State bar investigates two Georgia Trump electors

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

The State Bar of Georgia is investigating two Republican lawyers who served as fake presidential electors for then-President Donald Trump.

The bar association notified Brad Carver of Atlanta and Daryl R. Moody of Alpharetta on July 15 that it has referred complaints against them to the State Disciplinary Board. The complaints were filed in March by a nonprofit legal watchdog that said the attorneys violated professional conduct rules by falsely swearing to be Georgia’s official presidential electors in documents submitted to state and federal officials.

The bar investigation is the latest round of legal scrutiny for the 16 Georgia Republicans who served as Trump electors in 2020. The U.S. Justice Department and the House Jan. 6 committee also are investigating their actions. And a Fulton County special grand jury recently notified the electors they’re the targets of a criminal probe.

Carver and Moody could not be reached for comment. In an April letter to the bar association, Carver criticized the 65 Project, which filed the complaint, for “weaponizing the bar’s grievance process and attempting to ruin attorneys’ lives and reputations for perceived political gain.”

Michael Teter, the attorney who filed the complaints for the 65 Project, said the organization is “pleased the bar is moving forward with this.”

At issue are the actions of the Republican electors who met in December 2020 to vote for Trump — even though Democrat Joe Biden won Georgia by a narrow margin. The Republicans cast their ballots for Trump while the state’s official electors voted for Biden.

At the time, Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer said the Republican electors were casting votes to preserve Trump’s legal options in then-pending litigation that sought to overturn Biden’s victory. Since then, evidence has emerged that fake electors in Georgia and other states that Biden won played a key role in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Some legal experts believe the electors may have violated state and federal laws such as forgery and election fraud. The Fulton County grand jury and the Justice Department are investigating any crimes that may have been committed.

The 65 Project is taking a different approach. It has filed ethics complaints in numerous states against attorneys who were involved in various aspects of Trump’s campaign to overturn the election.

In the Georgia complaints, the organization said Carver and Moody disregarded the U.S. Constitution and violated federal and state laws. It said the attorneys also violated professional rules against engaging in dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful acts and asked the association to investigate and discipline the attorneys.

In his written response, Carver said the Republican Party informed him the electors’ vote was needed to preserve Trump’s litigation, which was later withdrawn. Carver accused the 65 Project of targeting Republican lawyers to intimidate and discourage them from participating in election litigation.

But the State Bar of Georgia has notified Carver and Moody it has opened formal investigations into their conduct, according to the notices to the attorneys obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The State Disciplinary Board will now investigate and determine whether there is probable cause of a violation. If the bar ultimately determines discipline is warranted, it could range from a confidential or public reprimand to suspension or disbarment.

In March the 65 Project filed a third complaint against attorney William McCall Calhoun Jr. of Americus, who faces federal criminal charges for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The status of the complaint against McCall is unclear.

The three Georgia attorneys aren’t the only ones facing possible disciplinary action.

Last summer, a federal judge in Michigan referred Lin Wood, Sidney Powell and seven other attorneys for possible disbarment for what she called “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in connection with a lawsuit that sought to overturn the election there. Judges in Colorado and Washington have also sanctioned attorneys for lawsuits challenging the election.

Courts in New York and Washington have suspended the law licenses of Rudy Giuliani, who played a key role in Trump’s campaign. And the California Bar Association is investigating the actions of attorney John Eastman, who provided a dubious legal rationale for Trump’s failed effort to persuade Vice President Mike Pence to reject legitimate presidential electors in Georgia and other states.

What’s next

The State Bar of Georgia has referred complaints against two fake Republican presidential electors to the State Disciplinary Board. The board will investigate the complaints and determine whether there is probable cause to believe the electors — both attorneys — violated professional ethics rules.