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Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, pressured Arizona lawmakers on 2020 election

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Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, urged Arizona state lawmakers to reverse former President Donald Trump's election loss in 2020 by choosing electors themselves.

The Washington Post first reported Friday on a move that adds new detail to the pressure campaign by national conservative figures and Arizona residents on state and local officials to avert Trump's narrow defeat.

Ginni Thomas' activism in the upper echelons of the conservative movement in Washington has raised cries for Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from some cases and for the adoption of clear ethics rules for the high court.

Her Arizona outreach came in a pair of emails to Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, and state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix, who was part of the committee overseeing elections, the Post reported.

Bowers did not see Thomas' message, he said Friday in a written statement to The Arizona Republic.

"The emails appear to have been among the hundreds of thousands of messages sent to the Speaker's office during that period," said Andrew Wilder, a spokesperson for Bowers. "Speaker Bowers did not see, much less read, the vast majority of those messages, including the form email sent by Mrs. Thomas."

Bolick, who is married to Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, responded to Thomas at the time by noting their personal relationship with the Thomases and told her how to file a formal complaint.

In a Twitter message Friday, Bolick, who is running for Arizona secretary of state, attacked the media.

"The dishonest media wants to distract attention from election fraud & our efforts to secure elections," she tweeted.

Bolick in early 2021 sponsored legislation that would have given the Arizona Legislature the authority to set aside the secretary of state's certification of a presidential election and allow the Legislature to pick the slate of electors.

It appeared to invoke the "Independent Legislature Doctrine" by stating "the Legislature retains its legislative authority regarding the Office of Presidential Elector" by allowing a majority vote of the 90-member body to revoke the secretary of state's certification of election returns any time before the presidential inauguration.

The bill never got to a committee vote and died, but not before sparking an uproar.

At the time, Bolick defended the bill in a written statement issued by her office.

"This bill would give the Arizona Legislature back the power it delegated to certify the electors. It is a good, democratic check and balance," she said in a statement.

In a February 2021 op-ed in the Washington Examiner, Bolick wrote that she envisioned her bill would have led to the creation of a bipartisan legislative commission to review election results. If it found misconduct, the commission would release a public report and the Legislature could then, by a two-thirds vote, decide which slate of electors to endorse.

That process, however, was not outlined in the bill.

On Friday, Bolick did not respond directly to The Republic's inquiry about whether Ginni Thomas' efforts played any role in her decision to introduce House Bill 2720. But in backing legislation that would give the Arizona Legislature the ability to pick the winning slate of electors, Bolick's bill was in line with the intent of Thomas' appeal to state legislators nationwide.

 A spokesperson for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich did not immediately say whether Thomas filed a formal complaint alleging fraud.

Thomas has been a strong supporter of Trump, and her outreach came just after media organizations had called Arizona for President Joe Biden in what proved to be the closest race in the country. She didn't mention any candidate by name, but given Biden's apparent victory at the time, the messages unmistakably urged a different result.

"Article II of the United States Constitution gives you an awesome responsibility: to choose our state's Electors," Thomas wrote in a Nov. 9 email, the Post said. "Please take action to ensure that a clean slate of Electors is chosen."

She told the lawmakers to "stand strong in the face of political and media pressure" and said they had the "power to fight back against fraud."

Thomas was not immediately available for comment. 

The messages are a reminder of how quickly Trump supporters concluded widespread election fraud, even as ballots were still being officially counted, and the radical plan for GOP-controlled states to pick electors to override voter choices was already being pursued in high places.   

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., suggested in a text message to Mark Meadows, Trump's then-chief of staff, on Nov. 6 — three days after the election — that in "states where there's been shenanigans" he submit alternate electors for Trump and have Republican-led legislatures formally support him despite apparent losses with voters, according to CNN, which obtained Meadows' messages.

The Biggs message includes language like "a look doors" where Biggs may have intended to say "electors." 

"I'm sure you have heard of this proposal," Biggs wrote. "It is to encourage the state legislatures to appoint a look doors in the various states where there's been shenanigans. If I understand right most of those states have Republican Legislature's. It seems to be comport with glorified Bush as well as the Constitution. And, well highly controversial, it can't be much more controversial than the lunacy that were sitting out there now. And It would be pretty difficult because he would take governors and legislators with collective will and backbone to do that. Is anybody on the team researching and considering lobbying for that?"

"I love it," Meadows responded.

Thomas also was reportedly in touch with Meadows during this period. 

Illegitimate alternate elector paperwork was submitted to Congress from seven states — including Arizona — as part of an effort intended to keep Trump in office.

Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at ronald.hansen@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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