Senate candidate John Fetterman has tapped a scandal-plagued Democratic superlawyer to force Pennsylvania’s election boards to count undated mail-in ballots, which the state supreme court outlawed earlier this month.
Elias Law Group, the firm founded by veteran Democratic attorney Marc Elias, filed a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of the Fetterman campaign and two Democratic groups to require the state’s 67 county election boards to count mail-in ballots that are undated or dated incorrectly. The 11th-hour legal challenge is a response to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling earlier this month that those ballots cannot be counted. Republicans have raised concerns about mail-in ballots, claiming they are prime targets for voter fraud. Democrats say the date requirement violates the Civil Rights Act because it denies the right to vote for reasons that are "not material to determining that individual’s eligibility."
Elias Law Group claims that "thousands" of undated mail-in ballots have been cast so far in the pivotal race.
In turning to Elias, Fetterman is allying himself with an attorney who has faced legal sanctions and widespread condemnation over his efforts to undermine duly elected Republicans.
As a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Elias commissioned the Steele Dossier, a discredited but influential opposition research report that accused the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia. Elias, who frequently accuses Republicans of undermining democracy, fed the dossier to journalists and political operatives in a bid to prevent Trump’s election.
In a lawsuit last year, Elias claimed without evidence that New York’s voting machines were compromised in a race between his client, Anthony Brindisi, and Rep. Claudia Tenney (R.). U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, called Elias's lawsuit a "Hail Mary pass" and laughed Elias out of court before tossing the suit.
Elias unsuccessfully pressured House Democrats last year to overturn Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’s (R., Iowa) win over his client, Rita Hart. He also pressured Democrats to overturn an Iowa state court’s certification of the election results.
The Washington Free Beacon reported Elias represented a Virginia-based political action committee that falsely posed as a conservative group in ads criticizing Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin (R.) over his stance on gun rights. A Texas appeals court sanctioned Elias last year for making "misleading" filings in order to overturn the Lone Star State’s ban on straight-ticket ballot options.
Elias represented the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this year in its bid to redraw New York’s congressional maps so that multiple districts held by Republicans would be redrawn in favor of Democrats. Elias’s gerrymandering effort was criticized even by his fellow Democrats, including former attorney general Eric Holder. More recently, Elias signed on to represent former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum against charges that he defrauded the progressive billionaire George Soros.
The Fetterman campaign has paid $110,646 to Elias’s firm so far this election cycle, according to campaign disclosures. Neither the campaign nor Elias’s firm returned requests for comment.