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Georgia’s lieutenant governor to face inquiry for role as fake Trump elector

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 07: Burt Jones, Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor speaks as Republican Governor Brian Kemp listens at a press conference on November 7, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kemp is in a rematch with Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. There is also a close Senate race between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Republican Herschel Walker. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)  (Elijah Nouvelage)
By Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim New York Times

Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones will be investigated for his role as a fake elector for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, a state official said Thursday.

Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, has already brought racketeering and other charges against Trump and several top allies in a sweeping election case. But she was disqualified in 2022 from continuing to investigate Jones, a Republican, because she had hosted a fundraiser for his political rival.

On Thursday, Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said he would take up the Jones inquiry, after facing criticism for not moving more quickly to find a new prosecutor to substitute for Willis. Skandalakis is a former district attorney. His decision was previously reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I will be handling Burt Jones,” Skandalakis, a Republican, said in a text message Thursday. He declined to elaborate on the matter. By law, it falls to the head of the prosecuting attorneys council, a state government entity, to choose a replacement when a prosecutor on a case is found to have a conflict of interest.

Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Trump campaign enlisted fake presidential electors in 2020 in a number of swing states where Trump was defeated, as part of an effort to circumvent the outcome of the voting. Twenty-four of those electors are facing charges in three states.

Willis, a Democrat, chose to reach cooperation deals with most of the fake Georgia electors, but she did charge three who had prominent political roles in the state, including David Shafer, the former head of the state Republican Party. At the time of the 2020 election, Jones was a state senator.

Jones was an early backer of Trump’s in Georgia. Jones is widely considered now to be laying the groundwork for a campaign for governor in 2026, when Gov. Brian Kemp cannot run for reelection because of term limits.

Kemp has had a fraught relationship with Trump. Kemp declined when Trump asked him to help overturn his narrow loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. But Kemp has said he would support Trump in the 2024 race.

In addition to serving as a fake elector for Trump in December 2020, Jones argued for a special session of the state Legislature to be called to overturn Trump’s loss in Georgia, and signed on to a lawsuit seeking to do the same. Both of those efforts failed,

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Jones flew to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5, 2021, to try to persuade Vice President Mike Pence to delay certification of the Electoral College votes, although Jones told the news outlet that he ultimately did not raise the matter with Pence.

Jones has since defended those actions.

“I mean, what people were doing — and this isn’t something that’s new — people were asking questions about elections,” he said in a September interview.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.