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AG says Nevada will not bring charges against GOP ‘fake electors,’ urges law change

Sean Golonka
Sean Golonka
Criminal JusticeElection 2020ElectionsLegislature

Attorney General Aaron Ford said Thursday that his office will not bring charges under existing state laws against the six Republicans who in 2020 falsely pledged Nevada’s electoral votes to former President Donald Trump, despite him losing the election to President Joe Biden, meaning there will not be a state prosecution of the so-called “fake electors.”

“As you all know, I have been silent on Nevada’s fake electors, except to say that the matter was on our radar,” Ford, a Democrat, said during a Thursday hearing of a bill intended to explicitly criminalize fake elector schemes, referencing comments he made in January. “With it on our radar, we ascertained that current state statutes did not directly address the conduct in question — to the dismay of some, and I’m sure, to the delight of others.”

Ford said he would continue to assist the federal Department of Justice in its investigation into the matter. Two top Nevada Republicans, including state party Chair Michael McDonald, were subject to a congressional subpoena over the fake elector scheme, with records publicly released late last year

A report on false electors from the policy research group Brookings found the six GOP Nevada electors could potentially be liable under state laws making “it illegal to falsify ‘any record,’” and prohibiting people from “performing the duties of public officials without authorization.” However, Ford’s comments Thursday indicate that state law enforcement officials did not find those laws were directly applicable.

He provided those comments while speaking in support of SB133, a bill from Sen. Skip Daly (D-Sparks) that would establish felony criminal penalties for anyone who participates in “creating a false slate of presidential electors, serving in a false slate of presidential electors or conspiring to create or serve in a false slate of presidential electors.” The bill passed out of the Senate in late April, with two Democratic senators — Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas) and James Ohrenschall (D-Las Vegas) — joining Republicans in opposition over concerns about high criminal penalties included in the bill.

Anyone found guilty of that crime would face four to 10 years imprisonment and would not be eligible for probation. They would also be barred from holding public office or being employed by the state. 

Alleged violations of the law would be investigated by the secretary of state’s office or attorney general’s office.

“With this bill, Nevada law will make it clear that those involved in schemes such as those undertaken by Nevada’s fake electors can be held accountable,” Ford said.


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