A former attorney for Donald Trump has been publicly criticized for spreading “misrepresentations” about the 2020 US presidential election, including claims that the ex-US president’s legal team was able to “prove” the vote was fraudulent.
Jenna Ellis reached an agreement with Colorado attorney disciplinary officials on Wednesday, acknowledging that she had made 10 such “misrepresentations” about the election in television appearances and on Twitter.
The claims were made as Trump and his allies sought to cast doubt on the former president’s 2020 loss to President Joe Biden. To date, there is no evidence that the election was marred by widespread fraud.
Ellis and state officials agreed that her statements violated a Colorado rule against attorneys who engaged in “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” according to the opinion of Judge Bryon Large, the presiding disciplinary judge of the state.
The statements include a claim on Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s show on December 5, 2020, in which Ellis said “we have over 500,000 votes (in Arizona) that were cast illegally”.
She also told conservative network Newsmax on Dec. 15, 2020, that Trump was “the true and just victor.”
🚨To any news outlet that has contacted, will be contacting, or pretended to contact me or my attorneys:
You can use the following statements:
“My client remains a practicing attorney in good standing in the state of Colorado. In a very heated political climate, we have…
— Jenna Ellis 🇺🇸 (@JennaEllisEsq) March 9, 2023
On November 20, 2020, Ellis also told former Trump spokesperson and Newsmax host Sean Spicer, “With all those states (Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia) combined, we know that the election has been stolen from President Trump and we can prove .”
The censure effectively serves as a public slap on the wrist, but Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel said it “reinforces that even when they engage in political speeches, there’s a line lawyers can’t cross.”
Wednesday’s agreement found that “(Ellis)’s conduct undermined the confidence of the American public in the presidential election and violated its duty of candor to the public.”
She “had a selfish motive” and was “guilty of a pattern of misconduct,” it also says.
For her part, Ellis called the censure “politically motivated”. “They ultimately failed to destroy me and failed in their attempt to strip me of my bar license,” she tweeted Thursday.
Ellis’ attorney Michael Melito also said his client “remains a practicing attorney in good standing in the state of Colorado.” “In a very heated political climate, we secured that right outcome,” he added.
Ellis is the latest Trump attorney to be fined for spreading misinformation in the wake of the 2020 vote, a campaign many observers believe fueled the January 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters who tried to overturn the election results.
Nine Michigan attorneys were ordered in 2021 to pay $175,000 in penalties for a mock trial to overturn that swing state’s election.
Meanwhile, in December, disciplinary counsel for the District of Columbia bar called on Trump ally and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani to have his law license suspended for pursuing a baseless lawsuit over Biden’s win in Pennsylvania .
On Thursday, The 65 Project, an ethics group that filed the bar complaint against Ellis and other attorneys who spread election misinformation, criticized how long the censure process took.
“And frankly, while a strong rebuke, a public disapproval is not a particularly satisfying result given the direct line between Ms. Ellis’ deliberate actions and the January 6 attack on our nation’s Capitol,” the organization wrote. Twitter.
The courts are an important part of election deniers’ strategy to undermine democracy. We will not stop until all Big Lie attorneys are held accountable both in the court of public opinion and with the full weight of the grievance processes. /6
— The 65 Project (@The65Project) March 9, 2023