A group of 10 Republicans who acted as “alternate” electors in Wisconsin during the 2020 presidential election and signed documents saying Donald Trump won the state’s electoral votes have settled a civil suit against them by affirming that Joe Biden was the winner.
In a deal announced Wednesday, the so-called fake electors agreed to issue a statement acknowledging that their efforts were “part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 presidential election results” and not to act as electors again in any election in which Trump is on the ballot.
“Wisconsin voters have been awaiting accountability for 3 years, and it is beyond time to hold those who perpetrated this scheme responsible for their actions,” one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, Jeff Mandell of Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, said in a statement. “This settlement agreement provides one piece of that accountability and helps ensure that a similar effort to subvert our democracy will never happen again.”
The suit, filed last year by two Biden electors and a Wisconsin voter, alleged that the false electors and Trump attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Jim Troupis engaged in a civil conspiracy and violated state and federal laws. The plaintiffs sought $2.4 million in damages.
As a result of the settlement, the 10 fake electors do not have to pay any money damages.
Chesebro and Troupis are not part of the settlement, and the claims against them continue, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said.
Chesebro has pleaded guilty to criminal charges based on similar allegations in Fulton County, Georgia. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Neither did an attorney for Troupis.
Under the settlement, the fake electors agreed to assist the plaintiffs with their claims against the Trump lawyers and to cooperate with any “ongoing or future Department of Justice investigations related to interference with the 2020 presidential election or the certification of electoral votes on January 6, 2021.”
One of the Trump electors, then-Wisconsin Republic Party Chairman Andrew Hitt, said in a statement that he and the others “were tricked and misled into participating in what became the alternate elector scheme and would have never taken any actions had we known that there were ulterior reasons beyond preserving an ongoing legal strategy.”
He said he “will not be supporting Trump in 2024” and has “been working with the Department of Justice since May of 2022.”
The fake electors scheme, in which bogus electoral votes for Trump were to be offered as legitimate during the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, is a key component of special counsel Jack Smith’s criminal election interference case against Trump. The indictment alleges Trump pressed officials in seven battleground states, including Wisconsin, to subvert the election results and subsequent electoral votes.
Trump lost the vote in those seven states by varying margins, with Biden beating him in Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes.
Some of the electors have said they were told the certificates they signed would be used only if there were successful legal challenges in those states.
Criminal charges have now been brought against fake electors in three of the states. In Nevada, six electors were charged Wednesday.
In a statement included in the settlement, the 10 fake electors from Wisconsin say they “took the foregoing action because they were told that it was necessary to preserve their electoral votes in the event a court challenge may later change the outcome of the election in Wisconsin. That document was then used as part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 presidential election results.”
They also said they “reaffirm” Biden’s win in the state and “oppose any attempt to undermine the public’s faith in the ultimate results of the 2020 presidential election.”
“We hereby withdraw the documents we executed on December 14, 2020, and request that they be disregarded by the public and all entities to which they were submitted,” they added.
Trump has pleaded not guilty in the federal election interference case, as well as the Fulton County case.