Aug. 18, 2023 | This Week in Government: NCSL on Cash Incentives, Tax DealsAugust 18, 2023
Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, provides members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.
NCSL: Cash Incentives, Tax Deals Not the Future for Biz Attraction
INDIANAPOLIS – Economic incentives for businesses are here to stay, but economists say they’re seeing a shift in the priorities of those incentives due to the evolving nature of work.
States are moving away from cash-based deals to attract businesses focused on bringing in remote workers with enhanced benefits and community assets, officials said at a Tuesday session of the National Conference of State Legislatures meeting. The comments from the panel come as Michigan and other states have gone all-in on huge, nine- and 10-figure cash incentives to woo new economic activity to their states.
Democratic legislators in Michigan rebuffed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer‘s request for more hundreds of millions to be allocated for such incentives in the 2023-24 fiscal year budget.
Economists Ellen Harpel, founder of Smart Incentives; Michael Hicks, professor of economics and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University; and Bob Isaacson, senior vice president at the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, discussed the effectiveness of the latest in economic incentives during a Tuesday panel at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“It looks like we’re still offering very big incentive packages to a lot of big businesses. That’s not untrue, but it’s not the whole story,” Harpel said. “If you look a little bit deeper, you’ll see some important themes emerge.”
Those themes are a focus on quality jobs, local priorities, and performance-based grants.
“Investments in community, or with individuals in the community, have a lot of value right now,” Harpel said.
State and local governments, as well as economic development organizations, have come to realize how important investing in small businesses is to the economic health and vitality of communities.
“They provide important amenities for our community that make them the places that we know and love,” Harpel said. “Those amenities help attract people to the community.”
This shift to prioritizing communities can be seen in economic development that emphasizes brownfield redevelopment, investment in urban or rural communities, workforce development, or main street development.
Harpel said incentives should always be connected to a state’s overall economic development objectives.
“Incentive use needs to be thought of as a process, not a point-in-time activity,” Harpel said.
Further, it’s critical for states to prioritize due diligence, cost benefits, compliance with performance agreements, making sure there are resources to monitor compliance and program evaluation, Harpel said.
“You won’t know if your incentives work unless you do the evaluations,” Harpel said. “You have to collect the data.”
Although incentives will continue to be a critical part of economic development, they’re not the end-all-be-all for business decisions, Isaacson said.
“If a business is only locating because of incentives, they’re probably going to fail,” he said.
That means incentives need to be part of the state’s larger economic development strategy and take regulations, taxes, universities, and workforce development into consideration.
Now, states are shifting their incentive approach. Instead of focusing on tax credits, states are offering more grants.
“That’s sometimes because of the ROI,” Isaacson said. “They need some of the cash flow from the portfolio perspective to guarantee the return on investment. Tax credits are nice, but they’re never guaranteed.”
Incentives tend to vary by industry and may highlight different regional priorities, such as sustainability or diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“They want to get some of their local culture and embed it into the project,” Isaacson said.
Although transparency greatly varies from state to state, Isaacson encouraged more openness about how dollars are being spent.
“Economic development is really to help residents, so to create greater transparency generally is going to be better to support economic development activities,” Isaacson said. “Allowing some people behind the curtain – to really understand what’s happened to a project – can be very positive.”
Different metrics need to be used to evaluate the success of an incentive program, Isaacson said, and place-based incentives that improve the quality of life for residents and current businesses are effective economic development strategies.
“It isn’t an either-or,” Isaacson said. “Incentives are here to stay for businesses, but we also have place-based strategies.”
When developing incentives, it’s critical for states to ask if those incentives are developing the right things, what tax policy is being reinforced, and how the incentives could have unintended consequences, Hicks said.
Currently, economic developers are chasing a static pool of jobs that is largely customer based, such as teachers, public safety officers, and restaurant owners.
“Economic developers are chasing the wrong labor markets,” Hicks said. “There’s a cost to this.”
Other businesses pay that cost in a state, which ends up paying more to subsidize tax cuts and other incentives.
Hicks said it was also important to ask what incentives are reinforcing.
“Are you targeting the right things?” he asked. “Tax cuts and subsidies are not going to job creation. They are going to automation that reduces the role of labor.”
In the last 15 years, there has been a 12% decline in the share of gross domestic product in manufacturing that goes to workers, Hicks said.
“It’s just a stunning decline,” he said. “If you think you’re creating jobs by doing that, that’s not what you’ll get an economist to say.”
With that in mind, it’s important for states to realize that tax incentives aren’t driving business relocation decisions. Rather, it’s the labor force, availability of resources and infrastructure, and the cost of production.
Hicks also noted that there are 22 million families in the labor force that are untethered from the labor market because they can work remotely. As a result, traditional incentives won’t attract those workers or companies to an area.
“State and local tax rates are not directly disincentivizing population growth,” Hicks said. “Instead, families are moving to high quality of life counties, with higher taxes.”
That means states should not be diluting their ability to provide public services in favor of shelling out tax incentives, Hicks said.
When it comes to research and development incentives, states should be careful not to pitch them as jobs programs, Hicks said.
“That’s not what it is,” he said. “But if you’re providing support for workers who lose their jobs through automation, if you’re providing retraining opportunities, the transition should be pretty good.”
Incentive programs should be designed to minimize harm to existing workers, Harpel said.
“It’s looking at it all as a system,” Harpel said.” We know that incentives have an effect, but they don’t have the only effect … You can always choose not to offer incentives. It’s not mandatory, but states generally find that, then, for the jobs that are moving around, they aren’t competitive. They’re not in the mix anymore. And so they choose to offer these incentive programs.
States are rightfully moving away from job tallies as a metric for economic development. Other factors, such as housing, public services, public health, and crime rates, also have a place in the discussion.
“Expanding away from job tallies is very important … where I think we need to go is more of … finding ways to demonstrate the benefit for the community of this economic activity beyond the job tally,” Harpel said.
People-centered incentives are what’s important, Hicks said, and social issues are driving household relocation.
“It’s really thinking holistically about what you’re already doing,” Hicks said. “The overall atmospherics are going to drive where young people live and work, and I think that’s going to start being felt over the next two or three years and what will almost certainly be a two- or three-decade long adjustment process.”
Thomas Horton, policy advisor and analyst for the Michigan House of Representatives, who watched the panel, said in an interview afterward that he felt Michigan is already in a place where policymakers understand there’s a return on investment for research and development incentives.
“We know that there is a really good chance at stimulating productivity and improving a lot of different metrics of the economy that you can talk about,” he said. “What I want to learn more about is, like, that’s fantastic, maybe we can automate more, maybe we can create more with less, things like that, but what does that mean? Even though we’re making a lot of good steps toward understanding how we can make certain aspects of the economy and jobs better, I feel like we aren’t focusing enough on that aspect.”
One of the big questions for Michigan right now is whether the tradeoff between the jobs that the state will lose with electric vehicles and semiconductor production will be adequately counteracted with training and new opportunities, Horton said.
“We don’t know if the trade off between the jobs we’re losing and the jobs we’re creating are going to be a loss or if it’s going to be beneficial in the long run,” he said. “We have reason to believe that automation isn’t always a great thing, depending on who you’re asking. It might be great for the master’s and bachelor’s owning engineers of the world, but not so much for the hundreds of people working in the factories. Michigan is a very industrialized economy, and it makes a lot of sense to ask this question.”
Horton said that overall, he was cautiously optimistic about Michigan’s approach to incentives.
“Just making sure that we’re having conversations like that, not just going for that carrot,” he said. “But we’re also thinking of the externalities. We’re thinking of the effects of our decisions. And it’s not just another cool, shiny thing.”
Money Available for Infrastructure Development, But States Need Workers
The federal government will divert $1.2 trillion to states over the next 10 years for infrastructure, which could mean 345,000 more jobs across the country.
A panel of legislators and infrastructure and transportation experts discussed the importance of building out a workforce to make infrastructure projects shovel-ready and capitalizing on federal dollars to make those goals possible.
Infrastructure jobs present an incredible opportunity for people to secure a middle-class lifestyle, said Paige Shevlin, strategic advisor for infrastructure workforce development with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Most of the jobs in the sector don’t require a degree, and two-thirds of the people making more than $60,000 in infrastructure don’t have a bachelor’s degree, Shevlin said.
“It’s a really important opportunity for people to get good paying jobs to support themselves and their family,” she said. “There’s a way in which it really changes the entire trajectory of their lives.”
There is $124.5 billion available in competitive federal funding, and states should be addressing how they plan to create good-paying jobs and invest in workforce development in their applications, Shevlin said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is asking applicants to address how they are creating good-paying jobs with a free and fair choice to join a union, how they are expanding high-quality training and education programs, and how they are recruiting underrepresented workers, such as women and people of color.
When applying for federal dollars, states can make a preference on local economic hiring and use the money for workforce development.
“This is a major flexibility that people aren’t aware of,” Shevlin said.
There’s also $466 billion in formula funding that will be distributed to states, and 70% of those funds can be spent on workforce development, which is a change under the federal bipartisan infrastructure law.
With that in mind, it’s important for state leaders to develop an understanding of the gaps in their regional training systems for workforce development, Shevlin said. Lawmakers should identify specific programs to meet workforce needs for project owners that can be scaled up with limited funding. State transportation departments also should let workforce partners know about upcoming projects that will require training, Shevlin said.
Washington has a pre-apprenticeship supportive services program, as does Wisconsin. Michigan also has a pre-apprenticeship program, and the Michigan Department of Transportation created a curriculum it shares with high schools across the state to interest students in infrastructure trades jobs. Indiana has a career scholarship account for 5,000 high schoolers for trade education as well as workforce-ready grants.
But the focus shouldn’t be on funding training providers, Shevlin said. Instead, people need support to get through the workforce training.
“More people need to be able to get through those apprenticeship programs, and that’s not about funding new training providers, it’s about funding supportive services,” Shevlin said. “It’s about helping people to be able to go through some of the prerequisites that are needed to get into an apprenticeship program. …The workforce system is really skilled at supporting services, career counseling. They just need more resources to do it.”
Kevin Pollari, principal at Deloitte, said people, protection, and planning are the three most important factors when considering how to spend infrastructure dollars.
“These are three obstacles to money and that money getting well spent,” Pollari said. “$1.2 trillion is not as much money as it sounds like.”
The current infrastructure workforce is getting older, and investments need to be made to attract new talent and provide training for new technology, Pollari said.
Infrastructure work can be “dirty, dull and dangerous,” he said, so it’s good to look for ways to make it safer, whether that’s by automating processes or providing better equipment. Digital vulnerabilities, such as ransomware attacks, should also be considered, Pollari said.
Planning also is critical to infrastructure spending and the workforce.
“Poor planning causes 90%-95% of infrastructure projects to be late or over budget,” Pollari said.
He emphasized the importance of a “dig once” mentality.
“Having a plan at the state level and then rippling down to the city and county level to effectively spend this money is absolutely vital,” Pollari said. “Otherwise, the money is going to be gone, and you haven’t accomplished as much as you need.”
To do that, it’s critical for state-level agencies to coordinate with other agencies.
“The smarter you are about where the money comes from and how it gets spent will be important,” Pollari said. “You want to spend it well to avoid the problems of the past.
Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Oregon, said that having the money wasn’t enough. States need to invest in the workforce that is needed to take advantage of the funding.
“Use the opportunity to build our workforce, but also to make sure that we don’t reinvent the wheel of bad decisions,” he said.
Dembrow said states need to think about things like investing in child care that operates outside of the hours of 9-5 because infrastructure jobs don’t often operate on that schedule.
“The market is not addressing many of these barriers that are preventing people from getting to that place of security,” Shevlin said.
Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Indiana, said it was important to encourage young people to consider jobs in skilled trades and infrastructure, but the challenge is the workforce is needed now.
“I can tell you these are great jobs,” he said. “Promoting this when they’re still in that K-12 is awesome, and that’s where we’ve got to start. But the bad news is we need that workforce now. So that gets you to the CSA program, that skill-up program, and encouraging folks to just take a look at these jobs.”
AI Experts Urge Transparency and ‘Sector-Specific’ Regulations
INDIANAPOLIS – Two artificial intelligence experts cautioned that state legislatures need to value transparency when considering the technology and focus on “sector-specific” regulations as it becomes more ubiquitous during a panel discussion at the 2023 National Conference of State Legislatures.
Nicole Foster, director of AWS Global AI/ML and Canada public policy at Amazon, said, “there is a need to address some of the concerns that citizens have, or our customers have, around how this new technology works and ensuring there is trust in the technology.” Foster labeled the discussion as “an important conversation.”
As conversations pertaining to artificial intelligence (AI) continue globally, Foster and Chloe Autio, director of technology, public policy, and applied AI governance at Cantellus Group, an advisory firm, granted that international norms will likely be developed in coming years but acknowledged complimentary legislation at the state level will also be needed.
In a December AWS blog post, Foster wrote, “While the benefits of AI are already plain to see and improving our lives each day, unlocking AI’s full potential will require building greater confidence among consumers,” a message she reiterated during the panel. “That means earning public trust that AI will be used responsibly and in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law, human rights, and the values of equity, privacy, and fairness,” she wrote.
Highlighting best practices for establishing public trust in AI, Foster said public disclosure is paramount. Letting the public know they are interacting with an artificial intelligence is important, she argued and allows other decisions to be made, such as appealing a system’s conclusion and determining if human interaction is necessary. Another aspect of establishing trust involves evaluating systems to see if they performed as desired, Foster said.
“Trust comes down to having responsibility and accountability for the thing that we’re talking about, which is deployment, development and the use of these systems,” Autio said. “This space is moving so fast, and it is creating a lot of these questions around what is real and what is not.”
In the political space, AI has been used to create manipulated audio and visuals in campaign ads — such as when a PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign used manipulated audio of former President Donald Trump to create a message attacking Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. The DeSantis campaign has come under scrutiny for other AI-generated content.
But blanket regulations are not advised, the panel, which also included moderator James Maroney, the Senate deputy majority leader of the Connecticut General Assembly, said. Instead, the trio advocated for “sector-specific” regulations.
Using the example of autonomous vehicles, Foster said a more bespoke approach would be necessary, cautioning that there would likely be a transition between the burgeoning technology and a plausible future date when a majority of, or all, vehicles on the road are autonomous. “It’s, to me, a primary example of where you would want to have your own, sort of, process of thinking through what the liabilities are in that space,” Foster said.
“A lot of these proposals to, sort of, broadly regulate technology may not be adaptable or flexible [enough] to withstand the test of time,” Autio said. “We do need some kind of regulation and federal guidance for these issues that we already know how to regulate just to apply them to new spaces: liability, consumer protection, safety, privacy, discrimination, civil rights. All of these issues are implicated by AI. And security. Importantly, security. … Thinking about how different sectors can work together and across one another in the government to collaborate in thinking about these issues in a sector-specific and industry-specific way would be very helpful.”
At the federal level, the White House has published the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, a set of five principles and associated practices “to help guide the design, use, and deployment of automated systems to protect the rights of the American public.” Meanwhile, federal legislators are toiling with policy proposals, and agencies such as the Federal Election Commission are investigating regulatory steps on their end.
States have also joined in passing regulations. According to NCSL, at least 25 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, introduced artificial intelligence bills during the 2023 legislative session, with 14 states and Puerto Rico adopting or enacting legislation on the matter. For example, Texas created an AI advisory council, and North Dakota enacted legislation defining a person, notably deciding that artificial intelligence does not constitute a person.
Cherry: Several Labor Policy Items Expected to Move in Fall
The chair of the Senate Labor Committee called the opening months of the new term productive while adding that he looks forward to digging more deeply into policy work this fall, given that the first budget passed by the Democratic Legislature is now in the rear-view mirror.
Sen. John Cherry (D-Flint) said recently, the committee took testimony and moved several priority pieces of legislation during the first six months of the year, and the fall will be the time to delve into items that are still pending.
“We had a lot of big priorities,” Cherry said, pointing to the repeal of the state’s right to work law and restoration of the prevailing wage that Democrats passed over Republican objections in the early months of this year (See Gongwer Michigan Report, March 24, 2023).
The right to work repeal and prevailing wage bills were key labor policy items Democrats had long called for and campaigned on. Those were among several items the narrow Democratic majorities muscled through both chambers to the governor’s desk in a flurry of activity shortly after the beginning of the year.
Several other items were reported by the committee in the opening months of the year, including legislation dealing with teacher collective bargaining (See Gongwer Michigan Report, June 28, 2023).
“There’s a lot of bills we had testimony on prior to the summer break that I expect we’ll have votes taken on come fall,” Cherry said.
Among Cherry’s priorities are a pair of bills, SB 170 and SB 171, taken up for testimony only in June, to repeal PA 98 of 2011, which enacted restrictions on project labor agreements (a type of collective bargaining agreement), and repeal the Local Government Labor Regulatory Limitation Act, or PA 105 of 2015. The existing law bans local governments from setting requirements for minimum wage higher than that of the state minimum wage or other fringe benefits. Similar legislation is also before the House Labor Committee. Cherry said a key priority for him once members return in the fall will be on a slate of bills that would enable law enforcement officers, including corrections officers whose retirements are within the defined contribution plans, to enroll in the State Police Retirement System pension plan that was established in 2012 (See Gongwer Michigan Report, May 4, 2023).
The senator said other policy items he expects to see introduced in the fall include changes to the state’s worker’s compensation system as well as changes to the unemployment insurance system.
Cherry said he has been in conversations with the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity as well as the Unemployment Insurance Agency and is being kept apprised of items being discussed among a modernization task force looking into the UI system.
Many of the bills before the committee have been reported along party lines. Cherry said he is hopeful that some labor legislation might be able to get some bipartisan support before the full chamber.
With the partisan divide on many business-labor issues, especially in recent years, votes largely along party lines may be inevitable, he said.
“It is what it is,” Cherry said of party-line votes on labor policy.
Cherry also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee
and chairs two appropriations subcommittees. This made it more difficult to meet when budget negotiations were being finalized, he said, adding the other two Democrats on his committee also chair appropriations subcommittees. With the budget having been passed in late June, the fall months will afford members the opportunity to take a deeper dive into policy items, he said.
Trump Efforts to Subvert MI Election Results Referenced in GA Case
Attempts to alter Michigan’s 2020 presidential election results figured significantly in the Georgia indictment against former President Donald Trump and his allies, including their repeated disproven allegations that thousands of dead people voted and election machines were tampered with in Michigan.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney and former New York City mayor, is also facing 13 criminal counts and is indicted in part for allegedly lying to the Georgia General Assembly about what happened in Michigan’s Antrim County.
The indictment filed late Monday in Georgia’s Fulton County Superior Court lists 41 counts against the 18 co-conspirators, with Trump himself being charged on 13 counts, including violations of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit false statements and writings and conspiracy to commit filing of false documents.
“Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump,” the criminal complaint states. “That conspiracy contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the state of Georgia, and in other states.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis launched the investigation into Trump’s post-2020 election campaign activities in February 2021 after audio of a leaked phone call revealed Trump telling Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find enough votes needed to flip now-President Joe Biden’s narrow Georgia victory in Trump’s favor.
The indictment charging Trump in Georgia is the fourth against the former president in recent months. He has until noon on Aug. 25 to voluntarily surrender to law enforcement.
At the core of the indictment are criminal charges against the former president’s push to reverse Georgia’s slim margin of victory for Biden in 20202, but similar actions in other states – including Michigan – are mentioned several times throughout the nearly 100-page indictment.
TRUMP’S MICHIGAN CONNECTION: Among his 13 criminal counts, Trump is being charged with false statements made about election results in Michigan to both the Great Lakes state and Georgia state officials on separate occasions.
He is facing a felony offense for false statements and writings on or about Jan. 2, 2021, to Raffensperger, Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs, and Georgia Secretary of General Counsel Ryan Germany.
One of those false statements alleged that thousands of dead people voted in Michigan voted in the election.
The indictment also notes a meeting on Nov. 20, 2020, with former Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, and other unnamed Michigan legislators in the Oval Office. Giuliani was said to have joined the meeting over the phone. During this meeting, the Georgia district attorney alleged that Trump “made false statements concerning fraud in the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election in Michigan.”
Gongwer News Service reported then that aside from Shirkey and Chatfield, then-Rep. and later former Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell), former Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), and Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway) were in attendance at the meeting with Trump (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Nov. 20, 2020).
Those charged in the alleged criminal enterprise were also accused of making false statements to state legislators during hearings and separate meetings in Michigan, as well as Arizona and Pennsylvania, in November and December 2020 to “persuade legislators in those states to unlawfully appoint their own presidential electors.”
The documents also said members of the alleged enterprise made false statements to and solicited state officials like Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and her counterparts in Arizona and Pennsylvania. They also created false Electoral College documents and recruited individuals to convene and cast false electoral votes in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
GIULIANI ALSO HIT WITH CHARGES: In addition to Trump, Giuliani, once labeled “America’s mayor,” is also facing 13 criminal counts. Of note, Guiliani was, during his time as mayor, a proponent of using RICO to fight corruption and organized crime in New York City.
Giuliani, along with attorney Jenna Ellis testified before the Michigan House Oversight Committee on Dec. 2, 2020. The Georgia district attorney later said Giuliani and Ellis made false statements during that hearing concerning fraud and solicited state legislators to unlawfully appoint presidential electors from Michigan.
Giuliani is similarly charged for making false statements and writings during Georgia’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Dec. 3, 2020. During this meeting, Giuliani told the Georgia Senate that Dominion Voting Systems equipment used in Antrim County, Michigan, mistakenly recorded 6,000 votes for Biden when the votes actually cast were intended for Trump.
The indictment on this point appeared somewhat confusing. It is true that the Antrim voting machines did, in fact, mistakenly record a large number of votes meant for Trump in Biden’s column instead as a result of an error when Antrim officials incorrectly performed a software update. What is false is the notion advanced by Giuliani and others that the situation was the result of a deliberate plot to manipulate the Dominion software and that the plot was widespread. The indictment
A week after Giuliani’s testimony to Georgia’s state Senate, Giuliani testified before the Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee on Dec. 10, 2020. Georgia officials are charging Giuliani for several false statements and writings submitted to the analogous House committee, including an allegation that in Michigan, there were 700,000 more ballots counted than were sent out to voters for the presidential election.
No evidence has ever been produced to support such an allegation.
DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: The co-conspirators’ attempts to expose manipulated or tampered voting machines were also referenced throughout the filing.
Georgia officials said attorney Sidney Powell allegedly entered into a written engagement agreement with SullivanStrickler LLC on Dec. 8, 2020. The agreement required the forensic data firm to complete forensic collections and analytics on Dominion Voting machines in Michigan and other states.
Two days after that, on Dec. 12, 2020, Trump staffer Michael Roman sent an email to unindicted co-conspirators instructing them to create entries on a shared spreadsheet listing the presidential elector nominees in Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The spreadsheet, the indictment said, included contact information for the elector nominees, whether they had been contacted, and whether they had confirmed they would attend planned Dec. 14, 2020, meetings in their respective states.
Roman also instructed an individual related to the Trump campaign to distribute certain information related to those Dec. 14, 2020, meetings to an unindicted co-conspirator.
On Dec. 21, 2020, Powell sent an email to the chief operations officer at Sullivan Strickler LLC and instructed him that she and three other unindicted co-conspirators were to immediately receive a copy of all the data obtained by the forensic data company from the Dominion machines in Michigan.
Georgia’s district attorney has alleged that Powell, during her testimony to the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, held on May 7, 2022, also made false statements, including that she “didn’t have any role in really setting up” a mechanism to obtain voting machines or their data in Michigan’s Antrim County and Georgia’s Coffee County.
Matthew DePerno, the Republican nominee for attorney general in 2022, is also facing charges brought by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for working in concert with former Rep. Daire Rendon (R-Lake City) and a Trump-backing attorney to investigate tabulators used in the 2020 election. He was involved with the litigation scrutinizing an election night error in Antrim County, one of the sources of Trump’s conspiracies, and is alleged to have been present for the manipulation and tampering of several municipalities’ machines beginning in January or February 2021.
Charges were brought against DePerno, Rendon, and attorney Stefanie Lambert Junttila this month for conspiracy to unlawfully possess and access voting machines, along with other offenses (See Gongwer Michigan Report, Aug. 1, 2023).
MICHIGAN’S FALSE ELECTORS: The indictment also shows that an attorney with Trump’s legal team is facing criminal charges for his efforts to help advance the fake electors scheme to secure Trump a victory in states won by Biden.
Attorney Kenneth Chesebro is being charged with writing a memorandum for James Troupis, an attorney associated with the Trump campaign, that provided state-specific instructions for how Trump presidential elector nominees in Michigan and other states would meet and cast for votes for the former president on Dec. 14, 2020.
On July 18 of this year, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced felony charges against 16 individuals in Michigan for attempting to fraudulently certify the election in favor of Trump (See Gongwer Michigan Report, July 18, 2023).
The false electors – including Meshawn Maddock, the Michigan Republican Party’s former co-chair, and Kathy Berden, the current Republican National Committeewoman – are being charged by Nessel’s office in Lansing’s 54-A District Court for allegedly signing their names on multiple certificates to assert that they were the “duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United State of America for the State of Michigan.”
Nessel’s office has since said those false documents were then transmitted to the U.S. Senate and the National Archives in what Nessel’s office called a coordinated effort to award the state’s electoral votes to the presidential and vice presidential candidates of their choosing, in place of the candidates elected by Michigan residents.
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