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Kelly denies connection to alternate electoral votes

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th. File Photo.
Wis. senator claims Kelly’s office forwarded false slates

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, claimed the office of a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania provided his office with alternate slates of electors in connection with the 2020 presidential election in a radio interview Thursday.

Johnson told Wisconsin radio host Vicki McKenna the documents, which contained fabricated electoral college votes from Michigan and Wisconsin, and which Johnson’s office sought on Jan. 6, 2021, to give to then-Vice President Mike Pence, came from the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th.

Kelly’s office denies the allegations.

“We found out, now, this came from Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly’s office. We couldn’t even remember who’d given this to us,” Johnson said. “We didn’t know what it was. We thought it was documents involved in the electors.”

Kelly’s spokesman, Matthew Knoedler, said Thursday that Johnson’s allegations are false.

“Sen. Johnson’s statements about Rep. Kelly are patently false,” Knoedler said. “Mr. Kelly has not spoken to Sen. Johnson for the better part of a decade, and he has no knowledge of the claims Mr. Johnson is making related to the 2020 election.”

Johnson’s radio comments come two days after documents publicized by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol showed that an aide to Johnson, Sean Riley, worked to have Pence recognize fake elector slates from Michigan and Wisconsin.

Michigan and Wisconsin were two of seven states in which illegitimate electors, who were not chosen by their states’ voters, sent electoral votes to the National Archives. In addition to those two states, the archives received fake votes from Republicans in Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania, all of which went for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Johnson said he had planned to object to accepting electors in states where he said the results were in dispute. He signed on to the objection of Arizona’s electors, which happened before the attack, but then voted to accept those electors later. The attack on the U.S. Capitol occurred while members of Congress debated the objection to Arizona’s electors.

Johnson did not object to accepting Wisconsin's votes, but two of the state's Republican congressmen did.

The evidence presented by the Jan. 6 committee showed a back and forth between Johnson aide Sean Riley and Pence staff member Chris Hodgson at 12:37 p.m. Jan. 6, 2021.

“Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise,” Riley texted Hodgson.

“What is it?” Hodgson replied.

“Alternate slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn’t receive them,” Riley wrote back.

Hodgson responded, “Do not give that to him.”

If Pence had recognized the two false slates, former President Donald Trump would have been provided 258 electoral votes, still 12 short of the 270 necessary to achieve a victory in the election.

Wisconsin Republicans met at the state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, the same day as 10 Democratic electors awarded the state’s electoral votes to Biden, who carried the battleground state by just under 21,000 votes. The Republican electors forwarded the false votes for Trump to the National Archives, arguing that they were trying to preserve Trump's legal options in case a court overturned Biden's win.

The fake votes were ignored at the National Archives, according to the Associated Press.

On Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress tallied the electoral votes, two U.S. Representatives objected to the electors from the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, but the objections were not debated after no senator objected. Challenges to states’ electoral slates are considered only if at least one representative and one senator object.

Similar objections were debated for the electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania, which voted for Biden. Kelly ultimately voted to reject the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.