Report: Local GOP leaders continue to push 2020 election conspiracies

By: - July 7, 2021 4:14 pm

Progress Michigan report on local GOP leaders spreading election misinformation

Updated, 5:41 p.m., 7/7/21 with a response from Senate Republicans

The liberal group Progress Michigan released on Wednesday a report detailing how Michigan Republican county-level leaders continue to hang onto conspiracy-laden lies surrounding Michigan’s 2020 election.

The report analyzed Facebook posts from dozens of Michigan GOP county organization sites between Nov. 3, 2020, and June 30. Data showed that active groups continue to push election misinformation about the November 2020 general election in which President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump, including a more than 154,000-vote victory in Michigan.

Last month the GOP-led state Senate Oversight Committee chaired by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) released a 35-page report debunking claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 general election.

“Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan,” the Senate report read. “The committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”

However, some GOP officials in Washington and Lansing continue to push myths about the 2020 election. State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) has introduced legislation for an Arizona-style “forensic audit.”

Progress Michigan’s report documents that local GOP leaders also have spread misinformation.

The group compiled social media posts that include calls for “Stop the Steal” rallies from the Alcona, Marquette, Charlevoix and Emmet county Republican parties.

The Washtenaw County GOP posted a cartoon on April 30 of Trump vowing to “take back what’s mine” from Biden carrying an “Election Theft” bag, while scooping up the states of Michigan, Nevada, Georgia Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — which Trump all lost with no evidence of voter fraud. The party writes, “Join the Washtenaw County Party and help bring him [Trump] back!”

“After more than six months of bogus election hearings and efforts to amplify conspiracy theories, Republican lawmakers like Ed McBroom and [Senate Majority Leader] Mike Shirkey [R-Clarklake] are now trying to distance themselves from the Big Lie,” said Sam Inglot, deputy director of Progress Michigan. 

“But as this report shows, their tepid attempts to undo the damage the Big Lie has done to their party come too late to contain the spread of racist and undemocratic conspiracy theories in their base. Republican lawmakers and high-level officials have had countless chances to push back against the lies perpetuated by Trump and his allies and the violence that has resulted — but instead, they helped the disinformation spread. GOP leaders opened Pandora’s box last November, and they have only themselves to blame for the effect the Big Lie has had on their party.”

Senate GOP spokeswoman Abby Walls responded: “We need to focus on unity, not pushing around partisan reports meant to further divide us.”*

A spokesperson for the Michigan GOP did not immediately return requests for comment.

The report found that 98% of active county Republican Party Facebook pages — those that tend to post on at least a weekly basis — have made posts alluding to the “Big Lie” that election fraud cost Trump the election.

And 64% of county Republican Party Facebook pages have alluded to a “stolen” election, massive voter fraud, or the need for an election audit since Nov. 3.

Misinformation isn’t limited to social media posts, the report said, as much of the content in the report includes calls for supporters to participate in real-life events.

Three counties where misinformation spread has been more significant than other areas of the state are Alcona, Hillsdale and Gladwin, said Erin Lodes of Progress Michigan during a news conference.

“There are many posts about what action can be taken to overturn the results of the election, both before and after the Capitol insurrection, and while many pages shared a condemnation of the violence at the Capitol on January 6th, other posts continue to hint at violent remedies to the ‘stolen election,’” the report reads.

Inglot said that state Republicans “need to get onboard with reality.”

“We need Republican lawmakers to be accountable in talking to their supporters, talking to their base and educating them about the facts when it comes to what happened in Michigan’s election,” said Inglot. 


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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.