32, and 45) that begins with three centered and bolded lines that read:
CERTIFICATE OF THE VOTES OF THE
2020 ELECTORS FROM [STATE]
**********

The first thing to note is that each of those pages is using the same font (with one slight twist that’s very revealing): Baskerville Old Face. That’s a good choice if you want to give your documents a 1776 feel. You see, it’s a digital font based on a lead type design that was first appeared in 1766.

When you start looking closely, you’ll notice that each state’s wording following the title is slightly different. However, they’re all set in Baskerville. In particular, note the “For President” and “For Vice President”. Those are formatted as small caps (the lowercase letters are replaced with smaller versions of the uppercase letters). Do you suppose seven or eight different people all managed to correctly use small caps formatting? Me, neither.

Someone created a digital file (almost certainly a Microsoft Word document) and sent it to the fake electors to fill in. There’s no other explanation for the similarities in the documents. And it’s not just that page. There was even a template for filling vacancies (caused by some electors having, you know, integrity).

One more interesting thing. Look at the first page (page 7 of the pdf). Notice the asterisks. Count the “petals”. There are five. That’s just like the Baskerville Old Face that Microsoft ships with Office and some versions of Windows. Now, look at Wisconsin’s page (page 45). There are six “petals” on the asterisks. Looks like the same font. Except what’s up with the different asterisks? Looks very much like Microsoft Word performing a font substitution. Maybe Wisconsin used the Mac version of Word. Or OpenOffice. Or Google Docs.

Now, here’s how to prove my suppositions. If you have subpoena power or a team of people to do some investigating, start tracking down the people who signed these documents. Ask them for the Word document (or other digital template) that was sent to them. Ask them who sent them and what instructions did they give them.

Hello, conspiracy.