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Clayton lawyer pushing Trump's election fraud claims in Michigan

Clayton lawyer pushing Trump's election fraud claims in Michigan

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CLAYTON — A longtime election and campaign lawyer here is pushing claims of election fraud in Michigan on behalf of the campaign of President Donald Trump.

Mark “Thor” Hearne is representing Trump’s campaign and GOP election challengers in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Michigan. The suit names as defendants the Michigan secretary of state and others.

The suit claims election officials in Wayne County “refused to permit statutorily designated challengers to observe the conduct of the election and the processing of ballots” and “pre-dated ballots that were not eligible to be counted.”

Hearne is asking a judge to block certification of the Wayne County tally.

Hearne’s fraud claims in a different Michigan lawsuit were all rejected by Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens last week, who called one “inadmissible hearsay within hearsay.”

Hearne did not respond to messages from the Post-Dispatch seeking comment.

The Michigan lawsuits are among at least 17 filed by the Trump campaign in various states, The Associated Press has found, alleging election fraud or misconduct with little or no solid foundation.

The New York Times surveyed officials in all 50 states and said that none reported irregularities that would affect the outcome of the election.

That has led some lawyers to suggest that Trump campaign lawyers could be subject to sanctions for filing frivolous suits.

But Michael Downey, a lawyer who teaches legal ethics in St. Louis, said lawyers are given “pretty wide latitude to pursue claims that may or may not have a legal or factual basis, even when significant public interests like who fairly won an election are not at issue.”

A lawyer can pursue claims that sound plausible even without doing his or her own investigation first, Downey said in an email.

Hearne is a former Republican congressional candidate who has represented a number of political campaigns, including George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign. This fall, he filed a lawsuit in Michigan over grants to local election boards in Democratic-leaning areas of the state.

Asked in 2005 if he believed a lot of voter fraud occurred, Hearne told the Post-Dispatch that he did not know, but said, “it would be hard for me to see that you could commit voter fraud on a level that you can influence an election, only if the election was within more than 1%, well maybe 2%.”

Democrat Joe Biden received 50.6% of the vote in Michigan to Trump’s 47.9%, according to the AP.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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