The House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection subpoenaed two New Mexicans and a dozen others Friday who it says falsely tried to declare Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 election in seven swing states.
Named in the subpoenas were Jewll Powdrell, a member of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of New Mexico, and Deborah Maestas, a former chair of the state GOP.
They were among 14 people who the panel says allegedly met and submitted false Electoral College certificates declaring Trump the winner of New Mexico, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to a letter from Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the January 6 Select Committee.
“We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme,” Thompson said in the letter. “We encourage them to cooperate with the Select Committee’s investigation to get answers about January 6 for the American people and help ensure nothing like that day ever happens again.”
In a recent recorded interview with the Journal, Powdrell said the decision to give the state’s electoral votes to Trump was at the direction of the state Republican Party chairman, former Congressman Steve Pearce.
He further said in that interview that he’d been advised by attorneys “not to give any overt comments about what the intent was.”
At the time the certificate was filed, the New Mexico Republican Party issued a statement saying it supported the casting of competing certificates until litigation over the election was resolved in the courts.
Asked if he had any regrets about signing the document, Powdrell said, “none whatsoever.”
Powdrell, Maestas and Pearce could not be reached for comment Friday; however, Mike Curtis, communications director for the state Republican Party, said “we do not comment on pending investigations.”
Three other people from New Mexico who signed the document, but were not subpoenaed, were Lupe Garcia, an Albuquerque business owner; Rosie Tripp, a former Socorro County commissioner; and Anissa Ford-Tinnin, a former executive director of the state Republican Party.
Last March, American Oversight, a watchdog group, obtained the certificates in question that were submitted by Republicans in the seven states. In two of them, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, the fake electors added a caveat saying the certificate was submitted in case they were later recognized as duly elected, qualified electors. That would have been possible only if Trump had won any of the several dozens of legal battles he waged against those states in the weeks after the election.
New Mexico’s electoral votes went to Joe Biden, who carried the state by 11 percentage points – nearly 100,000 votes. State law makes it a fourth-degree felony for designated electors to cast ballots for anyone other than the presidential candidate who won the state’s popular vote.
The nine-member Select Committee said it has obtained information that groups of individuals met on Dec. 14, 2020 – more than a month after Election Day – in the seven states. The individuals, according to the congressional investigation, then submitted fake slates of Electoral College votes for Trump. Then “alternate electors” from those seven states sent those certificates to Congress, where several of Trump’s advisers used them to justify delaying or blocking the certification of the election during the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
The baseless claims of election fraud from the former president and his allies fueled the deadly insurrection at the Capitol building that day as a violent mob interrupted the certification of the Electoral College results.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a CNN interview this week that the Justice Department has received referrals from lawmakers regarding the fake certifications, and that prosecutors were now “looking at those.”
Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Eric Tucker, and Journal staff writer Rick Nathanson contributed to this report.