Former state GOP chair expressed concern about fake electors plan just days before participating

Texts from Andrew Hitt were included in the final report of the US House's Jan. 6 committee

Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt
Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt. Photo courtesy of Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Then-Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt texted a colleague on Dec. 12, 2020 that top advisors to former President Donald Trump were “up to no good” as they discussed plans to use fake presidential electors to contest Trump’s defeat.

But two days later, Hitt and other Republicans met at the state Capitol to participate in those plans, casting what they portrayed as electoral votes for Trump on the same day Wisconsin’s actual electors cast their votes for Democrat Joe Biden.

Hitt’s texts were released this week as part of the final report of the U.S. House’s Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol. The committee subpoenaed Hitt as part of its investigation.

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According to the panel’s report, Hitt was notified in November that the Trump campaign wanted a list of Republican electors. The request prompted Hitt to text Mark Jefferson, the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s executive director.

“I am def concerned about their inquiry,” Hitt wrote at the time. “I hope they are not planning on asking us to do anything like try and say we are only the proper electors.”

The false electors scheme was set in motion by the Trump campaign shortly after the November 2020 election. A Nov. 18, 2020 memo from Trump campaign advisor Kenneth Chesebro laid out the strategy in a memo to Wisconsin attorney Jim Troupis, a longtime GOP lawyer who was overseeing the Trump recount in Wisconsin.

“It may seem odd that the electors pledged to Trump and Pence might meet and cast their votes on December 14 even if, at that juncture, the Trump-Pence ticket is behind in the vote count, and no certificate of election has been issued in favor of Trump and Pence,” Chesebro wrote at the time. “However, a fair reading of the federal statutes suggests that this is a reasonable course of action.”

When Hitt and other Republicans met to carry out the false electors strategy, they said they were preserving their role in the electoral process “with the final outcome still pending in the courts.” Multiple state and federal courts rejected lawsuits from the Trump campaign and its allies seeking to overturn Biden’s victory in Wisconsin.

The Jan. 6 committee said Hitt testified to the committee, saying of the false electors plan that he “was told that these would only count if a court ruled in our favor” and that he wouldn’t have supported anyone using the Trump electors’ votes without a court ruling.

Hitt did not respond to an email from Wisconsin Public Radio seeking comment. He stepped down from leading the state GOP last year and is now a partner at Michael Best Strategies.

While Republicans in other swing states also attempted to use the false elector strategy, there was an added complication to the plan in Wisconsin, as well as in Michigan.

According to the committee’s final report, those states’ fake elector vote certificates were not properly delivered and had not arrived in Washington D.C. by early January. The Trump campaign arranged to fly them to Washington just before the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 to deliver them to then-Vice President Mike Pence with the help of Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

Johnson’s chief of staff later tried to arrange for the senator to hand the electors to Pence, but he was told by member of Pence’s staff not to try.

“Do not give that to him,” said Pence aid Chris Hodgson. “He’s about to walk over to preside over the joint session, those were supposed to come in through the mail.”

The Jan. 6 committee’s final report said the fake electors never made it to Pence but would have been invalid even if they did arrive on time.