Lawyer Marc Elias has in some ways been the Democrats’ Forrest Gump of election controversies, showing up in the most high profile election cases of the past two decades.
Elias’ involvement spans the improbable Senate victory of comedian Al Franken in 2008 to litigation both before and after the 2020 election.
The lawyer’s reputation may have been the reason a spokesperson for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe suggested the campaign “try to kill” a Fox News storyHans von Spakovsky (a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation) stated that Elias was paid $53,000 by the campaign.
“I would suspect the reason they wanted to kill the story is that Marc Elias’ clients are often candidates that lost elections, and no candidate wants to give the impression they are worried about losing,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal.
McAuliffe, a Democrat and former governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, will face Glenn Youngkin Tuesday as he attempts to regain the post.
Here are four facts about Elias, 52 and his role as a top Democratic election lawyer.
1. Flipping Elections or Trying to do So
Elias turned a few Democrats who seemed to have lost on election night into winning candidates.
He was not part of the legal fight over Florida’s electoral votes in the disputed 2000 presidential election. Elias, however was busy in 2000 as part of the team representing Democrat Maria Cantwell in her election. defeatIn Washington state, incumbent Senator Slade Gorton is a Republican. Cantwell won with nearly 2.5 million votes. 2,200 votes.
Eight years later, Elias represented the Franken campaign in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race. Initial reports indicated that Sen. Norm Coleman (the Republican incumbent) had won. But the election went into overtime after recounts.
The biography of Elias can be found on the website of Perkins Coie. boasts that the Coleman-Franken race was “the largest recount and contest in American history.”
Franken led Coleman by 725 votes with nearly 3 million votes cast after Election Day. But after the first canvass, the incumbent’s lead was slashed to little more than 200 votes.
The recount continued for six months, until the final tally showed Franken winning with 312 votes.
Minnesota Majority, a conservative group, released an 18-monthly report in 2010. studyIt was found that at least 341 felons voted illegally during the Coleman-Franken contest. This is enough to have made a difference.
According to the study, most of the votes cast by felons were cast within the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Elias “helped Franken overturn the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota, and raised millions of dollars for that effort,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal. “They put together a complex political machine to count a lot of ballots that should not have been counted and reject other ballots.”
Elias represented Democrat Mark Herring after the razor-thin Virginia attorney general’s race in 2013.
On election night, Republican Mark Obenshain won Herring by 1,000 votes from 2.2 million voters. A week later, Herring was beaten by the results of local election boards. Herring won the state by 164 votes. The state certified the results on Nov. 25, a few weeks later.
Last year, Eias failed in litigation in which Rep. Ted Brindisi of D-N.Y. attempted to overturn the loss to Republican challenger Claudia Tenney.
2. Role in ‘Russia Collusion’ Narrative
Elias represented Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016 and was responsible for hiring the opposition research firm that would prompt the narrative that Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government to win the 2016 election.
Elias was responsible for hiring Fusion GPS, which resulted in an anti-Trump document written by former British spy Christopher Steele–the infamous “Steele dossier. The unverified dossier suggested that the Russians might have provided Trump with compromising, salacious information.
This document was also used as the basis for federal investigations into alleged collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian operatives to influence the 2016 election outcome.
The narrative eventually was debunked by the final report from special counsel Robert Mueller, which found that investigators “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”
3. Mail-In Voting Lawsuits
Elias was a leader in lawsuits across the country in 2020 to amend state laws to allow expanded mail-in voting and ballot harvesting. This was during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawyer had filed more then 20 lawsuits in 14 states by April last year and promised to double it by the end of the election cycle. NPR reported.
Ellias is the founder and CEO of Democracy Docket. This website focuses on election litigation.
He began the 2020 election cycle as general counsel for Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign. He ended the year as lead counsel for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, fending offNumerous lawsuits were filed by the Trump campaign following the election.
4. Federal Court Sanction
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sanctioned Elias and other lawyers with the Washington-based law firm of Perkins Coie for filing a “redundant and misleading” motion in a case over a Texas law that scrapped straight-ticket voting.
A panel of 5th Circuit judges determined that a motion in the case was “nearly identical” to a motion filed by the same lawyers in September. The judges said Elias and his colleagues “failed to notify the court that their previous and nearly identical motion was denied,” and that the “inexplicable failure” violated “their duty of candor to the court.”
The 5th Circuit panel also said the lawyers who filed the motion, “without directly saying so, sought reconsideration of their already denied motion.”
The court sanctioned Elias and Perkins Coie colleagues Skyler Howton and Stephanie Command, as well as Daniel Osher and Lalitha Madduri.
The lawyers represented the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Sylvia Bruni, chairwoman for the Webb County Democratic Party, was also represented by the lawyers.
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