State Sen. Doug Mastriano hired ex-Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis as a legal adviser for his Pennsylvania gubernatorial bid.
The Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania announced on Monday that he hired one of the loudest and most visible figures in former President Donald Trump's failed attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election to stay in power.
GOP nominee Doug Mastriano brought on Jenna Ellis as a senior legal adviser for his gubernatorial campaign, saying in a statement that Ellis' "talent, experience, and legal expertise" will "be an important factor" in his race against Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro. Inside Elections, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election as a "Tilts Democratic" contest.
Ellis was an integral member of the Trump campaign's legal team that sought to steal the election.
She was onstage at the now-infamous news conference the Trump campaign held at Republican National Committee headquarters on Nov. 19, 2020, in which she described herself as a member of an "elite strike force" of lawyers working to challenge the election results in court and prove Trump's baseless allegations of voter fraud. Those lawsuits failed at nearly every level of the court system, and the campaign never proved its claims of widespread voter fraud.
Ellis was also a visible figure in the Trump campaign's strategy to hold hearings in state legislatures across the country to push baseless allegations of voter fraud.
And she reportedly authored two memos that sought to push then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify President Joe Biden's Electoral College win on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day a pro-Trump mob mercilessly beat law enforcement as they forced their way into the Capitol to try to keep Trump in power.
Ellis is currently being sued for defamation and civil conspiracy by James Savage, the voting machine warehouse custodian in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Savage's lawsuit alleges that Ellis — along with former Trump legal adviser Rudy Giuliani and other GOP officials — falsely claimed he tampered with voting machines. As a result, Savage said he has received threats and suffered two heart attacks.
"Simply put, Mr. Savage's physical safety, and his reputation, were acceptable collateral damage for the wicked intentions of the Defendants herein, executed during their lubricious attempt to question the legitimacy of President Joseph Biden's win in Pennsylvania — an effort utterly bereft of any evidence in support thereof, as stated by a number of state and federal courts in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania," the lawsuit reads.
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attacks subpoenaed Ellis in January over her role in the plot, alleging that Ellis "prepared and circulated two memos purporting to analyze the constitutional authority for the Vice President to reject or delay counting electoral votes from states that had submitted alternate slates of electors."
While Mastriano cites Ellis' "experience" as a reason why he brought her on as an adviser to his campaign, the New York Times reported in 2020 that Ellis had never appeared in either federal or circuit courts to argue Constitutional cases.
Mastriano, for his part, is also a prominent figure in the failed effort to overturn Biden's win.
As a member of the state Senate, Mastriano tried to appoint fake Electoral College electors who would choose Trump instead of Biden, despite the fact that Biden won Pennsylvania.
His campaign paid for buses of protesters to head to Washington, D.C., for Trump's "Stop The Steal" rally. Mastriano was later photographed past the police barricades on the Capitol grounds during the violent insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.
And he tried to push an Arizona-style "audit" of Pennsylvania's vote to try to prove the voter fraud lies.
Like Ellis, Mastriano has also been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee.
Mastriano is now the GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, where he would have the ability to overturn the results of an election if he didn't like the victor.
Last week, Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled state Senate passed a bill sponsored by Mastriano that would allow out-of-county poll watchers to challenge election officials and could lead to increased voter intimidation. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is term-limited, will likely veto the bill.
Democrats have warned that a Mastriano victory in November could pose a threat to the future of Pennsylvania's elections.
"Doug Mastriano won't be leaving his dangerous election conspiracy theories on the campaign trail. If he wins, they'll be the cornerstone of his administration," the Pennsylvania Democratic Party tweeted. "He is a threat to our fundamental rights at every level."
Inside Elections, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election as a "Tilts Democratic" contest.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.