We recently discussed how figures like New York Times columnist Tom Friedman calling on people to move to Georgia to rig the vote in favor of a Democratic takeover of the Senate. It did not seem to matter to either the newspaper or Friedman that he was encouraging the commission of a felony. Yet, Friedman is not a lawyer. What is more disconcerting is that lawyers are alleged to be involved in such efforts. Recently, Georgia officials confirmed that they are investigating The New Georgia Project — a group founded by lawyer Stacey Abrams — for allegedly seeking to register out of state voters and deceased individuals. On the Republican side, Florida attorney Bill Price is facing a more direct and serious investigation than Abrams (who has not been personally implicated in such actions). Price is shown in a video boasting of his own registration in Georgia at the home of his brother and encouraging others to do the same.
These groups often have ample legal advisers who are aware of the calls for fraudulent registrations. The commission of such crimes would occur despite express warnings from state officials and raise question of willful blindness on the part of counsel.
Now we have a video of Price speaking to Bay County GOP members in Florida calling for registrations using false addresses. The date is notable. It was Nov. 7th, just after the election was called for Joe Biden. Price explains that it is unlikely to overturn the results of the presidential election in court and then states:
“We absolutely have to hold the Senate and we have to start fighting back, and we have to do whatever it takes. And if that means changing your address for the next two months, so be it. I’m doing that. I’m moving to Georgia and I’m gonna fight and I want you all to fight with me.”
He is referring to his brother Hiram and spells out his name and address for those in the room to write down. One women is heard asking “We can truly register at that address?”
Price responds “sure” and notes that they can register anywhere in the state to vote in the runoff. He goes into details like having mail sent to the address to satisfy state rules. While his brother has claimed that the remarks were “tongue and cheek,” the statements would seem to belie that defense.
Deidre Holden, Paulding County’s election supervisor, confirmed that they have a voter registration pending for Price. What is more interesting is that the office is going to ask him to bring in his driver’s license to “cure” and complete the registration. That could be raised as a defense that Price never actually registered.
It would still arguably constitute solicitation and conspiracy. Here is the provisions under Georgia law:
(a) (1) A person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.
(2) A person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the second degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a misdemeanor under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.
(b) (1) A person convicted of the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than three years.
(2) A person convicted of the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the second degree shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.
(c) It is no defense to a prosecution for criminal solicitation to commit election fraud that the person solicited could not be guilty of the crime solicited.
(d) The provisions of subsections (a) through (c) of this Code section are cumulative and shall not supersede any other penal law of this state.
21-2-603. Conspiracy to commit election fraud
A person commits the offense of conspiracy to commit election fraud when he or she conspires or agrees with another to commit a violation of this chapter. The crime shall be complete when the conspiracy or agreement is effected and an overt act in furtherance thereof has been committed, regardless of whether the violation of this chapter is consummated. A person convicted of the offense of conspiracy to commit election fraud involving a violation of this chapter which is a felony shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than one-half the maximum period of time for which he or she could have been sentenced if he or she had been convicted of the crime conspired to have been committed, by one-half the maximum fine to which he or she could have been subjected if he or she had been convicted of such crime, or both. A person convicted of the offense of conspiracy to commit election fraud involving a violation of this chapter which is a misdemeanor shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.
The facilitation or encouragement of fraudulent voting could obviously expose Price to bar actions, if proven.
There are reportedly over 250 such cases under investigation in Georgia concerning registration for the runoff election, which is not surprising given the irresponsible calls from figures like Friedman and Price. However, the involvement of attorneys in such efforts is particularly alarming.
I have been highly critical of the role of lawyers in some of the worst aspects of the post-election rage. Thousands of lawyers have supported the Lincoln Project in its campaign of abuse and harassment of other lawyers representing the Republican Party or the President. The silence from lawyers in failing to condemn this improper campaign is deafening.
It is an example of how rage has overcome reason in our politics, including the role of lawyers committing even violent acts as forms of protest.