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New RNC chief counsel Spies worked for Romney, Bush, DeSantis, downplayed 2020 election issues

"All of these examples, do not mean, by the way, that the election was stolen," Charlie Spies said. "When election officials' incompetence results in catastrophic errors and voters have to be concerned if their vote will count, voters lose their trust in the process,” Spies also wrote.

Published: April 15, 2024 11:00pm

Updated: April 16, 2024 2:37pm

Charlie Spies, the new Republican National Committee chief counsel, is an election lawyer who worked in support of presidential campaigns for Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Notably, Spies has long downplayed 2020 election issues as the GOP seeks to recapture the White House in the November election.

Last month, then-RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel resigned from her position, following poor fundraising hauls and three consecutive election cycles where Republicans underperformed, and was replaced by North Carolina Republican Party leader Michael Whatley as chairman and Lara Trump as co-chairperson.

After the new leadership was elected, new legal counsel was hired, including Spies as chief counsel, former President Donald Trump attorney Christina Bobb as senior counsel for election integrity, and Bill McGinley as outside counsel for election integrity.

While Bobb and McGinley have both worked for Trump on his campaign and in the White House, respectively, Spies has worked for other GOP presidential candidates in the 2012, 2016, and 2024 elections.

In 2015, while Spies advised pro-Bush PACs, he filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the Trump Organization. Spies alleged that Trump illegally used his business for campaign purposes when the Trump Organization’s general counsel sent cease-and-desist letters to the Right to Rise leadership PAC, the Club for Growth, and Bush donor Mike Fernandez.

In 2016, Spies was asked by CNN how everyone except Trump “could be so sure” that the election was invulnerable to fraud or being rigged.

Spies told CNN, “A presidential election in America can’t be rigged because there’s multi-levels of checks and balances, and those checks and balances are done in a bipartisan way. Any vote can be tracked, in terms of what’s on the machines, and then you can go back and make sure it wasn’t hampered with, and that’s done by state and local officials who are from different parties across the board, depending on where the election’s taking place.

“And the scale of conspiracy and collaboration that would have to take place to rig a national election would assume that Republican governors and Republican secretaries of state across the county were all working together with Democrats to try and hurt a Republican nominee, and that’s just not plausible,” he continued.

On President Biden’s inauguration day, Spies posted on X , "Congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris. May G-d Bless you with wisdom and justice and continue to bless America. #InaugurationDay"

Former Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington told Emerald Robinson on FrankSpeech that Spies’ history was concerning and that “somehow the establishment always keeps its foot in the door, no matter how they pry their way in there.”

She said that Spies is like the people who worked at the RNC during the 2020 election, when they “didn’t do anything to try to preempt the cheating in 2020.”

During a panel with Spies at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2021, Marci McCarthy, who is now chair of the DeKalb County GOP, explained how there was inadequate oversight of ballot adjudication in DeKalb County. Ballot adjudication is when ballots are unable to be processed by a scanner and a two-person team determines the voter’s intent. Spies purportedly didn’t understand how the adjudication worked, leading to McCarthy’s explanation.

Spies also said during the panel, “All of these examples, do not mean, by the way, that the election was stolen. It means that they were out there active and energized and had a message that got people to the polls.”

“We need to instill trust in the system and we need to change some of these laws, but more important is not the lawyers here, but all the political professionals and the politicians and the candidates to have a message that drives people to the polls and we win by such a margin that it’s not going to make a difference,” Spies added.

McCarthy told Robinson that Spies’ hiring was “100% surprising to me, because he really out said that none of this happened and tried to disregard everybody in the room that had genuine concerns, including my own of what I actually experienced, where I was a panelist in DeKalb County, Georgia, and I was adjudicating ballots.”

McCarthy also said, “The man that is the general counsel over election integrity at the RNC gives me heartburn that he’s going to be there and not gonna really be there for us on November 6th. And we’re doing so much to prevent the steal from happening again, and is he going to be there undermining everything that’s happening?”

She noted that the RNC hasn't joined Arizona GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Kari Lake's lawsuit that was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court while the Georgia GOP has filed an amicus brief along with the Arizona GOP and Delaware GOP. Lake's lawsuit alleges that Arizona’s use of electronic voting machines violates both the U.S. Constitution and state law.

"Where are they? Why aren't they standing up with us across the board?" McCarthy asked of the RNC regarding the lawsuit.

While on the CPAC 2021 panel, Spies said that he was in Antrim County, Mich., during the 2020 election and that there were votes flipped by a machine that were caught and corrected.

“We were suspicious for a long time that perhaps there was a software glitch statewide, because other people use the same software, and there is just zero evidence that’s true,” Spies said.

However, while downplaying some election concerns, Spies has also supported election integrity legislation. Last June, Spies testified as a witness at a House Administration Committee hearing in support of the "American Confidence in Elections Act."

“When election officials' incompetence results in catastrophic errors and voters have to be concerned if their vote will count, voters lose their trust in the process,” Spies wrote in his prepared statement.

“Whether it was in Detroit where in 2020 the majority of precincts were out of balance (meaning the number of votes cast didn’t match the number of voters at the precinct), or a few months ago in Maricopa County, Arizona, where half the polling places on election day had printer and tabulator malfunctions, or in Luzerne County in Pennsylvania where they ran out of paper ballots disenfranchising thousands of voters, or when Pinal County sent out 60,000 erroneous ballots to voters, society’s confidence in the our elections wane. It is understandable when voters have concerns with the efficacy of the electoral process in certain states and territories,” he added.

The RNC and Spies didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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