GOP-led Michigan Senate probe: No election fraud -- and time to go after those who claimed it

Issues? Sure. Defects? More than a few. Recommendations for improvements? Several, most of which are common sense. However, an investigation by Michigan’s state senate — run by the majority Republicans on its oversight committee — found no evidence of massive fraud on any scale, let alone enough to overturn Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote win in November.

” The Committee recommends the attorney general consider investigating those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends,” they write:

A months-long Republican investigation into Michigan’s 2020 election uncovered no evidence of widespread fraud and concluded Wednesday with a recommendation the attorney general investigate those who made false claims for “personal gain.”

The 35-page report prepared by Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, dives deep to debunk conspiracy theories perpetuated by former President Donald Trump and some of his supporters in the wake of the Michigan election, which Democratic President Joe Biden won by 154,188 votes.

While the Senate Oversight Committee investigation revealed some “glaring issues” and vulnerabilities the Legislature should fix, “there is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters,” McBroom wrote.

“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 report concluded. “The committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”

You can read the full report here. While the committee did find irregularities and failures, the scale on all of these was so small as to be negligible in terms of impact at any level. They’re the kinds of problems one would normally find in any election — problems worth solving once found, of course, but not anywhere near significant enough to erode confidence in election results. On that point, the two-paragraph conclusion is both concise and unambiguous about the so-called “steal”:

The Committee can confidently assert that it has been thorough in examination of numerous allegations of unlawful actions, improper procedures, fraud, vote theft, or any other description which would cause citizens to doubt the integrity of Michigan’s 2020 election results. 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 Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain. We also conclude citizens should demand reasonable updates and reforms to close real vulnerabilities and unlawful activities that caused much of the doubt and questionability to flourish and could, if unchecked, be responsible for serious and disastrous fraud or confusion in the future.

Further, we commend the innumerable clerks, canvassers, staff, workers, and volunteers across Michigan that make the enormous complexity of elections operate so smoothly, so often. The complexity of the work and the dedication we discovered are astounding and worthy of our sincerest appreciation. We also commend the diligent citizens that took time to report problems and concerns they saw because they want and value fair and free elections above party or personal gain. If all citizens remain vigilant and involved, we will emerge stronger after any challenging time.

Who did the committee mean in their call to go after those who “pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain”? I doubt they mean Donald Trump specifically. It’s most likely a reference to Sidney Powell and orgs that pushed the “stop the steal” messaging for specific fundraising purposes. Powell already faces a sanctions effort in Michigan over her legal claims and tactics in her election challenges:

A federal judge has summoned Sidney Powell and other lawyers accused of peddling false fraud claims in the aftermath of the 2020 election to Detroit for a sanctions hearing.

Judge Linda Parker ordered Powell and Michigan attorneys Greg Rohl, Scott Hagerstrom, and Stefanie Junttila to appear before a judge at 2 p.m. on July 6, according to the Detroit Free Press. The decision follows a request from Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, who argued Powell’s effort to overturn Michigan’s election victory for President Joe Biden was based on debunked lies. …

Nessel announced during an end-of-year phone briefing that penalties may be warranted against members of the Trump legal team and their allies who have made “what we believe to be an intentional misrepresentation” of facts in election-related lawsuits.

“I think we need to go back to a time where you can trust an attorney is making an accurate and truthful representation to the court because if they don’t, then they won’t be able to practice law anymore,” she added.

It will be otherwise tough to go after political activists engaged in free political speech — and it should be nearly impossible. If these activists raised money from “stop the steal” pitches and spent it on personal purchases, that would be prosecutable fraud regardless of whether the “steal” was real or not. If they spent it on political activism, however, then they’re just wrong, not acting in a criminal fashion. Powell, on the other hand, has a duty as an officer of the court and member of the bar to refrain from false claims and misrepresentations in court. If a court finds she did that deliberately, Powell could lose her license to practice.

That’s probably as far as anyone can take it, and it’s as far as anyone should take it — in a punitive legal sense, anyway. Politically, the stink from the dead Kraken should stick to its practitioners for the rest of their lives.