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Michigan attorney general announces charges against 16 "false electors"

Michigan attorney general announces charges against 16 "false electors"
Michigan attorney general announces charges against 16 "false electors" 01:05

(CBS DETROIT) - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday felony charges against 16 people accused of being part of a false electors scheme in the 2020 general election.

Each person is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit uttering and publishing, one count of uttering and publishing, one count of conspiracy to commit election law forgery, and two counts of election law forgery.

Among those charged is Meshawn Maddock, the former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, according to a press release. Maddock's husband, Rep. Matt Maddock, serves on the Michigan House of Representatives.

Others charged include:

  • Kathy Berden, 70, of Snover 
  • William (Hank) Choate, 72, of Cement City 
  • Amy Facchinello, 55, of Grand Blanc 
  • Clifford Frost, 75, of Warren 
  • Stanley Grot, 71, of Shelby Township 
  • John Haggard, 82, of Charlevoix 
  • Mary-Ann Henry, 65, of Brighton 
  • Timothy King, 56, of Ypsilanti 
  • Michele Lundgren, 73, of Detroit 
  • James Renner, 76, of Lansing 
  • Mayra Rodriguez, 64, of Grosse Pointe Farms 
  • Rose Rook, 81, of Paw Paw 
  • Marian Sheridan, 69, of West Bloomfield 
  • Ken Thompson, 68, of Orleans 
  • Kent Vanderwood, 69, of Wyoming 

"The false electors' actions undermined the public's faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan," Nessel said in a statement. "My department has prosecuted numerous cases of election law violations throughout my tenure, and it would be malfeasance of the greatest magnitude if my department failed to act here in the face of overwhelming evidence of an organized effort to circumvent the lawfully cast ballots of millions of Michigan voters in a presidential election." 

In the announcement posted on social media, Nessel alleges the 16 people met in the basement of the Michigan GOP headquarters on Dec. 14, 2020, and signed their names on multiple certificates to show they were the elected and qualified electors for the president and vice president of the United States, read the press release.

Nessel also alleges that they then attempted to enter the state Capitol and "deliver their fabricated electoral votes to the Senate floor but were turned away."

"The false electoral documents were then conveyed to the United States Senate and the National Archives, with the intent that Vice President Pence would overturn the results of the election using the false electoral slate," she said.

An investigation is ongoing, but officials say each defendant has been notified of the charges and will receive the date they'll need to appear for an arraignment in the 54-A District Court in Ingham County.

Nessel says they have not ruled out potential charges against more people.

"Every serious challenge to the election had been denied, dismissed, or otherwise rejected by the time the false electors convened.  There was no legitimate legal avenue or plausible use of such a document or an alternative slate of electors," Nessel said in a statement. "There was only the desperate effort of these defendants, who we have charged with deliberately attempting to interfere with and overturn our free and fair election process, and along with it, the will of millions of Michigan voters.  That the effort failed and democracy prevailed does not erase the crimes of those who enacted the false electors' plot."   

In a statement on Tuesday, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the charges are "the first ongoing effort to not just seek justice for the wrongs of the past, but to ensure they do not happen again."

"As Michigan's Chief Election Officer, I have a sworn duty to follow the rule of law, protect and defend the legal vote of every Michigan citizen, and ensure our elections are safe, secure, and accurate. As we begin to see accountability and justice for those who were part of an actionable plan to subvert the will of the people in 2020, we must also remember that we are still in the midst of a nationally coordinated effort to weaken democracy," Benson said.

"My office looks forward to fully cooperating with any subsequent legal efforts to bring those who violated the law to justice."

Hours before Nessel announced the charges, former President Donald Trump posted on social media, saying he received a letter indicating he is the target of a criminal investigation alleging attempts to interfere with the transfer of power after the election.

Sources confirmed to CBS News that Trump received a target letter on Sunday related to the Jan. 6 investigation.

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