Who are the five unindicted co-conspirators in Arizona’s fake elector criminal case?

Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate at a "Stop the Steal" rally in front of the Maricopa County Elections Department office on Nov. 7, 2020. The protesters believed unfounded allegations pushed by Trump and other Republican officials and activists that Joe Biden was elected president through cheating or malfeasance, assertions that have been rejected by elections officials in Arizona and across the country, and also by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which concluded that there "is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." Photo by Mario Tama | Getty Images

Attorney General Kris Mayes announced Wednesday that a grand jury had indicted 18 people in a fake elector scheme that aimed to install Donald Trump as president after he lost the 2020 election. Those indicted included two Arizona state senators and the former head of the Arizona Republican Party. 

But the indictment also detailed the actions of five unindicted co-conspirators. Although they weren’t named in the indictment, context clues within the indictment make it relatively easy to identify who those five people are. They include Trump and two former state legislators.

Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1

The first unnamed co-conspirator is easily identified as Trump. The indictment describes him as a “former president of the United States who spread false claims of election fraud following the 2020 election.” 

A large number of the falsehoods spread by Trump in the days following the 2020 election circulated around Arizona, and specifically Maricopa County. Investigators hired by Trump found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and a partisan ballot review of Maricopa County by the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate that Trump encouraged found more votes for President Joe Biden than previously discovered and no fraud. 

Unindicted Co-Conspirator 2

The second unindicted co-conspirator is described as a “former member of the Arizona legislature” who helped “organize and distribute” a “false document” that claimed the Arizona legislature had the power to choose the slate of electors the state would send. 

The unindicted co-conspirator is likely former state Sen. Kelly Townsend who spread numerous false claims surrounding the 2020 election, including that ballots had been flown in from South Korea

The indictment mentions that former Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward and Townsend spoke to “the Mayor,” who is believed to be former New York City mayor and Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani, about Trump’s request that the false electors vote in all the contested states. 

Both Ward and Townsend expressed concern that “it could appear treasonous” for them to vote if there was no pending court proceeding that could eventually lead to their slate of electors being ratified. 

While Townsend was a lawmaker, she was known for her spreading of conspiracy theories, attacking the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and encouraging vigilantes to watch ballot drop boxes for non-existent fraud.  

Townsend was also subpoenaed by the FBI in regards to their probe of the Jan. 6 riot. 

Unindicted Co-Conspirator 3

The third unindicted co-conspirator is described as a “former member of the Arizona legislature” who helped organize a hearing at a hotel in Nov. 2020. 

This third co-conspirator is former lawmaker Mark Finchem, who unsuccessfully ran for secretary of state in 2022. 

Finchem organized a “hearing” at a hotel in Phoenix that aimed to show “evidence” of election fraud and malfeasance. Former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers did not allow Finchem to hold the hearing at the legislature, so Finchem instead held it at the hotel. Bowers was already facing pressure from Trump and Trump connected people to overturn the election results. 

Giuliani and other Trump allies spread unfounded claims around Arizona’s election at the hearing. 

Finchem is well-known for his conspiratorial beliefs and connections to far-right extremist groups, such as the OathKeepers. Finchem has appeared on a number of QAnon talk shows and spoken at QAnon conferences that featured antisemitic imagery.  

Finchem also claimed without evidence in a 2020 interview that there are “elected officials” involved in a “pedophile network.” Finchem has also compared “cancel culture” to the murder of six million people in the Holocaust.

The former lawmaker also was at the Jan. 6 riot and was much closer to the Capitol than he claimed he had been. 

The day before Jan. 6, Finchem addressed a crowd of Trump loyalists, joking that the day’s rain storm was God washing away the stench of Washington, D.C. The “pre-rally” held on Jan. 5 at Freedom Plaza contained a who’s who of the political fringe and members of the #StopTheSteal movement

Finchem was introduced by Ali Alexander, a #StopTheSteal leader and the organizer of that day’s rally and the larger one on Jan. 6, at which Trump implored his followers to march to the Capitol and “show strength” to stop a “rigged” election. 

Finchem and his attorneys have also been sanctioned multiple times for election related lawsuits he has brought. Most recently, a lawsuit led by Finchem and failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was refused to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. 

Unindicted Co-Conspirator 4

The fourth co-conspirator is described as an “attorney for the Trump campaign” who encouraged the fake electors plan and helped organize those efforts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin. 

This person is likely Kenneth Cheseboro. 

Chesebro, who pleaded guilty last year to election interference crimes in Georgia as part of a racketeering case, has been cooperating with prosecutors in Nevada and Georgia, and it was reported that he met with Mayes’ investigators

The Trump campaign attorney is considered one of the main architects of the fake elector scheme, as he wrote memos detailing how Republicans could send the slate of false electors. 

The indictment cites many emails sent by Chesebro. 

Unindicted Co-Conspirator 5

The fifth co-conspirator is described as an “Arizona attorney” who worked for the Trump campaign and represented Ward and the Republican Party in a lawsuit against certifying the state’s Democratic electors. 

This person is Jack Wilenchik, who was the AZGOP’s attorney in 2020. He has also represented Finchem, as well as the Florida-based contractors hired by the Arizona Senate to conduct the “audit” of the 2020 election. 

Wilenchik has been instrumental in filing a number of dubious lawsuits aimed at overturning the results of the election. These lawsuits have led to Wilenchik being forced to pay attorney fees for the lawsuits. He also took part in other prominent election lawsuits that were summarily thrown out. 

In emails, Wilenchik admitted to the other co-conspirators that the false elector scheme was not “legal under federal law” and repeatedly referred to the votes as “fake.” 

There were multiple fake elector schemes in Arizona, one tied to the AZGOP that included the unindicted co-conspirators as well as another one by the Sovereign Citizens of the Great State of Arizona that was not tied to the Trump campaign. 

Georgia, Michigan and Nevada have already brought charges against fake electors there, and Wisconsin is still investigating possible charges for its fake electors.

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