South County lawmakers join Giuliani in calls to investigate voter fraud

Tempers run high as GOP, Democrats divided on fraud

The+Missouri+State+Capitol+building+in+Jefferson+City.+

The Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City.

By Tessa Weinberg and Rudi Keller

More than a month after the Nov. 3 presidential election, over half of Missouri’s Republican state representatives — including the incoming speaker of the House and nearly all South County’s GOP legislators — called on Congress to refuse to certify six battleground states’ electoral college votes unless they investigate their results.

Rep. Justin Hill, a Republican from Lake St. Louis, filed a nonbinding resolution Dec. 10 declaring that the Missouri House has a “lack of faith” in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin’s presidential election results.

After a testy committee hearing Dec. 14 that featured a videconferenced cameo from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, the call for an investigation appeared to die as a GOP committee head declined to hold another required hearing.

Hill’s call was outlined in a letter Dec. 9 to outgoing House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield. He was joined by 66 other Republican lawmakers, including incoming House Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, along with most of South County’s GOP delegation: Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Oakville, who represents the 94th District; Rep. David Gregory, R-Sunset Hills, the 96th; and Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, the 97th.

The lone local GOP legislator who did not sign the letter was Rep. Michael O’Donnell of the 95th District, R-Oakville.

Hill believed lawmakers of those six states must call themselves into a special session in order to investigate their respective results and, if necessary, appoint new members of the Electoral College.

All six states’ election results were in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

The states cast their electoral votes in December; the U.S. Congress was set to consider whether to accept them on Jan. 6, after The Call went to press. U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, said he would challenge the results, forcing Congress to vote to accept them.

Haahr referred Hill’s resolution to the House Special Committee on Government Oversight, which held a hearing Dec. 14. The Senate is not involved in the resolution, since it is purely symbolic.

“We are the Show-Me State. Let us demand other states show Missouri that fraud did NOT change the outcome,” said Hill’s letter signed by lawmakers.

In November, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s division that oversees election security said there had been “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

In early December, then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that the Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, despite President Donald Trump’s repeated, baseless claims otherwise.

Rep. Keri Ingle, a Democrat from Lee’s Summit, said it’s up to those making the allegations to prove them and questioned the weight such a resolution would hold.

“Do you think we have the authority to do that?” Ingle replied to Hill on Twitter. “Do blue states have the ability to call us into special session?”

Missouri’s own electors met Dec. 14 at the Missouri Capitol to cast their votes for the president and vice president, where they were “bound by honor” to vote for the winners of the state’s popular vote and did just that.

Trump easily won Missouri’s 10 electoral votes, leading by about 15.4 points over Biden. Biden easily won St. Louis County.

Hill’s letter came on the heels of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme court to invalidate the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which the U.S. Supreme Court later declined to hear.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt was among 17 attorneys general who threw their support behind the legal challenge Dec. 13, which claimed that changes to election procedures amid the pandemic violated federal law.

Legal experts told The Texas Tribune that Paxton’s challenge faced an uphill battle, and attorneys general of the states being challenged have said the lawsuit is a “publicity stunt” and “a waste of tax dollars.”

Schmitt met with the president Dec. 10.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, pilloried both Schmitt and the House GOP for seeking to “invalidate the lawful votes of other states in a ludicrous attempt to steal the presidential election for Donald Trump.”

“Their actions cannot be dismissed as mere partisan scheming and are dangerous to the integrity of our entire system of government,” Quade said. “This is insanity on a fast track to dystopian nightmare.”

Tempers run high with Giuliani

A Democratic state representative accused Trump attorney Giuliani of lying to overturn the presidential election in a hearing held by a state committee Dec. 14. The former New York City mayor responded by calling the lawmaker dangerous to democracy.

The exchange came during a House Special Committee on Government Oversight hearing on the resolution asking Congress to reject the electoral votes of six states won by Biden if claims of fraud are not investigated.

After ticking off the Republican officials and judges who have rejected claims of fraud and other election shenanigans, state Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, asked Giuliani: “Are all these Republicans lying? Are they complicit? Are they incompetent?”

In response, Giuliani said: “Instead of getting so upset and angry I would ask you to calm down and look at the videotape from Fulton County …”

Merideth cut in.

“I won’t be calm with people trying to overthrow the results of an election and seeking to ignore the votes of six states of Americans,” he said. “I think we are right to be upset.”

As the committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Robert Ross of Yukon tried to end Merideth’s questioning, but the South City Democrat and Giuliani continued to spar.

“I have no interest in more and more lies,” Merideth said.

“You are very dangerous because you are covering up a massive election fraud,” Giuliani retorted.

The heated exchange came about 90 minutes into the hearing on the legislation sponsored by Hill. When the testimony was over, the committee voted 6-3 on party lines to approve the nonbinding resolution which states that the Missouri House has “no faith” in the vote tallies of six battleground states.

But it is unlikely the full 163-member House will get a chance to debate or vote on the resolution. House Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee Chairman Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, issued a statement that night saying he will not convene the second hearing required to send the bill to the full House.