Tate resolution urges DOJ to investigate 11 Michigan GOP lawmakers for seditious conspiracy

Dozen Republican House members all took part in 2020 ‘big lie’ scheme

By: - July 21, 2022 4:53 pm

Donald Trump Supporters march around the Michigan State Capitol Building to protest the certification of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States on January 6, 2021 in Lansing, Michigan. Trump supporters gathered at state capitals across the country to protest today’s ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. | Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

Updated 3:16 p.m., 7/22/2022 with comment from Rep. Paquette

A House resolution introduced by state Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) on Wednesday calls for 11 of his Republican colleagues to be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for the crime of seditious conspiracy.

State Reps. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.), John Reilly (R-Oakland), Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), Matt Maddock (R-Milford), Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), Brad Paquette (R-Niles), Rodney Wakeman (R-Saginaw Twp.), Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock) and Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) participated in a failed lawsuit and took other actions to attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of former President Donald Trump.

“These were crimes, plain and simple, committed by our public servants and in the halls of our own state Capitol,” Tate said in a statement. “Each of these Republican lawmakers knew what they were doing, working to overturn the free and fair presidential election, to keep the corrupt former president in power.”

The resolution has not yet been given a number or formally read in.

“Eleven sitting members of the House of Representatives conspired against democracy, the people of Michigan, and the peaceful transition of power that has upheld our republic and our way of life since the days of George Washington,” added Tate, who additionally served as the clerk for the December 2020 election certification in the Michigan Senate chamber.

Democratic President Joe Biden received 2.8 million votes in Michigan, while Trump received 2.6 million. Nonetheless, and despite no evidence for their claims, Trump and his GOP allies across the country embarked on a quest to overturn the election results alleging voter fraud.

In his House resolution, Tate outlines how the 11 Michigan lawmakers took part in a “pattern of misleading statements about the November 2020 election and actions taken to delay and deny the peaceful transition of power,” which ultimately “culminated in an insurrection against the United States government on January 6, 2021.”

The federal crime of seditious conspiracy entails two or more persons conspiring to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force” the U.S. government; to “levy war” against it; to forcibly oppose its authority; to forcibly prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any U.S. law; or to forcibly seize, take or possess any property of the United States contrary to its authority.

“They shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both,” reads Title 18, Section 2384 of the United States code.

Tate’s resolution cites the oath of office taken by elected officials in Michigan before going on to claim that the GOP lawmakers involved in the effort “have acted contrary to federal law and to their oath of office.”

In addition to participating in the lawsuit, five of the House members — Maddock, Rendon, Reilly, Griffin and Alexander — also attempted to enter the Michigan Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020 with 16 fake Republican electors.

Those electors sought to falsely certify that Michigan’s 16 votes in the Electoral College were to be cast for Trump’s ticket. They were denied entry to the Capitol by Michigan State Police officers.

“The plain facts of these crimes have been public for months — they attempted this coup in broad daylight and in clear view of the press and the whole world to see, we must demand these 11 representatives face the accountability they have so far eluded,” House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) said Wednesday.

Ten of the lawmakers did not return a request for comment from the Advance.

In an email Friday, Paquette accused Tate of “a high level of dangerous incompetence” by accusing him and others of seditious conspiracy. He also baselessly claimed that “many questionable actions” were taken under the guise of safety” by the state during the election.

“I hope it was simply Rep Tate’s lack of judgement in listening to the wrong advisor who seeks to weaponize positions of power to stifle opposition,” Tate said.*

In addition to Eisen, Reilly, Alexander, Maddock, Rendon, Griffin, Hoitenga, Paquette, Wakeman, Markkanen and O’Malley, state Sen. Douglas Wozniak (R-Shelby Twp.) — who was a member of the Michigan House at the time — also filed the motion in the failed lawsuit. Tate’s resolution names him, but does not ask the DOJ to investigate him like the others.

In January 2022, Attorney General Dana Nessel asked the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan to investigate the 16 fraudulent signees in Michigan and the larger, connected conspiracy in other states.

She told reporters that she chose not to file charges under Michigan law and instead refer the case to federal authorities because of their nationwide jurisdiction, but emphasized that she would hold the Republicans accountable if the federal government does not intervene.

With this in mind, Tate’s resolution urges the DOJ, including the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, to also investigate the lawmakers who took part in the “Big Lie” scheme.

Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said the measure is “a step toward progress and praised Tate and his colleagues for continuing to speak up about the issue.

“Not only has there been no accountability, but many of the lawmakers named in the resolution continue to tout their anti-voter actions as a point of pride,” Scott said.

“ … We need even more urgency and action as those who tried to disenfranchise Michigan voters need to be held accountable or they may try again.”

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.