Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, center, speaks to supporters of President Donald Trump as they demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa., after Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump to become 46th president of the United States. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Doug Mastriano
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, center, speaks to supporters of President Donald Trump as they demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa., after Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump to become 46th president of the United States. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

According to previously undisclosed emails obtained by the New York Times, Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, was involved in Team Trump’s effort to create a list of fake electors to try and force Vice President Mike Pence and Congress to overturn the 2020 election results.

Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano was the “point person” in former President Donald Trump’s fake elector scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Pennsylvania, according to new reporting from the New York Times.

Previously undisclosed emails obtained by the Times show that Trump’s advisors embraced an effort to assemble lists of people who would falsely claim to be fake Electoral College electors on Trump’s behalf in swing states he lost, including Pennsylvania. 

As Trump associates launched this scheme, the lawyers involved decided they needed a “point person” in each state to organize those electors willing to sign their names to the false documents. Emails obtained by the Times show that Mastriano, a far right state Senator, became that point person in Pennsylvania following a conversation with Rudy Giuliani, a Trump advisor and the former mayor of New York City.

The group behind the fake electors plan — which included Trump campaign officials, outside advisers, and former Trump attorney and current Mastriano advisor Jenna Ellis — hoped to get Republican state legislatures or governors to support their efforts in order to legitimize them. 

They failed to garner such institutional support, prompting the pressure campaign against former Vice President Mike Pence. For weeks leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, Trump and his allies demanded Pence block Congress from certifying the actual electoral college results and instead certify the phony Trump electors. 

While Trump and his allies have publicly claimed there was nothing dubious about their efforts, the emails show that those involved in the discussions repeatedly used the word “fake” when referring to the electors. Attorneys involved in the plan also made clear the plan was legally questionable. 

“We would just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to Pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the ‘fake’ votes should be counted,” Jack Wilenchik, a Phoenix-based lawyer wrote in a Dec. 8, 2020, email to Boris Epshteyn, a strategic adviser for the Trump campaign.

Mastriano’s role in the scheme does not come as a surprise, given his devout support of Trump’s election lies and presence at the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.  

As a refresher, here’s a recap of Mastriano’s involvement in the “Big Lie” and its deadly aftermath:

  • Shortly after then-candidate Joe Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, Mastriano got to work promoting lies about voter fraud and trying to overturn the election results. He was also in communication with an appointee in Trump’s Department of Justice regarding his false claims of voter fraud. 
  • Mastriano continued to spout violent rhetoric and lies about voter fraud in the lead up to Jan. 6 and even paid for people to bus down to Washington, DC for Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, where he was also present. 
  • The far-right Republican was also present on the Capitol lawn when it was invaded by the violent mob, an attack that led to five deaths. Mastriano said he condemned the violence, never entered the Capitol, and left before things turned violent, but new footage shows Mastriano was actually present as violence erupted and was just feet away from rioters ripped down police barricades
  • Mastriano has said that he would order his hand-picked secretary of state to “reset” Pennsylvania’s voter rolls so all 9 million registered voters in the state would “have to re-register.”

Mastriano’s extreme stances aren’t isolated to elections. He wants to enact a total ban on abortion at six weeks with no exceptions and has compared abortion to slavery and the holocaust. Mastriano believes gay marriages should be illegal, that LGBTQ couples should not be allowed to adopt children, that climate change is a hoax, and that arming schoolteachers with guns is the best way to prevent mass shootings. He has also argued that state spending on public education should be cut in half and that parents should be able to use taxpayer dollars at private and religious schools.

Perhaps most alarmingly, Mastriano has embraced Christian Nationalism — the wrongheaded idea that the US was created as a Christian nation and is now under attack, even as Christians remain, by far, the largest religious bloc in the country. For Christian nationalists, however, that’s not enough. Christian nationalists believe they’re in a battle with secular and satanic forces and want to impose and enforce Christian dogma over the country in political, religious, and social spheres.

During an April speech at an event hosted by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists Allen and Francine Fosdick, Mastriano said his campaign came from “the call of God” and denounced those who have engaged in “persecution” against him for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. 

He also compared himself to the heroic biblical figure Esther, compared Democrats to Haman (Esther’s primary antagonist), and railed against the “myth of separation of church and state.”

“God is really working in our state,” Mastriano added. “In November, we’re going to take our state back. My God will make it so.”

Most recently, Mastriano’s campaign came under scrutiny for its affiliation with a different anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, Andrew Torba, the creator of the far-right social platform Gab.

Mastriano’s stances are so far out of the mainstream that several influential Pennsylvania Republicans are actively supporting his opponent, Democrat Josh Shapiro, and working to prevent a Mastriano victory in November. 
He could still win, though, as many key Republicans are coalescing behind him, despite his radical agenda and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.