Following Trump indictment, agency moves on investigation of Lt. Gov. Jones

A state agency is moving ahead with plans that will determine whether Lt. Gov. Burt Jones faces criminal charges as part of a scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Jones is one of 30 people who prosecutors said participated in a conspiracy to overturn the election but were not charged in a Fulton County indictment released late Monday. But Jones may yet face charges, and his fate will rest with a special prosecutor who will determine whether further investigation is needed.

Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia, said he has reviewed the Fulton County indictment and hopes to appoint a special prosecutor to consider Jones’ actions soon.

In a social media post Tuesday afternoon, Jones did not directly address a possible investigation of his actions. He said Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had spent millions of taxpayer dollars and 2½ years “orchestrating a constant media and PR campaign for the sole purpose of furthering her own political career.”

“While the Fulton County district attorney continues to pursue the political vendettas of the past — I have and will continue to look forward, solving the most pressing issues facing our city and our state,” Jones added.

The steps toward a possible investigation of Jones follow Monday’s indictment of 19 people — including former President Donald Trump — on allegations that they conspired to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia in 2020.

Jones, a state senator at the time, played a prominent role as Republicans in the General Assembly considered rejecting Georgia’s official presidential electors and appointing a slate of Trump electors instead.

Jones and a handful of other senators pressed for a special legislative session to consider appointing the Trump electors, supported lawsuits that sought to void the results and pressed Vice President Mike Pence to reject the official results when Congress met to certify Biden’s victory.

Monday’s Fulton County indictment did not name Jones, but it referenced his efforts to rally support for overturning Biden’s victory. It noted that on Dec. 7, 2020, a tweet by “unindicted co-conspirator Individual 8″ urged Georgians to “call your state Senate & House Reps & ask them to sign the petition for a special session. We must have free & fair elections in GA & this is our only path to ensuring every legal vote is counted.”

The tweet matches one that Jones shared on the same date.

The indictment mostly notes Jones’ role as one of the fake Republican electors. In that capacity, the indictment says Individual 8 participated in a conspiracy that involved impersonating a public officer by falsely saying they were the state’s duly elected presidential electors, forging fake Electoral College paperwork, making false statements and writings, and filing false documents.

The indictment includes charges against some Republican electors — such as state Sen. Shawn Still — but not others. It’s unclear whether Willis intended to charge Jones, but she never got the chance.

Last year, Jones objected to being investigated by Willis after she hosted a fundraiser for the eventual Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, Charlie Bailey. Jones argued Willis’ political support for his opponent constituted a conflict of interest.

Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney disqualified Willis and her office from questioning Jones as part of their investigation. The judge asked the prosecuting attorneys council — a state agency that assists district attorneys — to appoint an outside prosecutor to investigate Jones.

Skandalakis was waiting for Willis to complete her investigation. Now that the grand jury has acted, he said he has reached out to Willis to obtain a copy of a special grand jury report on her investigation and to get a briefing on the investigation to date.

With that information in hand, Skandalakis said he will find a special prosecutor to make the final decision on whether more investigation or criminal charges against Jones are warranted.

Finding a special prosecutor may not be easy. Skandalakis said state law limits the special prosecutor’s compensation to less than $60 per hour — not much for many lawyers — plus some travel costs. If the prosecutor wants the help of an investigator or administrative assistant, he or she must bear the cost out of pocket.

It’s unclear how soon Skandalakis will appoint a prosecutor or how soon a prosecutor will make a determination about Jones’ case. But Skandalais said the special prosecutor will not be bound by the timetable of Willis’ case.