Former Michigan GOP director says Trump, 11 reps. should be investigated for ‘Big Lie’ efforts

By: - July 29, 2022 1:26 pm

Chanting at a Trump Rally outside the Michigan State Capitol after media outlets declared Joe Biden the winner, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020 | Anna Liz Nichols

State Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) joined the former head of the Michigan GOP and a national elections expert on Thursday to talk Jan. 6 committee hearings in the U.S. House, while doubling down on his call to have some of his GOP colleagues investigated.

“An assault on our democracy, to steal the vote from the people and subvert our election results in Michigan, is an assault on our nation and its founding ideals,” Tate said.

The Democrat joined Jeff Timmer, former Michigan GOP executive director who is now a consultant for both the Lincoln Project and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel’s campaign; and Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) for the virtual press conference.

Rep. Joe Tate | House Democrats photo

Tate last week introduced a House resolution urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate 11 Republican House members for the crime of seditious conspiracy.

State Reps. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.), John Reilly (R-Oakland Twp.), 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) all put their names to briefs in a failed lawsuit that sought to overturn election results.

Maddock, Rendon, Reilly, Griffin and Alexander also attempted to enter the Michigan Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, with a slate of 16 fake Republican electors

During the virtual press conference Thursday, Tate said he has only had “brief interactions” with the Republicans who were named in his resolution since introducing it, but “nothing in terms of substance.” He did not elaborate what the interactions entailed.

When pressed on why he specifically believes the 11 state representatives may have committed the crime of seditious conspiracy — a federal offense that carries up to 20 years in prison — Tate said the members went against their oath of office to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

“For us not to look into this … it reduces the faith and confidence in our elected system as well as our democratic institutions,” Tate said.

Tate, Timmer and Bookbinder also discussed how former President Donald Trump and his allies, including in key states like Michigan, attempted to illegally overthrow the election in his favor. They cited the Jan. 6 House panel, which recently held its final hearing this summer and showcased what Trump failed to do during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The press conference was hosted by the Defend Democracy Project.

“I, at least, have been blown away by how much we have learned at every single one of those eight hearings, and particularly what we’ve learned in terms of the vast evidence of what Donald Trump and his allies knew,” Bookbinder said.

Reiterating that Trump knew he had rightfully lost the election but chose to pursue the election anyway, Bookbinder added: “When you have a president who seeks to stay in power, despite losing an election, despite the will of the people, that is an attempt to install a dictator. That is an attempt to install a dictatorship.”

Timmer served as the Michigan Republican Party Executive Director from 2005 to 2009. He left the party during the Trump era.

Jeff Timmer

“I never thought I would have to be standing here, telling my former Republican colleagues that truth and facts matter,” Timmer said.

He shared that within conversations he’s had with high level officials in the Republican Party, those officials say that the “rhetoric from Trump on down about the stolen election has left them with no choice but to continue this … façade.”

“They know that there wasn’t fraud, that there weren’t irregularities, but they feel that they have no choice given where their base, where their voters come down on this issue.”

Timmer emphasized that this effort did not stop after Jan. 6, 2021, but it is a process that is “continuing.”

“There are still efforts being made to install election deniers in these county canvassing positions or equivalent in other states, where they’re looking to put in place people who will throw wrenches into the certification of the 2022 election and the 2024 election, depending on whether or not their side wins or loses.

“If democracy has to rely on who is counting the votes, rather than we all trust in the fairness of who’s counting the votes, we’re in real trouble.”

On Tate’s resolution to investigate the Michigan representatives, Bookbinder zeroed in on Maddock, Rendon, Reilly, Griffin and Alexander and said they could be particularly exposed to possible charges since they attempted to push through the slate of false electors.

“It is clear that the fake elector scheme is one that is of central interest to the Department of Justice,” Bookbinder said.

“The efforts to substitute false slates of electors seems straight down the middle violation of that federal offense, at the very least. So I think for Michigan state representatives who were centrally involved in those efforts to push through a false slate of electors, there really could be some exposure there.”


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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.