Courage Elections Michigan

An Honest Man, and Other Heroic Republicans Who Rejected the Big Lie

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Ed McBroom is a dairy farmer in Michigan. He is also a Republican state senator who chairs the Oversight Committee of the legislature. It was his job to determine whether the election of 2020 was marked by fraud, as Trump said on many occasions. McBroom led hearings and investigated the claims. After eight months of searching, McBroom said he was unable to find evidence of fraud. His committee’s conclusion: “This Committee found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.”

The stakes could hardly have been higher. Against a backdrop of confusion and suspicion and frightening civic friction—with Trump claiming he’d been cheated out of victory, and anecdotes about fraud coursing through every corner of the state—McBroom had led an exhaustive probe of Michigan’s electoral integrity. His committee interviewed scores of witnesses, subpoenaed and reviewed thousands of pages of documents, dissected the procedural mechanics of Michigan’s highly decentralized elections system, and scrutinized the most trafficked claims about corruption at the state’s ballot box in November. McBroom’s conclusion hit Lansing like a meteor: It was all a bunch of nonsense…

“Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan,” McBroom wrote in the report. “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.”

For good measure, McBroom added: “The Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain…”

Soon after the report was released, Trump issued a thundering statement calling McBroom’s investigation “a cover up, and a method of getting out of a Forensic Audit for the examination of the Presidential contest.” The former president then published the office phone numbers for McBroom and Michigan’s GOP Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, urging his followers to “call those two Senators now and get them to do the right thing, or vote them the hell out of office!”

McBroom had grown up a “history nerd.” He idolized the revolutionary Founders. He inhaled biographies of George Washington and McBroom had grown up a “history nerd.” He idolized the revolutionary Founders. He inhaled biographies of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt. He revered the institution of the American presidency. And here was the 45th president, calling him out by name, accusing him of unthinkable treachery.

The Atlantic has the story. I hope it is not behind a paywall.

The Boston Globe wrote about other Republican officials who investigated the election results in their state and told the truth. The Globe titled its story: They kept the wheels on democracy as Trump tried to steal an election. Now they’re paying the price.

There was Republican Bill Gates, a member of the board of supervisors in Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix). He and his colleagues certified Biden’s victory and were reviled by angry Trump supporters.

There was Liz Cheney, who sacrificed her leadership position in the House of Representatives rather than follow the party line. She put her oath to the Constitution above the wishes of Trump and paid the price.

There was Aaron Van Langevelde, who lost his position on the Michigan Board of State Canvassers because he voted to certify Biden’s victory (Biden led Trump by 150,000 votes in Michigan). The Republican leadership punished him for his courage.

Van Langevelde revealed he faced pressure from political leaders to withhold certification in a March 26 speech at Cardozo Law School, which he provided to the Globe and which has not previously been reported.

“We were asked to take power we didn’t have. What would have been the cost if we had done so?,” Van Langevelde asked. “Constitutional chaos and the loss of our integrity.”

“There were a lot of people who would have preferred I said nothing, voted no, or abstained. I am sure a lot of people didn’t want me to make it to that meeting,” he continued. “I did everything I could to make it to that meeting, even though I knew it would cost me my position on the Board….”

That backlash could very well cost some Republicans their political careers. In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger stood by the election results that gave Biden a narrow, 11,779-vote lead and resisted Trump’s entreaties to “find” more votes for him. Now, Raffensperger faces a challenge from a Trump-endorsed congressman, Jody Hice, who embraced Trump’s “stop the steal” movement. Few in the state are betting on Raffensperger’s survival.

“He’s done, he’s over,” said Jay Williams, a Republican strategist in the state. “There’s just no way he’s going to recover.”

Vice President Mike Pence let Trump’s fictions about the election fester through much of the fall, but he ultimately presided over the certification of Biden’s victory at the Capitol after rioters called for him to be punished — even hanged, some said. The move was widely seen as a betrayal by the Republican base and could imperil his political ambitions…

In Philadelphia, Al Schmidt, a Republican city commissioner, pushed back on the conspiracy theories that revolved around his city through television appearances and press conferences, particularly after Trump claimed repeatedly that, “bad things happen in Philadelphia.”

“They were lying about what was going on in front of us,” said Schmidt, who was still working in the city’s tabulation facility when, on Nov. 11, Trump tweeted about him by name. Soon, he and his family received threats that named his children and called him a traitor.

“What they were really saying is, ‘If you lie, this will go away,’” Schmidt said. He wouldn’t….

As some key officials who resisted election chaos lose their jobs, face uncertain political futures, or retire, experts are also worried about another development. Since January, at least 14 states have passed bills in state houses that give partisan lawmakers more power over elections and election officials….

Gates, the member of the board of supervisors in Phoenix, can see the latest iteration of that from his office. He has a view of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where his county’s ballots were “audited” by a private company in an exercise that is widely seen as a sham.

Gates opposes the audit. He and his colleagues refused to hand over ballots and voting machines until they were forced to do so under a court ruling following a subpoena from the Senate president. He has continued to speak out against the audit, even as it draws a parade of Republicans around the country who have come to admire it.

“This is about an attempt to delegitimize our democratic system,” Gates said.

For now, he is trying not to let the threatening messages — including a voice mail reviewed by the Globe that called for him to be given an “Alabama necktie” — get to him. And though he wrestled with the decision, he’s resolved to run again to keep his job, in an attempt to keep the guardrails on the electoral system for next time.

“If following the law … leads me to losing my next political race, that’s fine,” he said. “We have to stand up to these people.”

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