How a Bucks County GOP Leader Was There at the Birth of the Big Lie

You didn’t have to be Amy Schneider on “Jeopardy” to push the buzzer after hearing: “Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Mex…”

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

The right answer? Either swing states in the 2020 election. Or, states that sent “alternate certificates” signed by fake electors saying Donald Trump won the election.

The list included Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada.

So much attention has been paid to Bucks County’s six defendants charged in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. But the groundwork for that day was laid three weeks earlier: an attempt to bollix up the electoral college so that Donald Trump would become president. The plan was set in motion on December 14, when loyal GOP functionaries in seven states met in secret like members of Skull and Bones to sign fake electoral ballots.

The ballots fell into two camps. Five of them were identical documents, seemingly spit out by the same legal office. Pennsylvania and Nevada followed their own formats, but the Trump schemers considered all seven part of their plan. These were Trump electors, to be presented on January 6. And from that day onward, the myth of the stolen election took root.

Pat Poprik in 2016

Pat Poprik, chair of the Bucks County Republican Committee, was one of the 20 signatories on Pennsylvania’s fake papers. It’s hard to know much about Poprik these days, because she seems to have whitewashed her Facebook page. But back on Sept 24, 2020, she wrote a message criticizing Breonna Taylor, saying “Sorry for anyone who loses their life but when you learn the truth, it certainly changes the perspective.” And then she retweeted: ““If people want to BLM (burn, loot & murder) over the grand jury’s decision, apply the law to THEM. Breonna was involved with, and profiting from drug trafficking.” Poprik now posts about her own good deeds.

The 20 signed Trump electors for Pennsylvania

Thanks to reporting in Lancaster Online we now know why the Pennsylvania electors’ document was different. Sam DeMarco of Allegheny County, who would have been a real Trump elector if Trump had won, and thus knew his way around the legalities, told Trump’s pushy Philadelphia lawyer, James Fitzpatrick, that he would not sign the document unless there was a big “if” in it. He said he did not want to “go around the election.” Thus their document said their slate was for Trump “only if his election challenges succeeded in the courts.” In other words, it was a contingent slate. Many of the Pennsylvania signers were powerful operators in the GOP including two now running for governor.

In fact, they put out a press release explaining what they were doing.

Contrast that with the falsified electoral slates as filed by the other states.

The Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and New Mexico documents blatantly stated that they were “duly elected.” They were not. These “electors” met the day real electors met, December 14, and then (obviously in collusion with Trump officials) sent their fake ballots to the Senate and other government offices.

Here was the plan, dreamed up by Trump adviser John Eastman, according to Bob Woodward’s book “Peril”: the Vice President would declare on January 6 that there were “seven slates of alternate electors.” Consider that the Trump team was counting Pennsylvania’s 20 votes, no matter what their intentions were. Therefore Pence would not accept the electors for Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Without those electors, the votes for Biden would be only 222. The plan, if Pence had agreed to it, was that no candidate had reached 270. (After that there were even more preposterous plans to throw the decision to the House of Representatives, where each state would get one vote, thus the Republicans would win and keep their president.)

So, how do we know all this stuff about the fake electors?

The watchdog group American Oversight did what good journalists should do. In February 2021, a month after the riot at the White House, it filed a Freedom of Information Act request at the National Archive to ask what other electoral slates were filed in 2020. And the Archive produced 45 pages.

Huzzah!

The august Congressional committee asked the same question earlier this month. Politico “broke” the story a few weeks ago, and Rachel Maddow’s hair caught fire, and Ari Melber, himself a lawyer, started grilling guests like Boris Epshtyn, one of the Trump schemers, along with Rudy Giuliani, on Jan. 6.

So now the questions begin. The attorney general of Michigan, Dana Nessel, has asked federal prosecutors to look at her fake electors, saying it is better handled at a national level.

Dana Nessel, AG of Michigan

It is a fourth-degree felony by state law to cast a ballot for anyone other than the presidental candidate who received the majority of the votes in New Mexico. The state’s up-and-coming attorney general Hector Banderas, whose fake electoral slate was a duplicate of the other four, wants New Mexico’s case to go to the feds as well. “Election laws are the foundation of our democracy and must be respected,” he announced in a written statement on January 21.

Hector Banderas AG of New Mexico

Wisconsin’s attorney general, Josh Kaul, has added his two cents about his own duplicate fake electoral voting form. Federal prosecutors should investigate any actions that further “seditious conspiracy.”  

Merrick Garland’s Justice Department has received the requests from Michigan and New Mexico. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, gave this carefully crafted statement to Politico: “We’ve received those referrals. Our prosecutors are looking at those and I can’t say anything more on ongoing investigations.” 

You wonder about Pennsylvania? Those waffle words insisted on by the man from Allegheny County saved them all from being in hot oil with the feds: Attorney General Josh Shapiro put out this memo, according to Lancaster Online “These ‘fake ballots’ included a conditional clause that they were only to be used if a court overturned the results in Pennsylvania, which did not happen. Though their rhetoric and policy were intentionally misleading and purposefully damaging to our democracy, based on our initial review, our office does not believe this meets the legal standards for forgery.”

In other words, whew. “Purposefully damaging to our democracy” is not something you want in your obituary. But it’s better than an indictment.

UPDATE: On Friday, January 28, the January 6 committee announced it was sending subpoenas to heads of all seven states that submitted fake elector slates, including Pennsylvania. They are not seeking punishment for those who signed, but instead want to know how their coordinated participation came about. Presumably Bill Bachenberg, the chair of Pennsylvania’s slate of fake electors, will be asked to repond.

Linda Lee

Linda Lee

A former editor and reporter at The New York Times, Linda Lee has written seven books, and started a magazine about real estate and design in Miami. While her interest lies in Bucks County, her family lives near Harrisburg. She has a Shih Tzu named Yolo.

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