LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Nevada Attorney General’s Office is investigating Nevada Republicans’ submission of fake electoral certificates to the federal government, claiming former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, the 8 News Now Investigators confirmed Wednesday.
The Nevada Republican Party’s six electors, including party chair Michael McDonald, signed paperwork signaling their support for Trump in a symbolic ceremony devoid of any legal merit and coinciding with the official state-sanctioned tally on Dec. 14, 2020.
In an interview in September, Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford said an investigation was not off the table, even after telling the state legislature there was no statute he knew of that addressed the fake electors.
“I’ve never said that we’re not going to prosecute,” Ford told 8 News Now Investigator David Charns in September. “It is not that I’ve said that I can do nothing. What I have said, and I’ve been precise with my wording on purpose, is we don’t have statutes in this state that directly address the issue.”
Former Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said a state investigator contacted him as part of the investigation, Gloria told 8 News Now.
“Our brave electors standing up for what is right and casting their electoral votes for @realDonaldTrump,” the state party’s Twitter account, the platform now called X, later posted. “We believe in fair elections and will continue the fight against voter fraud in the Silver State!”
That same day as the Republican elector ceremony, then-Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, oversaw the state-sanctioned electoral ceremony where Nevada Democrats’ electors signed certificates, sending them to Washington. In presidential elections, voters actually vote for party electors and not a presidential candidate.
No widespread voter fraud was ever discovered in Nevada. The state supreme court denied the Trump campaign’s request to overturn the state’s election results and proclaim the then-president the winner. Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes, a result the court certified that November. Several Republicans, including Cegavske and then-Attorney General William Barr, said there was no evidence of any widespread fraud.
As the 8 News Now Investigators reported in December 2021, the certificate sent by Nevada Republicans and received by the National Archives looks much different than the official state-sealed one and reads, “We, the undersigned, being the duly elected and qualified electors for president and vice president of the United States of America from the State of Nevada, do hereby certify six electoral votes for Trump.”
In a statement after the document signing, McDonald said the party’s electors convened in Carson City due to ongoing legal battles seeking to overturn the election results. At that point in mid-December 2020, no legal case remained open in Nevada.
Senate Bill 133 would have penalized anyone who conspires and who transmits a fake elector certificate in Nevada. The bill passed along party lines. Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo then vetoed it, saying its penalties were too harsh.
The Jan. 6 committee interviewed both McDonald and Republican elector Jim DeGraffenreid. Both men invoked their Fifth Amendment rights repeatedly — McDonald more than 200 times. Neither has returned repeated requests for comment.
The purpose of sending the electoral certificates was to force Congress to decide the presidential election, according to people whom the committee interviewed. A legal advisor to the Trump campaign, Kenneth Chesebro, emailed DeGraffenreid about the plan, the committee found.
“Urgent – Trump-Pence campaign asked me to contact you to coordinate Dec. 14 voting by Nevada electors,” an email subject line sent to Nevada Republican Party national committee member Jim DeGraffenreid read.
In August, a federal grand jury indicted Trump on charges connected to his alleged attempts to overthrow the election results and the leadup to Jan. 6.
Ford made it clear the issue was not political.
“What I don’t do though — and I want to be very clear about this — I don’t make prosecutorial decisions based on partisan or political preferences,” he said. “Never have.”
The Nevada GOP has never responded to requests for comment about the fake electors. The party repeatedly denied requests from 8 News Now to review the evidence throughout the fall of 2020. At a news conference on Nov. 5, 2020, where surrogates from the Trump campaign announced a federal lawsuit, which was later dropped, speakers told reporters to find the evidence for themselves. That lawsuit was later dismissed voluntarily. During the sole hearing in that case, a lawyer provided no evidence of fraud and did not verbally bring up any evidence to the federal judge.
The attorney general’s office declined to comment. Politico first reported the developments Wednesday.