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Wisconsin Republicans Jump to Defend a Fake Electors Ringleader

Wisconsin Republicans were in the thick of the fake electors drama after the 2020 election. Three and a half years later, they’re rushing to defend one of the ringleaders of the effort after he was indicted last week.

Ron Johnson AP-24095481645519
Sen. Ron Johnson speaks at a rally for former President Donald Trump. Mike Roemer/AP

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Wisconsin Republicans found themselves in the thick of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results. Three and a half years later, they’re still in the thick of it.

GOP lawmakers representing the state in Congress are furious that prosecutors are going after two attorneys and an aide involved in the effort to enroll a fake slate of electors for Wisconsin.

While none of the congressional Republicans seemed interested in calling attention to their personal connections to the ringleader of Wisconsin’s fake electors effort — attorney Jim Troupis — they’re also not exactly calling him out. Far from it, in fact.

On Tuesday, a week after the state’s attorney general filed charges against Troupis over his role in the fake elector scheme, the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended Troupis from a state judiciary advisory panel. And Wisconsin’s GOP delegation in Congress sprang into action.

Sen. Ron Johnson told NOTUS Wednesday that the state’s recent actions against Troupis are “completely politically motivated.”

“So lawyers and a conservative lawyer can’t give legal advice to a client anymore? They’re basically charging that that’s illegal. It’s outrageous,” he said. “It’s weaponizing the judicial system.”

Johnson didn’t mention his prior relationship with Troupis, nor did he mention his ties in an X post on the subject last week. Legal settlement documents released in March revealed that Johnson was communicating with Troupis about a plan to allegedly have 10 Wisconsin Republicans sign and submit paperwork claiming to be electors for Trump.

The documentation showed a text from Troupis to Johnson, on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, stating that “we need to get a document on the Wisconsin electors to you for the VP immediately.” Another text that morning — from Troupis to Kenneth Chesebro, the second attorney hit with the recent felony charge — said Troupis had “been on phone w Mike Roman and Senator Johnson and Johnson’s COS to get an original copy of Wi slate to VP.”

The plan wasn’t exactly some new revelation. In an email between Troupis and Chesebro about the alternate elector plot on Dec. 8, 2020, Troupis wrote that he “spoke with Senator Johnson late last night about the [Mike] Pence angle at the end.”

In March, Johnson told NOTUS he didn’t “believe that conversation ever took place,” referring to the Dec. 8 email. He also denied any knowledge about the document containing fake electors, despite the text messages, and couldn’t recall the last time he and Troupis had spoken.

This week, Johnson said the last time he spoke to Troupis was “a long time ago,” unable to recall specifics.

But a couple days prior to the Johnson texts, according to the legal documents, another text from a staffer to Troupis confirmed there was a call set for Jan. 4, 2021, at 12 p.m. with Rep. Tom Tiffany. Emails Troupis sent further confirmed a call with “Tiffany and his staff Monday.”

Tiffany was the sole congressional Wisconsin Republican to ask the Supreme Court to flip election results in Wisconsin and three other states. (After all of Johnson’s actions, he voted to certify the election.)

Right after the documents were released in March, Tiffany told NOTUS he had “a number of contacts” with Troupis, but he said they were unrelated to the fake elector scheme. Tiffany claimed the conversations stemmed from the attorney’s role in Trump’s election lawsuit in Wisconsin. (Trump ultimately lost that lawsuit.)

Tiffany said he wanted to check in, weeks after the case was decided, because he “could see that Jan. 6 was going to be an important date.” And he remained firm in that stance last week.

Tiffany told NOTUS he spoke to Troupis “to get the legal perspective of what the arguments were before the state Supreme Court in that case.” He said the conversation was completely unrelated to the fake electors debacle.

“What his interactions with Senator Johnson were completely separate from my interactions with him,” Tiffany said, adding that he couldn’t recall speaking to Troupis since Jan. 4, 2021, but he would “have to double check.”

Despite the distance he tried to draw between himself and Troupis, Tiffany suggested the charges were the product of a corrupt justice system stacked against Trump.

“It’s no different than what has happened in Fulton County with the district attorney down there, Jack Smith, Mar-a-Lago, the records case,” Tiffany said. “It’s throwing everything at the wall because they cannot have Donald Trump back in office because he’s going to reform the place out in Washington, D.C. And they don’t want reform.”

Other Wisconsin Republicans agreed.

“It’s a shame the judiciary has become so politically savvy,” Rep. Glenn Grothman told NOTUS on Wednesday when asked about the felony charges against Troupis and the attorney being removed from the judiciary panel. “We’ve got to somehow change the culture.”

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Rep. Scott Fitzgerald also has his own history with Troupis. Fitzgerald hired the attorney almost a decade before 2020, during a legal battle over redistricting. Fitzgerald was the majority leader of the Wisconsin state Senate at the time and was waging a battle over the maps.

Fitzgerald told NOTUS last week that Troupis was a “competent attorney.” But, he said, “I haven’t spoken to Jim Troupis in years and years.”

While he said he hadn’t read much about the charges against his old attorney, Fitzgerald suggested it was surprising he’d be indicted now.

“It seems like this has been hanging out there now for a while. So I’m surprised about the timing,” he said.

Nuha Dolby is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.