Note: This is the first in a multi-part series examining some of the activities of Democrat attorney Marc Elias. This article covers Elias’ questionable practices while contesting close political races and securing disputed election results. Future articles will explore Elias’ role in state redistricting efforts, the Steele dossier and campaign fundraising violations.
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) As incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, D.-Fla., watched his seat slip away by a narrow margin on Tuesday, adding another pickup into the GOP win column, the idea of conceding defeat may have been the last thing on his mind.
Instead, Nelson called on liberal super-attorney Marc Elias, the chair of the Political Law Group at the powerful D.C. firm Perkins Coie, who for more than two decades has been helping the Left secure dubious election victories under questionable circumstances.
Among the accolades on Elias’ Perkins Coie biography is a Washington Post description of him as a “go-to lawyer for Democrats in recount fights and redistricting battles.”
But when it comes to having a direct impact on undermining the fabric of democracy and tilting the scales leftward, Elias—despite often operating in plain site and under the most mundane of circumstances—stands above the rest.
Although not typically a household name, he has had his hand in nearly every recent court challenge brought by the national Democratic Party, was the general counsel of the Hillary Clinton and John Kerry campaigns, and served as personal attorney to figures like Harry Reid and Barack Obama.
A Checkered Past
Ever since the Supreme Court was tapped to settle 2000’s disputed Bush vs. Gore recount in Florida, the importance of a powerful legal presence in elections is not taken for granted. As voting is an imperfect art, riddled with broken machines and dimpled chads—not to mention modern-era hacking concerns—it sometimes comes down to who can force, extend or stop a recount at the right moment.
Democrats have been remarkably blunt about the use of no-holds-barred tactics deployed in narrow races, whether it is through soft intimidation, voter fraud or placing corrupt officials in key positions to certify the vote. Even if their skulduggery is later discovered, once an oath is taken or a precedent established, it is difficult to reverse.
During my career handling recounts, we have averaged one statewide recount-able election (excluding for president). Not all of these have resulted in recounts, but almost all have involved some post election legal activity. pic.twitter.com/F0XnX2RP7m
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) November 4, 2018
From his first high-profile case, representing Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, a trail of voter-fraud accusations has followed Elias’ clients, along with a pattern of repeated recounts that result in Republican victories getting overturned by the narrowest of margins.
Several of the Senate candidates Elias secured unlikely victories for early in their careers, such as Washington’s Maria Cantwell and Montana’s Jon Tester, remain vital to the current Democratic caucus.
When Election Day ended, Republican Norm Coleman had the advantage by 215 votes, which triggered an automatic recount. As votes were contested and re-examined by state officials, shockingly, several bags of ballots were reported to have gone missing from Democrat-friendly areas, only to be ‘rediscovered’ after Elias sent a letter to the precincts.
The votes—which Coleman contended were likely duplicates or otherwise illicitly recorded—gave Franken the edge by 312. Despite Coleman’s wish to continue fighting the court battle, Franken and Elias forcefully insisted that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty certify the race for him so that newly elected President Barack Obama could commence his legislative agenda. Democrat Secretary of State Mark Richie joined Franken and Elias in petitioning the courts to force the issue, and ultimately certified in Franken’s favor.
In addition to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the mystery ballots, U.S. News & World Report later noted that approximately 400 felons in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area had been allowed to vote in the election; others estimated it even higher.
Virginia (2013) and North Carolina (2016)
When Elias cropped up again in the 2013 challenge of Virginia’s attorney general race, few were surprised that ballots again began to miraculously appear. The race had narrowly propelled former Democratic National Committee chair and close Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe to the governor’s mansion, but Republican AG candidate Mark Obenshain stood in the way of a complete Democratic routing that would help turn the formerly red state a solid blue prior to Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.
Obenshain capped off election night with a 1,200 vote lead, but soon thereafter, new votes started getting discovered in Virginia’s liberal enclaves of Richmond and Fairfax that left Democrat Mark Herring victorious with a certified margin of 165 votes. Obenshain subsequently requested a recount, which boosted Herring’s lead to around 900.
By November 2016, Elias was gaining a reputation for being enmeshed in suspicious campaign operations like Fusion GPS’s Steele dossier. However, that didn’t stop North Carolina’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Roy Cooper, from securing him in a fight against Republican incumbent Pat McCrory.
Like its northern neighbor Virginia, the Tar Heel State seemed vulnerable to a blue conversion, but McCrory, who had famously opposed legislative efforts to mandate transgender bathrooms, stood in the way.
Unlike earlier contests, Elias found himself playing defensive as Cooper finished slightly ahead of McCrory.
With the race too close to call, by a margin of less than 5,000 votes, Cooper declared an election-night victory.
McCrory, however, raised multiple accusations of voter fraud that included Democratic campaign organizations paying people to fill out absentee ballots and counting the votes of dead people.
McCrory also questioned the late arrival of 90,000 votes from left-leaning Durham County on the night of the election that had put Cooper ahead.
Several precincts, including Durham, scoffed at and actively fought McCrory’s call’s for a recount. Not surprisingly, as the ballots in contested areas were re-examined, Cooper’s lead continued to grow, more than doubling to a total of 10,277 by time McCrory ultimately conceded.
Ironically, as he fought to prevent McCrory from due process, the duplicitous Elias was continuing to represent Hillary Clinton and penned a blog post bemoaning the possibility of outside interference in the presidential election. Even though he had never “uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside [emphasis added– ed.] attempts to alter the voting technology,” Elias nonetheless threatened to pursue recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
“It should go without saying that we take these concerns extremely seriously” Elias said. “We certainly understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton, and it is a fundamental principle of our democracy to ensure that every vote is properly counted.”
Two other possible Democratic challenges could have major political implications. In the Georgia governor’s race, where Democrat Stacey Abrams (48.7 percent) so far has refused to concede, an automatic runoff election would be triggered there if Republican Brian Kemp’s tally (currently at 50.3 percent) fell below the 50 percent mark.
And in the Arizona Senate race to replace Sen. Jeff Flake, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema’s 1 percentage point deficit to Republican Martha McSally means that election officials are now turning to things like the “late early ballots” dropped off at polling places on Election Day.
Election watchers should not be surprised if a bag of votes miraculously turns up in Elias’ trunk to put one or more of his Democratic clients over the top. Stranger things have happened.
“We’re doing this not just because it’s automatic, but we’re doing it to win,” Elias said in a statement about the potential Nelson challenge, the Associated Press reported.
The statement echoed another Elias client, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s shockingly candid response during a 2015 interview discussing his upcoming Senate retirement. When asked why, during the 2012 election, he made a deliberately deceptive statement about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax records, Reid’s reply: “Romney didn’t win, did he?”