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FACT SHEET: House Republicans Continue Pushing The Election Denier Playbook In Latest DC Hearing

Jun 6, 2023

This week, House Republicans are hosting a joint hearing targeting the District of Columbia’s election administration. However, instead of seeking the testimony of voting rights experts, they are exploiting Congress to conduct a sham demonstration in an attempt to once again blatantly undermine and decimate American trust in democracy and the systems that give every citizen the freedom to have their vote counted. Their first witness, former Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, abused his position within the department by carrying out desperate efforts to rig the 2020 election for Trump. Meanwhile, another witness is a longtime Republican election lawyer who sought to halt certification of the same election. The House GOP is beholden to Trump’s lies and conspiracy theories and, as always, would rather uplift fringe figures than address the issues Americans are most concerned about. 

​​Ken Cuccinelli is a MAGA loyalist and former Trump administration official who was appointed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2019 after Trump circumvented traditional nomination processes to appoint MAGA partisans without Senate confirmation.

  • Cuccinelli Was Deeply Involved In Efforts To Undermine the 2020 Presidential Election. While serving in DHS, Cuccinelli played a key role in setting elections policy for the Trump administration and was involved in efforts to undermine the 2020 election. Trump even considered him for a special appointment to seek out election fraud on behalf of the White House after the election. In November 2020, Cuccinelli massaged then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about Dominion voting machine conspiracies. Cuccinelli told the January 6 Select Committee that he didn’t remember Trump saying the election was ‘rigged’ — even though countless media appearances say otherwise — and later testified to a federal grand jury investigating 2020 election interference.
  • Cuccinelli Has Repeatedly Spread False & Unproven Election Conspiracy Theories. Cuccinelli is a longtime peddler of election conspiracy theories. He suggested that former President Obama stole the 2012 election nearly a decade ago, and in the aftermath of the 2020 election he has spread misinformation about election security related to voter ID laws and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, endorsed an election denier who ran to be Kansas Secretary Of State, and recently told the House Administration Committee that Michigan’s refusal to purge voting rolls was “‘to have muddy voter rolls that can be exploited’” for election fraud.
  • Cuccinelli Chairs An Advocacy Group That Continues To Spread Trump’s Election Fraud Lies and Pushes For State-Level Voting Restrictions. Cuccinelli now runs the Election Transparency Initiative, which has been active in pushing state-level voting restriction measures. Cuccinelli worked with Christian nationalists to restrict voting ahead of the 2022 midterm elections and recently spearheaded a two-day conference for GOP election officials discussing so-called election integrity following the MAGA election denier playbook. The Initiative has received millions in funding from a shadowy fund linked to a “quiet architect” of the right-wing legal movement who helped fuel the rise of almost every recent Republican Supreme Court candidate.
  • Cuccinelli Is A Right-Wing Extremist Who Had “No Shot” Of Being Confirmed Even During The Trump Administration. Cuccinelli built his reputation as a Tea Party outsider who launched a PAC that worked to mobilize right-wing challengers against Republican incumbents in the Senate. Former President Trump was likely forced to appoint him to DHS in an “acting capacity” because he reportedly had “no shot of Senate confirmation.”
  • Cuccinelli Is An Anti-Immigrant Hardliner Who Founded A Group Calling Undocumented Immigrants “Foreign Invaders.” Prior to the Trump administration, Cuccinelli helped found a group that called undocumented immigrants “foreign invaders” supposedly responsible for “serious infectious diseases, drug running, gang violence, human trafficking, terrorism.” He later introduced a “draconian” bill that would have fired workers for not speaking English in the workplace and disqualified them from unemployment benefits, then praised “open white nationalist” former Rep. Steve King (R-IA) as “one of my very favorite Congressmen.”

Charles Spies is a “revolving door” lobbyist and former Federal Elections Commission counsel who has worked closely with the Republican Party and served as counsel for numerous high-budget PACs and Super PACs. 

  • Spies Represented A Michigan Election Denier Who Refused To Concede In 2020. The Republican campaign finance lawyer helped represent defeated Senate candidate John James (R-MI), an election denier who refused to concede his 2020 election loss and disputed the results.
  • In 2020, Spies Sent a Letter To Detroit Election Officials Casting Doubt On Results & Alleging “Irregularities.” “While representing a losing Republican in 2020, Spies attended a Detroit-based Board of Canvassers meeting, where he told canvassers: “This whole process has been rife with questions, we’re very concerned…it calls into question the integrity of this whole process.” He also sent a letter to the Wayne County Clerk, reportedly alleging that his client’s campaign had “received ‘hundreds of reports of irregularities’ in the processing of absentee ballots. Spies claimed the reports, primarily focused on Wayne County’s operations at TCF Center in Detroit, ‘casts serious doubt on the validity of the results of the election.’”