Above: Hank Choate, who has been accused of election fraud, makes a point while his attorney, David Kallman, listens.
By Matt Schepeler
On July 18 Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced felony charges against 16 Michigan Republicans for their role in what she calls an alleged false electors scheme following the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The defendants are alleged to have met covertly in the basement of the Michigan Republican Party headquarters on December 14 and signed their names to multiple certificates stating they were the “duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America for the State of Michigan.”
Nessel’s office says the false documents were then transmitted to the United States Senate and National Archives in a coordinated effort to award the state’s electoral votes to the candidate of their choosing in place of the candidates actually elected by the people of Michigan.
Nessel says about the charges, “The false electors’ actions undermined the public’s faith in the integrity of our elections and, we believe, also plainly violated the laws by which we administer our elections in Michigan…The evidence will demonstrate there was no legal authority for the false electors to purport to act as ‘duly elected presidential electors’ and execute the false electoral documents.”
Recently one of the 16, Hank Choate of Cement City, and his attorney met with a group of friends and supporters at Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farms in Somerset to discuss the case and raise funds to help defend Choate against the state.
When asked if Choate and the other 15 Republicans did anything illegal, Choate’s attorney, David Kallman of Kallman Legal Group, a conservative law firm out of Lansing, said “Absolutely not.”
“Hank didn’t lie about anything,” said Kallman. “It is that simple. They are weaponizing their office to go after political opponents. That is all this is.”
Kallman noted that “both parties nominate electors. Those electors sign documents that get sent to Washington, and those electors have voted then for their candidate.
“So what happens is, every once in a while you get a contested race. It happens every now and then, where it is contested, where no one really knows who won for sure. In that situation, slates of electors are put in place for both parties, depending on the outcome of the challenge, and that is all that happened here.”
The attorney said that in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected “The Democrats did the exact same thing.”
“They had people calling the Republican electors trying to get them not to vote for President Trump. Talk about interference in the political process. But everybody looked at it like ‘that’s just politics.’ Nobody thought ‘Oh, that is criminal and we have to go after those Democrats who are trying to get electors to violate their oath of office.’
“Who would think about doing that?”
Above: A group of supporters gathered at Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm recently to learn more about the charges against Choate and help raise funds for his defense. Some estimate that it could cost Choate more than $100,000 in attorney fees.
Kallman said that the charge that the group knowingly signed a false document “is easily proven false.” He said all the group read was the signature page, and were told that the document contained an alternate slate and that “this was a routine thing.”
“They just submitted their slate. If President Trump’s challenges had been upheld and the vote switched because of their lawsuits, then the Republican slate of electors would have been the ones that would have been used.
“To argue that they intentionally tried to injure or defraud somebody is ridiculous,” continued Kallman. “That isn’t what happened, but nobody knew that the day they signed that page.”
But while “That is all this is” may prove true, it is going to cost Choate and the other 15 electors plenty to defend. “This could take a long time,” said Kallman. There are 16 co-defendants. Imagine having a court hearing with 16 defense attorneys. This could go on till the next election. Maybe that is what they want. There is so much information in discovery. They spend months doing this. There are over 100 police reports to pour through, and we have got to review them all,” said the lawyer. (More below)
Some estimates have reached in the six figure range each for attorney fees, depending on how far the attorney general pushes it.
If convicted, Choate could face up to a total of 85 years in prison.
“I have taken this seriously,” said Choate. The party did not help any of the 16 with legal counsel, nor have Republican officials at the state level publicly acknowledged it. Each individual is on their own, but Choate said he felt some relief when Kallman agreed to defend him, who he says shares his conservative values.
While addressing the crowd, a visibly emotional Choate said that the support he has received has been overwhelming.
Choate said that he got into politics in 2008 when he saw that he didn’t like the direction the country was heading. “Five days before the election, the candidate made a statement that sent chills up and down my spine: ‘We are five days from fundamentally changing America.’
“Why do you want to change America fundamentally? Our founding fathers built a country of opportunity, a country of freedom, of freedom of speech, of freedom of expression, of freedom to assemble.
“I got involved because I was frustrated that my grandchildren were not going to have the same opportunities that I had, that many of us had. That is what drove me to get involved.”
Choate served eight years on the Columbia school District Board of Education before moving on to getting more involved in the Republican Party.
Officials who organized last week’s event said they raised around $7,500.
“It is a travesty that our legal system is being turned on its head to go after upstanding citizens like Hank,” said Kallman.
“People can have all the political differences in the world. That’s our system. That’s the way it goes. But we don’t prosecute each other just because someone happens to be in power and they want to abuse that power.
“That is what is going on here.
“It is an abuse of power.”