Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Arizona State Senator Accuses Governor, A.G., of Trying to Send Him to Jail Over 2020 Election

Anthony Kern lashes out Monday at Democrats who are investigating his role and that of 10 other fake electors who sought to set aside the results of the 2020 presidential race.
Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer
Anthony Kern lashes out Monday at Democrats who are investigating his role and that of 10 other fake electors who sought to set aside the results of the 2020 presidential race.

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Fake elector Anthony Kern is accusing Attorney General Kris Mayes and Gov. Katie Hobbs of seeking to send him to jail.

In a statement delivered Monday on the steps of the Maricopa County Superior Court, the state senator from Glendale and GOP congressional candidate said all he did is be part of a challenge to the results of the 2020 election. That specifically included signing a statement on Dec. 14, 2020 declaring that he and 10 other Republicans were the true electors for the state despite the official vote tally already finding that Joe Biden had outpolled Donald Trump by 10,457 votes.

But his statement comes as Mayes has launched a state grand jury probe to determine if the fake electors -- Kern would call them alternate electors -- broke any laws when they submitted their slate to the National Archives as the official list from Arizona.
A spokesman for Mayes would only say that the criminal probe is ongoing. He would not respond to anything Kern said.

Hobbs declined to comment.

While Kern would not take questions, the statement is unusual as it is the first detailed comment from any of the 11 electors since the criminal probe was launched. And it provides a hint of at least part of what is likely to be a defense if a grand jury hands up an indictment.

"I will not let Gov. Hobbs, Attorney General Kris Mayes or Democrat Party 'lawfare' suppress my exercise of the rule of law or suppress my ability to preserve, protect and defend the constitutional freedoms that our republic was founded upon.'

At the heart of the probe is the question of whether any laws were broken.

There is no question but that Kern and others did sign that statement declaring themselves the official electors even after the results were certified showing Trump lost. They also sent that statement to the National Archives to declare that Trump was entitled to Arizona's 11 electoral votes.

One of the issues that could determine if charges will be filed is whether Kern and the others had an intent to commit fraud or whether this was simply a backup slate to be ready should litigation or other action show that Trump actually had won the race here.
But prosecutors in other states already have moved forward, saying this was all part of a scheme hatched in the White House by those close to Trump to convince Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to accept the official results reported by Arizona and other states. The goal, according to charges in those other states, was to prevent Biden from getting the necessary 270 votes

Pence refused, even as demonstrators -- including Kern -- protested outside of Congress in an event that became violent, though there is no evidence that the senator participated in any of that.

In his 4-minute statement Monday -- he would not take any questions -- Kern said he did nothing wrong in signing the statement as an elector.

"I was an alternate elector in November 2020 for President Donald Trump,'' he said.
"I was asked to step up along with other ordinary citizens and I chose to accept,'' Kern continued. "I was honored and will always be honored to preserve the constitutional election challenges filed by both the Democrat and Republican parties since the 1960 presidential elections.''

It is true that both parties sent their own slate of electors to Congress in 1960.
But they both did that openly.

More to the point, the election returns in Hawaii were so close that a recount was necessary. And the parties chose their electors before that was done.

In Arizona -- and in other states where there were slates submitted on behalf of Trump -- the results already had been certified.

Kern accused the Democrats of "lawfare'' -- a term that means the use of legal system to damage a political opponent -- "to bankrupt me and prevent me from running for office in 2024.'' And he charged that the "rule of law'' is being applied to favor only Democrats.

"The weaponization of our government must stop,'' Kern said.

Parts of his statement were more to make political points even as he hopes to become the Republican nominee to replace Debbie Lesko who is retiring from Congress at the end of this year. He specifically criticized Mayes and Hobbs for refusing to work with the

Republican-controlled Legislature to secure the border against "invasion.'' Instead, Kern said, they have another agenda. "They both want to send me to jail,'' he said.

One thing working on Mayes' behalf is that Kenneth Chesebro, legal adviser to the Trump campaign, agreed to accept a plea deal in the case against Trump and others in Georgia related to the whole fake elector scheme there.

Chesebro is one of the chief architects of getting Republicans in Arizona and other states to prepare slates of fake electors. He pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

More to the point, Chesebro agreed to testify in that case and other cases. And he did meet with investigators in Arizona in December.

One of the states where there has so far not been a prosecution of fake electors is Pennsylvania. But there is a crucial difference.

In that state, the Republican signers said the votes they were casting should only be counted if a court first found they were the "duly elected and qualified electors.'' There was similar language on the New Mexico certificate for Trump.

That was not the case in Arizona or other states where prosecutors already have brought charges.

Kern, already under investigation, used his position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in February to launch his own probe of Mayes. He charged that Mayes, who took office in January 2023, has "reversed the state's position in several significant cases and has refused to defend state law.''

He cited her refusal to support the Save the Women's Sports Act -- which was put into law by the Legislature in 2022 but blocked by a federal judge in Tucson in July 2023 -- as an example of her failure to meet statutory requirements.

The legislation made it illegal for academic girls' sports team to be "open to students of the males sex,'' which raised concerns for parents of transgender children who decided to sue. Mayes, whose office generally defends the legality of state laws, backed away from the case.

Mayes spokesman Richie Taylor said her office never heard anything at all from Kern after that announcement.

Aside from Kern, other fake GOP electors include:
- Kelli Ward who at the time was the chair of the Arizona Republican Party;
- Michael Ward, her husband;
- Tyler Bower, an executive with Turning Point USA which seeks to promote conservative politics in high school and college campuses
- Jake Hoffman, a state senator like Kern;
- Robert Montgomery of the Cochise County Republican Committee;
- Samuel Moorhead of the Gila County Republican Committee;
- Greg Safsten. former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party;
- Jim Lamon, a failed candidate for U.S.Senate;
- Nancy Cottle who was the chair of the Trump electors;
- Loraine Pellegrino; secretary of the Trump electors.

On X and Threads: @azcapmedia